Groups of The Earth's Children Series


“In looking for a sense of how my characters lived, I have studied almost every group of hunting and gathering people in the world. This includes groups from around the world: the Inuit; Chukchees; early Lapps and Ainus; Athabaskans; Dakota, Cree, Sioux, and most of the other Native Americans from the Pacific Northwest to southern Florida. Further, I've learned about natives South Americans, Africans, Polynesians, and of course, the Aborigines.”– Jean M. Auel

Throughout the Earth’s Children Series novels, Ayla lives with or encounters different groups and societies. Read more about them here.


The Clan:

The people of the Clan of the Cave Bear, and of other Clans readers meet throughout the series, are Neanderthals. Neanderthals, called Homo sapiens neanderthalensis or Homo neanderthalensis, are among the first human ancestors to live outside the temperate zones of the world. Scientists debate whether they are a subspecies of Homo Sapiens (modern humans) or a separate species; DNA evidence shows clues that we may have shared a common ancestor with Neanderthals, dating from more than 500,000 years ago. Equally controversial among the learned is the idea that Neanderthals and other early modern humans may have interbred, although there is some evidence to support this theory; we see this in Ayla’s son, Durc (The Clan of the Cave Bear). From the available evidence, it is likely the Neanderthals died out some 24,000-30,000 years ago.

The Clan people, including Creb, Iza, Broud, and others, are described as anthropologists describe their finds: they are on average between five feet and 5’6” tall, with a robust and sturdy build. Their arms and shoulders are markedly strong. Cranial evidence shows they have large brains, with a pronounced occipital “bump” and jaws, but lack a chin. The distinctive sloping forehead is what gives rise to the derisive term used by others to describe the Clan as “Flatheads.” Much of the evidence recovered at sites like La Chapelle-aux-Saints (France) and Shanidar (Iraq) indicates that Neanderthals cared for their elderly and their infirmed or handicapped. They used tools and weapons, may have created art or decorative items, and had some control over fire. Neanderthal remains have been recovered as far east as Shanidar, and as far west as Wales. The word “Neanderthal” comes from the Neander Valley, near Düsseldorf (Germany), the location from which a partial skeleton was recovered in 1856.


The Zelandoni:

The Zelandonii are Cro-Magnon, which are considered the first early modern humans (homo sapiens sapiens). The Cro-Magnon (so named for the site where the first remains were identified, Abri de Cro-Magnon, “rock shelter of the big cave,” near the commune of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil in southwest France) co-existed with the Neanderthal for approximately 10,000 years; authorities differ in opinion as to the nature of that co-existence, and to the degree of intermixing and cooperation between these two peoples.

The Cro-Magnon measured 5’5” to 5’7” tall, although there are examples well over six feet. In general, they are more robust and have larger heads than modern humans. They have distinctive rectangular eye orbits, and straight limbs. It is impossible to guess their hair and eye color, but evidence indicates they could be fair-skinned.

Ayla, Jondalar, and his family (include Marthona, Thonolon, and Folara) are Zelandonii, called “The Others” by the Clan. Many of the people Ayla and Jondalar encounter on their odyssey (from The Valley of Horses through The Land of Painted Caves) are tribes within this classification. The Cro-Magnon are a semi-nomadic people, following the large animals they hunted. Evidence of rock shelters, and some built from mammoth bone, has been found. The famed caves at Lascaux, featuring marvelous paintings, indicate they were highly cultured and prized art and artisans; this assumption is further supported by rich evidence of tools, decorative items including ceramics, and cunningly shaped weapons found in various early modern human archeological digs from the Arabian Peninsula throughout Europe and even in the Americas.


The Sharamudoi:

The Sharamudoi are actually composed of two groups: the Shamudoi, who live on the land; and the Ramudoi who live on floating docks moored to the shore of the Great Mother River. Each group has perfected skills ideally suited to their lifestyles. They are also Cro-Magnon, or “Others.”

Their cooperation is based on a system of ‘cross-mating’ that is rooted in practicality and survival. When a Ramudoi couple decides to mate, they 'cross-mate' with a couple among the Shamudoi, and vice versa. During the colder months of the year, the Ramudoi come ashore and live with their cross-mates or other cross-kin. Jondalar and Thonolan encounter the Sharamudoi first on their journey described in The Valley of Horses. While among them, Thonolan mates with Jetamio, a Shamudoi woman; her death in childbirth leaves him devastated. The skills that Jondalar learns while among these people serve him well when he and Ayla face great obstacles in their journeys described in The Mammoth Hunters and The Plains of Passage.


The Hadumai:

Very little is known about the Hadumai; Jondalar and his brother stayed with them briefly during their Journey east, and when Jondalar and Ayla began to trek west, they met only with a group of hunters. Haduma, the matriarch of the Hadumai, was the mother of five generations; when Jondalar and Thonolan encountered them, Haduma appealed to Jondalar to be the man at her descendant Noria's First Rites. Haduma wanted Noria to have a child with Jondalar's blue eyes; that child would be her sixth generation. The majority of the Hadumai do not speak any of the languages of their neighbors: only Tamen, Haduma's son, could converse with Jondalar and Thonolan through broken but intelligible Zelandonii. When Jondalar and Ayla encountered the hunters, Tamen was not among them. Through some pantomime and a few proper names, Jondalar was able to learn that Haduma had died since their previous encounter, and surmised that Noria had indeed delivered a baby with his blue eyes as Haduma had wanted. He had no way to confirm this, however, due to the difficulties communicating.


The Mamutoi:

Ayla and Jondalar encounter the Mamutoi first in The Mammoth Hunters. The author has called them “The Children of the Great Earth Mother who Hunt Mammoth” and they are Cro-Magnon, or “Others.”

The Mamutoi live on the steppes just to the east of the Beran Sea, and utilize every possible part of the giant wooly mammoths which they hunt in their everyday life. They organize themselves into Camps, and within those Camps they are divided into Hearths. Hearths are identified by animal names, and Camps are identified by the name of the Hearth of the Camp's leaders. One distinct trait of this society is that a brother and sister share joint leadership of the Camp; a man's heirs are not the children of his own hearth, but rather his sister's children.

They hold an annual Summer Meeting, at which ceremonies such as First Rites and Matrimonials take place, as well as organized hunts and games. During the Summer Meeting, the Mamutoi Council of Sisters and Council of Brothers meet, as well as the various members of the Mammoth Hearth. The Mammoth Hearth is the Mamutoi term for those Who Serve the Great Earth Mother; Ayla was adopted into the Mammoth Hearth when she became a member of the Lion Camp.



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