Tools around 12,000 BC

The Globe




Southwest Asia

Her findings came, in particular from a cave (Mugharet El-Wad) on the western side of Mount Carmel, near the town of Athlit, in present-day Israel. The excavations revealed more than one hundred individual human burials on the terrace directly in front of the cave. Some were found with ornamentation of bone, stone or shells. Many of the flint tools found at the site were of a lunate form (i.e. shaped like the crescent of the moon). These could be used for a variety of purposes, but of particular interest were the larger ones that could be used as sickle blades attached to a wooden or bone handle, to form a scythe that could be used for harvesting cereals. Many of the tools show patterns of wear that confirm intensive and lengthy use for this purpose. In addition, there was a wide range of grinding equipment, including querns, pounders and pestles and mortars, which suggested great reliance on cereals and nuts for food. Other tools found include scrapers for treating animal skins, points for wood and bone working, awls for piercing, fish hooks and stones used as fishing weights, skins and decorative beads. There is also evidence of bow and corded fibres. An ornately carved deer scapula was found to have wear markings that indicated that it was used in the smoothing and straightening of wooden shafts, presumably for arrows. (Climate Change in Prehistory)


...something highly unusual really did take place in Egypt sometime between 13,000 and 12,000 BC. At four Isnan sites on the Upper Nile - at Isna (from which the culture takes its name), at Naqada, at Dishna, and at Tushka, 125 miles up river from Aswan - palaeontologists have unearthed clear evidence that these ancient peoples selected and grew their own cereal crops. Stone sickle blades were used to reap the harvests, while grinding-stones were employed to extract the maximum amount of grain.' Not only did the Isnan possess a primitive form of agriculture, they would also appear to have mastered animal domestication and to have possessed a highly advanced microblade technology. (From the Ashes of Angels)

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 1931 a trawler working in the southern North Sea dredged up a lump of peat containing an exquisitely crafted spearhead made from a deer's antler. Dated as being nearly 14 kyr old, this artefact was dramatic evidence of how early humans exploited the broad expanses of land that had been exposed during the last ice age, and were only reclaimed by the sea some 7 kya. When this spearhead was buried, dense oak forests had yet to spread into the region, known to archaeologists as 'Doggerland', where now the sea is over 30m deep. This famous find emphasises that the rise in sea level between about 15 and 5 kya covered up large areas of habitable land that had been exploited by humans and made movement around the continental margins easier. (Climate Change in Prehistory)

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)



North America