Let's first get an overview of the era:
From about 4 million years ago, a species called Australopithecus showed the first evidence of bipedal movement (walking on two legs). This has been derived from study of their skeletons, but we also have their actual footprints left in vulcanic ash.
Homo Habilis appeared around 2 million years ago and used simple stone tools, marking the start of the Stone Age.
Neanderthals, who looked way more similar to us, appeared around 600,000 years ago and made necklaces from painted shells.
Finally, our own species, Homo Sapiens, appeared around 200,000 years ago. Cilivizations have only existed for 2,5% of this time.
Starting around 35,000 years ago, human beings climbed deep into dark caves to draw animals on the walls, using simple lamps made from animal fat as their only source of light.
Great early examples can be found in the Chauvet cave in France, from about 30,000 years ago (see the image to the right).
Now let's see this period through the eyes of an individual:
The most mysterious characters from early human tribes are the shaman, who were medicine men and prophets. They can be found everywhere on Earth. Famous examples can be found in North and South America, Mongolia, Sibera, Afrika etc.
The Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen went to the Arctic in 1925, where he met with various inuit Shaman. One of them had deep insight in the growth character through suffering:
"The only true wisdom lives far from mankind, out in the great loneliness, and it can be reached only through suffering. Privation and suffering alone can open the mind of man to all that is hidden to others."