Tools around 11,000 BC

The Globe I imagine it 12,800 years ago is one in which the vast majority of humans are hunter-gatherers while a minority have taken another, more complex, path. The hunter-gatherers form populations recognized by modern archaeologists, and their stone tools, weapons, and ornaments speak of an effective but fairly rudimentary technology. The minority who have taken a different path are not recognized and I contend that this is primarily because the destruction of their civilization was near-total, and because the few, faint, tantalizing clues to their technology that have reached us across the ages hint at a level of science far in advance of anything believed by scholars to have been possible at such a remote period of prehistory.  (America Before)



Southwest Asia

The ages of the charcoal spanned from 11,000 to 9,500 BC, placing the first settlement of Abu Hureyra in the era of postglacial warming through to near the end of the Younger Dryas. The food residue revealed that the Natufians used sickles of carved deer antler studded with flakes of flint to harvest the natural stands of native wheat and rye. They reaped wild barley, lentil, and vetch, and the fruit of the hackberry, plum, pear, and fig tree, as well as the caper bush. Their diet of plants, fruit, and nuts, though coarse and stressful to their teeth and requiring back-bending labor with grinding stones, mortars, and pestles for preparation, was more than adequate for subsistence. (Noah's Flood)



Indus Valley





European toolkits, 35,000 to 11,000 years ago. The increasingly diversified economies of the late Pleistocene are reflected in increasingly diverse and sophisticated tool kits compared to earlier periods.(21)

Reindeer antlers were the hammers, or the "batons" used to produce the long elegant blades for which these people are justly famous; and reindeer bone was the raw material for fish gorges, needles, awls, and other important tools. (Patterns in Prehistory)

The Magdalenian culture, named after the rock shelter in Le Madeleine, France, existed between seventeen thousand and thirteen thousand years ago. It is perhaps the most impressive culture of the Old Stone Age. During this time, the bone industry reached its highest level. Elaborate harpoon points, tridents, and even needles were common. Bone tools were often engraved with animal images, and included adzes, hammers, spearheads, harpoons, and needles. Magdalenian stone tools included blades, burins (chisel-like implements with a beveled point), scrapers, borers, and projectile points. Some tools, which ranged from microliths to instruments of great length, display an advanced technique of fabrication. Weapons were highly refined and varied, and the atlatl (spear-thrower) first came into use during this time. Along the southern edge of the ice sheet, small boats and harpoons were developed, which reflected a society of fishermen and hunters. (Before the Pharaohs)

In Western Europe...the Aurignacian tradition consisted of a specific set of tools that included retouched blades, engraving tools called burins, and stone scrapers, and it is dated to between 34,000 BP and 27,000 BP. From 27,000 BP to 21,000 BP the Gravettian tradition delveloped, with its emphasis on smaller blades and denticulate knifes. The Solutrean tradtition, dated from 21,000 BP to 16,000BP, is the most striking of all, characterized by finely made, bifacially flaked, symmetrical, leaf-shaped projectile points. Solutrean points are amoung the most finely made stone tools ever found. The Solutrean was followed by the Magdelanian, from 16,000 BP to 11,000 BP, when the emphasis was not on stone tools at all but rather on bone and antler, with the attendant production of microblades. (The Past in Perspective)

South America

Monte Verde, on the banks of Chinchihuapi Creek, is in the hills near the town of Puerto Mont, 500 miles south of Santiago. As Dr. Dillehay reconstructed the prehistoric scene in his mind, a group of 20 to 30 people occupied Monte Verde for a year or so. Stone projectile points found there were carefully chipped on both sides, archaeologists said. The people of Monte Verde also made digging sticks, grinding slabs and tools of bone and tusk. A penny is shown for scale. (98)

Outside the tentlike structure were two large hearths, apparently used communally, grinding stones, and a store of firewood. At some point, presumably close to the time when the site was abandoned, someone ­ probably an adolescent - walked across some soft clay that had been brought to the site to reline the firepits. He or she left three footprints in the clay that were subsequently sealed under the anaerobic ooze that covered the site. These people also brought... pebbles that had been rolled and smoothed in the surf and that they turned into chopping tools, and bitumen for fastening stone tools to wooden hafts. From bone, they made digging tools and gouges; from wood, digging sticks and spear shafts. Except for a handful of bifacially flaked stone projectile points and chopping tools, as well as some grooved sling stones and grinding stones, most of the stone tools they used were extremely simple ­ chiefly pebbles that were only slightly modified - by, say, splitting or knocking off a few flakes with ivory batons. (The First Americans)

Another archeological site that has bearing on the evaluation of crude stone tools is the Monte Verde site in south central Chile. Although the age of 12,500 to 13,500 years for the site is not highly anomalous, the archeological finds uncovered there challenge the standard Clovis hunter theory. Although the Monte Verde people made some advanced bifacial implements, they mostly made minimally modified pebble tools. Indeed, to a large extent, they obtained stone tools by selecting naturally occurring split pebbles. Some of these show signs of nothing more than usage; others show signs of deliberate retouching of a working edge. This is strongly reminiscent of the descriptions of the European eoliths. ...the site is located in a boggy area in which perishable plant and animal matter has been preserved. Thus two pebble tools were found hafted to wooden handles. Twelve architectural foundations were found, made of cut wooden planks and small tree trunks staked in place. There were large communal hearths, as well as small charcoal ovens lined with clay. Some of the stored clay bore the footprint of a child 8 to 10 years old. Three crude wooden mortars were also found, held in place by wooden stakes. Grinding stones (metates) were uncovered, along with the remains of wild potatoes, medicinal plants, and sea coast plants with a high salt content. (Primitive Mythology)



North America



…by 11,000 BC Japanese of the Jomon culture were using pottery--the earliest known extensive ceramics industry in the world--and living for all or most of the year in communities of pit-houses, subsisting on a rich and varied diet of deer, bear, whale, salmon and many other fish, seabirds, shellfish in abundance, and numerous kinds of berries, nuts, and other plants. (Patterns in Prehistory)