Re: Old Tools

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 3 Mar 1997 10:51:51 -0800 (PST)

Jay Reynolds Freeman writes:
>> "perfectly preserved 400,000 year old wooden spears"!
>There's no reason for the exclamation point except perhaps to remark
>on the fact that circumstances conspired to preserve artifacts made
>from organic substance for that long. Stone tools which most people
>would say are of comparable complexity to simple wooden spears, if not
>more complex, are known from something like two million years before
>the present; also dating from a million years ago, or longer, is
>indirect evidence of the use of leather containers (polishing of stone
>artifacts, or maybe it was bone), and evidence of possible systematic
>use of fire (not to say its creation).

Fascinating! Thanks for the lit summary.

>> Just what *did* happen to humans in the last 50,000 years?
>A fine question; possibly the time should be a little more remote,
>but that's a detail. Biologically, nobody knows, and there is much
>controversy. Culturally, by degrees, fancier technology, and evidence
>of larger-scale and more sophisticated cooperation.

and Michael Lorrey writes:
>smaller, not bigger. What they probably did not have was a stable enough
>community to allow for even tribalism, which would work to develop a
>verbal community history, helping to preserve acquired knowledge.

So perhaps are big recent leap was in social, not physical,
technology. We social technology specialists would like to think so!

Robin D. Hanson