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Tools in General
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

The Globe

…people began to make more and more pottery in ways that seem particularly designed to cook starchy seeds, such as those of goosefoot. Such pottery has to withstand high heat and sudden temperature changes, and all over the world people making these kinds of pots invented the same globular shapes and kinds of tempering and wall thicknesses that facilitate the long, slow simmering of seeds and other foods in liquids. (53)

The only surviving tools from this period are stone tools that can charitably be described as very crude, in comparison with the beautiful polished stone tools made until recently by Polynesians, American Indians, and other modern Stone Age peoples. Early stone tools vary in size and shape, and archaeologists have used those differences to give the tools different names, such as "hand axe," "chopper," and "cleaver." These names conceal the fact that none of those early tools had a sufficiently consistent or distinctive shape to suggest any specific function, as do the obvious needles and spear points left by the much later Cro-Magnons. Wear marks on the tools show that they were variously used to cut meat, bone, hides, wood, and non woody parts of plants. But any size or shape of tool seems to have been used to cut any of those things, and the tool names applied by archaeologists may be little more than arbitrary divisions of a continuum of stone forms. (114)

…it is generally true to say that flints, scrapers, axe-heads, arrowheads and spear-points from the Neolithic end of the Stone Age spectrum are smaller, more delicate, more refined, better made and more skillfully worked than their counterparts from the Palaeolithic. (124) Even rarer than hearths are indications of nondurable artifacts of wood, bone, or fiber. While this is hardly surprising given the highly friable nature of such artifacts in most archaeological settings, their absence has lent undue importance to the relatively common stone tools. This bias in what has been preserved and what hasn't has in turn helped create (and sustain) an image of Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene technology that is not only wrong for that time but for virtually all later periods. To be sure, stone was an important component of the tool kits of the first wayfarers outside Africa, but it is virtually certain that stone was always a minority element in their technological suite. (130)

The Meditarranean countries soon consumed their forests and were short of wood for smelting. They tended therefore to smelt the metal at the mines before bringing it back. (135)

There are in excess of 450 ancient optical artifacts surviving, and I have frankly lost count. Everywhere I go, more appear; it is like an avalanche. There are huge bulk-collections. There are the Carthaginian Lenses, the Mycenaean Lenses, the Minoan Lenses, the Rhodes Lenses, and the Ephesus Lenses, which are concave rather than convex and reduce images by 75 per cent, thus being good for myopic (short-sighted) people. (139)

...some convex ancient lenses not only enlarged words or objects beneath them, but also illuminated them! They were thus light-condensers. Because it is not customary to study ancient objects in the dark, I had never been in a situation before where it was possible to notice this. But ancient people, of course, spent much of their lives in semi-darkened rooms, where a candle or a lamp was as much as they could expect at night, and in the daytime only small windows or feeble light might be available. So what they were gaining by the use of their lenses was not only the ability to see things enlarged but to see things lit! (139)

Erectus eventually colonized most of habitable Europe and Asia, although large tracts of northern Europe would have been too cold to settle on. The one constant in the Diaspora is the stone tool kit: Acheulian bifaces only went out of fashion around 250,000 years ago, over a million years after they were first crafted in Africa. Their distribution shows that half the world's population shared and passed on the knowledge of making these large stone tools. (142)

Africa

 

Southwest Asia

...in 2001, in Iran, a flash flood near the Halil River opened ancient graves packed with beautiful stone pottery. Local villagers began plundering, forcing police to confiscate hundreds of finely worked stone vessels carved with images of animals and decorated with semiprecious stones. Because the vessels were not scientifically recovered, their age and origin are open to debate. However, the Iranian archaeologist in charge of the site, Yousef Madjidzadeh, strongly believes most were made more than four thousand years ago, and that the society that made them predates ancient Mesopotamia. This can be seen as another telltale sign of Bu Wizzer, the Land of Osiris, and the greater Mediterranean culture. (70)

Among the remains of the predecessors of the Sumerians at Eridu may be mentioned buff or greenish pottery painted in black with geometric designs, and (rarely) with animal forms; well-knapped hoes of flint and chert, ground stone axe heads, stone flakes, knives, etc., flint borers, fish-hooks, arrow-heads, barbed arrow-heads, bone tools or implements; corn grinders and querns; egg-shaped missiles for slings; obsidian and crystal pins; baked clay sickles of various sizes, both right-handed and left-handed; clay nails, with convex heads, turned up at the points, spindle-wheels, beads, clay figures of animals, a painter's pot, etc. (118)

To the south of the temple is a very ancient prehistoric settlement, where, among the ruins of daub and wattle huts, were found stone door sockets, rough stone querns and grinding stones, painted hand-made pottery, incised ware, flakes of flint and obsidian, clay sickles, etc. (118)

