DailyDirt: The Newest Of The Old

from the urls-we-dug-up dept

Perhaps the most striking thing about archaeological finds is just how fragile and unlikely they are. When you realize the circumstances that had to align to give us each tiny glimpse into our prehistoric past, you can’t help but think about all the artifacts we’ll never get to see, lost as they are to decay or destruction or inaccessibility. Each find is precious and can teach us something new (except when it turns out to be fake).

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Comments on “DailyDirt: The Newest Of The Old”

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Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: cheers or however they say it at Octoberfest


It’s been over 10 years since I read this, and I’d have difficulty finding it again, but I recall reading once that it used to be thought that cities grew out of towns, which grew out of villages, but archaeologists are starting to learn the exact opposite: ancient cities were almost always intended to be cities from the beginning. IIRC the article was written back in the 50s or 60s, so I’m not sure how much the conventional wisdom has changed since then, but there’s more than one viewpoint on the matter, at the very least.

JoeCool (profile) says:


It also predates the agricultural revolution by some 30,000 years, leaving archaeologists puzzling over its exact purpose.

I lived on a farm as a kid, and an axe is NOT one of the things we used associated with said farm. However, an axe is very useful beyond farming – you know, to chop wood, to chop up your enemies… that sort of thing. Other than poking prey/enemies with a sharp stick, an axe was probably one of the first tools used for HUNTING or fighting. Agriculture came MUCH MUCH later in history.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Huh?

It is not entirely intuitively clear to me either, but it is true that almost all prehistoric axes uncovered by archaeologists appear to have been agricultural tools (found on farms alongside ploughs, etc.), and there are few if any examples – specifically of axe-heads for mounting on handles – that predate agriculture. And so this one raised some eyebrows. Archaeologists generally try not to just guess what a tool was used for (or at least not assert that guess as the definite truth).

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Huh?

As you note, the real original weapon/tool is a sharp stick – or a stick with a spearhead mounted on it. It’s actually quite hard for me to envision many situations where a neolithic hunter would find an axe more useful for either hunting or combat. Hunting is all about range. Axes in war are all about close combat and are especially useful against armoured opponents (and such axes tend to have very small heads, for puncturing power).

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