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Researchers have identified remains of animals and plants from hundreds of thousands of years ago on tiny flint vessels

The discovery was made by researchers from Tel Aviv University in Merat Kesem near Rosh Ha'Ein * The researchers used modern science to examine what the tiny tools produced from larger stone tools that had gone out of use were used for; Prof. Ran Barkai: "Prehistoric man did not waste anything. He engaged in recycling naturally, as part of life. We definitely have something to learn from him..."

Experimental archaeology: a tuber cutting experiment using a small recycled spatter. Above on the right, the way the sprayer was held in the hand during the experiment (credit: Flavia Venditti)
Experimental archaeology: a tuber cutting experiment using a small recycled spatter. Above on the right, the way the sprayer was held in the hand during the experiment (credit: Flavia Venditti)

Researchers at Tel Aviv University, led by postdoctoral student Flavia Vanditi, Prof. Ran Barkai and Prof. Avi Gofer from the Department of Archeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations, used sophisticated microscopes and advanced chemical methods to identify the uses of thousands of tiny flint tools, which were found in a magic cave near Rosh Ha-Ein. According to the signs of use and the organic remains preserved on the tools, they determined that the tiny stone tools were mainly used for 'surgical' cuts on hunted animals and plants. The research proves that the tiny stone tools, previously considered waste and ignored by many researchers, are an excellent example of the complexity of prehistoric man's toolbox, and the principle of recycling that was an integral part of his life.
The study was conducted in collaboration with the University of Rome and the Institute for Nanostructures Research in Rome (ISMN-CNR. The article was recently published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

"The Magic Cave near Rosh Ha'Ein was discovered by chance in 2000 during work to expand Highway 5, and became one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world - of great significance for the study of the biological and cultural evolution of man," explains Prof. Barkai. "The cave, rich in findings, which was completely sealed for about 200,000 years, is a kind of time capsule from a relatively unknown period in human history - between 400,000 and 200,000 years before our time. This is an evolutionary transition stage during which man developed from Homo erectus to modern man - Homo sapiens and Neanderthal man, a peaceful process even with far-reaching cultural changes."

The archaeologists of Tel Aviv University have been excavating the site since its discovery, and over the years they have discovered a wide variety of flint tools, which were used by man for various purposes: hand stones, blades, scrubbers and more. Among the findings were also thousands of small flint items, the size of which varied between 3-1 cm. Items similar to them have been found in many excavations around the world, but were not studied because they were considered waste - chips from the production of larger tools. The researchers of Merat Kesem recognized that, contrary to the popular hypothesis, these are tiny tools that were produced from tools that have gone out of use, in an efficient, organized and conscious process of recycling.

In the current study, the researchers used advanced scientific methods to identify exactly what these tiny tools were used for. In one part of the study, the researchers examined the small flint tools under microscopes at different magnifications, in order to find signs of use - such as scratches and fractures on the sharp edge of the tool. In addition, they carved replicas of the ancient tools themselves, tested them in a variety of uses, and compared the signs of use that were created to the marks on the items found in the cave. Another aspect of the research was chemical tests to identify hundreds of thousands of years old organic remains, which surprisingly remained on the stone tools, thanks to the excellent preservation conditions that prevailed in Kesem Cave.

"On many tiny tools, especially those found in the central area of ​​the cave, near the fire, we found remains of fat, soft tissue, bone and other animal materials, and we identified that the tools were used to butcher hunted animals," says Prof. Barkai. "It turns out that the tiny tools were used for very precise, almost surgical cutting, as a complement to the coarser cutting done with large tools." In other areas of the cave, the researchers identified additional uses for the small tools - processing and cutting skins, and also cutting plants.

"The prehistoric man who lived in a magic cave wasted nothing," concludes Prof. Barkai. "Every animal that was hunted and every plant that was gathered was used to the fullest in order to maximize man's ability to survive, and from every tool that was worn or thrown away, additional tools were produced. In fact, he engaged in recycling naturally, as a part of life. We definitely have something to learn from him..."

More of the topic in Hayadan:

3 תגובות

  1. Circulation stems from economics. Considering that every flint was brought solely on human brows from a distance of thousands of kilometers (because the technology of transporting by means of donkeys had not yet been developed, and wheels were also in the distant future, and all this assuming that "backpack" technology was indeed available and known to these guys, Otherwise everything is carried by a pair of hands). In addition to that, all work on the stone was done by a skilled craftsman, at an astronomical price for the buyer (it was impossible to throw a few pieces of colored paper in the expert's direction. You had to pay a real favor for the work). From here it is clear the use of tools until they are finished and the recycling of every possible piece of flint.

    So what can be learned from this in the age of global transportation and explosive robotics? Perhaps as one of the last presidents of the USA said: "It's the economy, idiot". And maybe it's just another topic to send out adequate signals, bully children and seem important in our own eyes.

    (Loram Ipsum).

  2. Interesting and important
    Only that: it would have been appropriate to avoid leaz (muta) as it is written "
    "… maximize fitness……." "Maximize"?
    ("Maximum" in Hebrew - Merev),
    Is it possible otherwise?

    post Scriptum.
    Why is it not possible to write the commenter's name?

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