Prehistoric people collected the tools of their ancestors

How were memories passed down in prehistoric times? The study shows that people in the Middle East recycled ancient cut stones and included them in the tool kit they created, likely to preserve the memory of their ancestors.

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Flint processing occupies an important place in Mesolithic society, in the prehistoric period. It was at this time that she benefited from the emergence of a new technique using a soft striker. Find out in this video from Inrap (National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research) how early humans made their tools.

That patina is a chemical modification that has occurred, in particular, on tools used by prehistoric people. This patina is formed over time under the influence of certain chemical and environmental conditions and affects various materials such as metal, glass, and some types of rocks. Cut stones have this patina, thanks to which the history of the tool can be, if not reconstructed, then at least imagined.

Faceted stone tools with patina were “recycled” by Paleolithic people, especially in the Middle East.

The differences between newly cut stones and older ones lie in their color and roughness. Previous archaeological research has already revealed the fact that cut stone tools with patina were “recycled” by men from paleolithespecially in the Middle East.

Preserving the memory of old instruments

BUT a recent study published in the journal Scientific reports analyzed patinated objects present at the Revadim site in Israel, which dates fromUpper Acheulean and in particular from 500,000 to 300,000 years ago. The identified tools were used for scraping surfaces and cutting, among other things, and they were found along with bifaces and remains of straight-tusked elephants. The authors explain that the tools they found on this site had two life cycles separated by a large time interval. The first cycle concerns the design of the cut stone and its direct use by the makers of the instrument. The latter was not used then and was probably thrown away, which allowed it to acquire a patina.

Then a second cycle began when someone found an object with a patina, reshaped it, and sharpened it, revealing the stone underneath the patina. The authors cannot explain whether these patinated stones were mined by people in the place of their ancestors, or whether they were brought to the Revadim site by people from another area. However, it appears that the selection, collection and recycling of these weathered stones were deliberate. This recycling intention can obviously be motivated by economic reasons. The stone is already in the form of a tool, it was functional and can become one again. However, the authors suggest that the reuse of patinated stones was motivated by other reasons.

The authors point out that among the instruments that have been redesigned, the shape of the majority has been little changed. The edges were sharpened, but most of the items were used during their second life cycle for scratching and scratching surfaces, while some were intended for butchering, probably carcasses, during their first life cycle.

The authors interpret this as the will of the people who collected the patinated objects to preserve these objects as much as possible, giving them perfect functionality. This inclusion of ancient tools among those of later populations may have been motivated by the technical power they acquired during their first life cycle. The collection and preservation of these ancient tools would create and maintain a memory link between ancient human populations and recent. The preservation of these tools could also allow the route of an object to be preserved through its functions, as well as the memory of the people who used it.

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