At Lake Tizcoco, at a depth of fifteen feet below the surface of the mud, a ceremonial stone mace head was dug up and is now in the Chicago Natural History Museum. This is unique and unlike any other carved stone object ever found in America but is almost identical in shape with stone mace heads found in the Near East known to have belonged to Naram-Sin and his grandfather, King Sargon of Agade, and with existing portraits of identical features and helmet or headdress. (135)

A chart of early metallurgy...shows the point at which, in the reign of Sargon the Great, his Middle East empire ran out of tin. The records state that it was subsequently imported from the west. It was not imported from Spain or Cornwall, carbon dating shows. It does, however, neatly coincide with the evidence from South America, of Old World inscriptions, common words and customs, architectural styles and artifacts. These also bear out the Sumerain records which state that Sargon imported his tin from sources beyond the Mediterranean and that he himself went and conquered the Sunset Land. (135)

I spent a whole day in Cologne studying a codex in a library with miniature writing, which had clearly been written with a magnifying aid. But then I realized that there were masses of microscopic cuneiform texts written on Babylonian and Assyrian baked-clay tablets and cylinder seals, and some ancient Greek coins contained secret inscriptions invisible to the eye, which could only be read through a lens. And there were many engraved seals and gems from Greece and Rome which were either themselves extremely tiny - like the one with the portrait of Plotina - or which contained microscopic work. (139)

I did find the information that I was looking for, however - not in the Scriptures but in the Talmudic-Midrashic sources at my disposal. Because Moses had commanded the Israelites not to use 'any tool of iron' in the 'construction of holy places, Solomon had ordered that no hammers, axes or chisels should be used to cut and dress the many massive stone blocks from which the outer walls and courtyard of the Temple had been built. Instead he had provided the artificers with an ancient device, dating back to the time of Moses himself. This device was called the Shamir and was capable of cutting the toughest of materials without friction or heat. Also known as 'the stone that splits rocks', the Shamir may not be put in an iron vessel for safekeeping, nor in any metal vessel: it would burst such a receptacle asunder. It is kept wrapped up in a woollen cloth, and this in turn is placed in a lead basket filled with barley bran ... With the destruction of the Temple the Shamir vanished. I was fascinated by this odd and ancient tradition, which also claimed that the Shamir had possessed 'the remarkable property of cutting the hardest of diamonds. I then found a collateral version of the same story which added that it had been quite noiseless while it was at work. (169)

Egypt

Christopher P Dunn, the British toolmaker and engineer, has examined the Great Pyramid from the engineering point of view. His study led him to conclude--in an article called 'Advanced Machining in Ancient Egypt' that the Egyptian pyramids and temples 'reveal glimpses of a civilization that was technically more advanced than is generally believed'. Examining blocks that had been hollowed out with some kind of drill in the Valley Temple, in front of the Sphinx, he noted that the marks left in the hole showed that it was cutting into the rock at a rate of one-tenth of an inch for every revolution of the drill, and he concludes that this could not be achieved by hand. A hole drilled into a rock made of quartz and feldspar provided another strange observation. The drill had cut faster through the quartz than the feldspar, even though quartz is harder than feldspar. Dunn points out that modern ultrasonic machining depends on vibration, like the chisel of a pneumatic drill, which vibrates up and down. An ultrasonic drill vibrates tens of thousands of times faster. Quartz crystals, which can be used to produce ultrasonic sound, also respond to ultrasonic vibrations, which would enable an ultrasonic drill to cut through them faster. Does this suggest that there were ultrasonic drills in ancient Egypt? (123)

The Egyptians came across meteoritic iron, knew it came from heaven, and knew that this metal was not available to them on earth. They quite naturally assumed that iron was a heavenly substance. But they associated it with night - possibly because it was black - and with the night sky. More particularly, they associated it with the circumpolar region of the stars which never set - the 'deathless stars' - and which was the region of the god Set or Seth (Typhon to the Greeks). Iron was his 'bone'. And occasionally one was tossed to earth. This rare celestial material was then hammered into adzes in the shape of the constellation known to us as the Great Bear or Big Dipper ­ the ultimate circumpolar constellation - and pressed against the mouths of mummies and statues in a ritual meant to 'open their mouths' so that they could, like infants, be born and live again in the world of the dead. It all makes sense if you are an ancient Egyptian. (139)

We thus have textual proof that the use of diamond cutters and diamond drills was a commonplace by the first century AD, and without question long before that, for there is no indication by Pliny that this is anything new. We must entertain the possibility that diamonds for cutting and drilling were known to the Egyptians in very early times, especially as such a ready supply was available from the regions just beyond Upper Egypt...Drills are another example of this highly advanced technology. According to the studies of Prof. Petrie and Prof. Baker, the Egyptian drills had a degree of penetration of hard stone 100 times stronger than the best drills of the modern oil industry [these comments by Petrie were made several decades ago, and this has presumably changed somewhat]. As Prof. Baker pointed out, a modern engineer capable of duplicating the ancient drills would not only become rich but would revolutionize modern industry as well. (139)

The point about the pyramids at Giza in Egypt is that they are so accurately surveyed that only theodolites were capable of achieving such precision. No one could have done it without the use of lenses...It is a simple physical impossibility for the pyramids of Giza to have been built without optical surveying instruments. The perfection of its technology is reflected in every element of the Great Pyramid. One of the many examples that illustrates this feature is the [white] marble casing that originally covered the whole pyramid, giving it four magnificent triangular mirrors of many acres of extension each. [A small number of these blocks remain.]...The perfect optical cutting of these blocks has surprised archaeologists. According to the studies of [Sir Flinders] Petrie, the error of parallelism of the edges of these blocks of 16 tons each is less than 0.002 cm/metre, a precision of the order of our most advanced optical devices. The surfaces of the blocks are perfect planes with an error of 50 micra. The dihedral right angle has an error of less than 5 seconds. Each one of these 25,000 blocks was a masterpiece of optical precision comparable to the 5 meter mirror of the telescope of Mount Palomar (USA). (139)

Indus Valley

Other

China

 

Mesopotamia , Egypt , and Europe gave the world many great technological inventions, but China 's and east Asia's contributions include such fundamental advances as the magnetic compass, gunpowder, printing, paper, paddle-wheel propulsion, and many other inventions. (49)

Europe

Additional evidence for culture contact can be brought. The Chimus in Peru used double jugs, connected, with a single spout; similar rather curious jugs are also found among the Cretan and Etruscan ruins. (135)

I spent a whole day in Cologne studying a codex in a library with miniature writing, which had clearly been written with a magnifying aid. But then I realized that there were masses of microscopic cuneiform texts written on Babylonian and Assyrian baked-clay tablets and cylinder seals, and some ancient Greek coins contained secret inscriptions invisible to the eye, which could only be read through a lens. And there were many engraved seals and gems from Greece and Rome which were either themselves extremely tiny - like the one with the portrait of Plotina - or which contained microscopic work. (139)

South America

...twenty-one artifacts of Polynesian design have been found in various points in America, from the Argentine to Vancouver Island, wooden clubs identical to those of the South Sea Islands in Peru and among the Tlinkits of the Northwest Coast...(128)

At Lake Tizcoco, at a depth of fifteen feet below the surface of the mud, a ceremonial stone mace head was dug up and is now in the Chicago Natural History Museum. This is unique and unlike any other carved stone object ever found in America but is almost identical in shape with stone mace heads found in the Near East known to have belonged to Naram-Sin and his grandfather, King Sargon of Agade, and with existing portraits of identical features and helmet or headdress. (135)

Additional evidence for culture contact can be brought. The Chimus in Peru used double jugs, connected, with a single spout; similar rather curious jugs are also found among the Cretan and Etruscan ruins. The Peruvians also used cups, plates, spoons and goblets, as in the Old World. (135)

Iron was almost never used in America. But we have shown that only the final Phoenician settlement at Vera Cruz took place in the iron age. That they continued to use copper and bronze may be ascribed to the corruptibility of iron in a sub-tropical climate and to the lack of military pressure from technically advanced nations who used iron, such as existed in the Old world. (135)

Mesoamerica

Magnetite objects occur at a number of Olmec sites. Coe reports that one of these objects is a flattened oblong piece of magnetite, squared on all faces and with a longitudinal groove extending along one surface. Robert H. Fuson gives details of Maya buildings and ceremonial sites which were lined up, he states, not upon the true north but magnetic north. Since the magnetic pole wanders and the buildings were erected at different times they are not aligned with each other and this, he maintains, is the true explanation of their different orientations, not a casualness in a most precise and mathematical people. (135)

Iron was almost never used in America. But we have shown that only the final Phoenician settlement at Vera Cruz took place in the iron age. That they continued to use copper and bronze may be ascribed to the corruptibility of iron in a sub-tropical climate and to the lack of military pressure from technically advanced nations who used iron, such as existed in the Old world. (135)

North America

...twenty-one artifacts of Polynesian design have been found in various points in America, from the Argentine to Vancouver Island, wooden clubs identical to those of the South Sea Islands in Peru and among the Tlinkits of the Northwest Coast...(128)

Other

...twenty-one artifacts of Polynesian design have been found in various points in America, from the Argentine to Vancouver Island, wooden clubs identical to those of the South Sea Islands in Peru and among the Tlinkits of the Northwest Coast...(128)