4.VI: Archaeology Gallery

After 30 TYA, more artifacts made of organic materials are left behind.  Craftsmen got increasingly meticulous with small precision tools.  Needles, fishhooks, and harpoons were common.

Harpoon tips made of reindeer antler. France 15 – 20 TYA. 1

The bow-and-arrow was a powerful stone-age weapon. 

These “fluted” Clovis arrowheads are among the oldest artifacts found in America. 2

The Neolithic (“new stone”) period is partly defined by the appearance of polished stones.

Polished Japanese axe 3

Pottery and basketry appeared more than 20 TYA. 4 The best surviving artifacts are under 10 TYO.

Pottery from Iran c. 7,000 years ago. 5

The oldest known man-made shelters were huts made of mammoth bones.

Museum replica of a mammoth bone hut, Russia, 15 – 20 TYA. 6

Towns similar to modern apartment complexes appeared a little over 10 TYA.

Reconstruction of Catal Hoyuk, Turkey 7

As agriculturalists, people began breeding new varieties of existing species, many of them no longer recognizable as their natural forms.

Genetically modified mustard: An example of several new “man-made” life forms bred from one natural species. 8

Megaliths – arrangements of giant stones – were common in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.  They were so difficult to erect that we can infer they must have been very important.  They probably served as temples, cemeteries, and other exalted community spaces.

Stonehenge, England, 3rd millennium BCE. 9

King Tut’s golden chariot embodies many highlights of this chapter:  Civilization, metallurgy, wheels, and the domestication of animals.

Museum replica 10

Since the 4th millennium BCE, writing has been capturing history and mythology so that we can remember it to this day.

This stone tells part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, a legend that has influenced other classics, including the bible. 11


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  1. Harpoon photo:  Muséum de Toulouse, CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Harpons_de_Fontal%C3%A9s_MHNT.PRE.2011.0.654.jpg (accessed, saved, and archived 1/26/20).
  2. Arrowheads photo:  Billwhittaker at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clovis_Rummells_Maske.jpg (accessed, saved, and archived 1/26/20).
  3. Axe photo:  Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%E7%A3%A8%E8%A3%BD%E7%9F%B3%E6%96%A7-Polished_Stone_Axe_(Masei_sekifu)_MET_LC-1975_268_265_001.jpg (accessed, saved, and archived 1/26/20).
  4. James M. Adovasio, Olga Soffer, and Bohuslav Klima, “Upper Palaeolithic fibre technology:  interlaced woven finds from Pavlov I, Czech Republic, c. 26,000 years ago”, Antiquity 70(269):526-534 (Sep., 1996), https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquity/article/upper-palaeolithic-fibre-technology-interlaced-woven-finds-from-pavlov-i-czech-republic-c-26000-years-ago/CD78BC4A39E2DD6958ACA29BA1BA30DA (paywall, abstract accessed 1/26/20).  As summarized by Shanti Menon, “The Basket Age”, Discover (12/31/1995), https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/the-basket-age (accessed, saved, and archived 1/26/20).
  5. Pottery photo:  Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prehistoric_Painted_Pottery_Vessel_LACMA_M.76.174.156.jpg (accessed, saved, and archived 1/26/20).
  6. Mammoth hut photo:  Nandaro, CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mammoth_House_(Replica).JPG (accessed and saved 1/26/20).
  7. Village reconstruction photo:  Wolfgang Sauber, CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MUFT_-_Catal_H%C3%B6y%C3%BCk_Modell.jpg (accessed and saved 1/26/20).
  8. Mustard image:  Liwnoc, CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wild_Mustard_Plant_Selective_Breeding.svg (accessed, saved, and archived 1/26/20).
  9. Stonehenge photo by Howard Walsh, Pixabay License, https://pixabay.com/photos/stonehenge-travel-tourist-england-4614639/ (accessed and saved 1/26/20).
  10. King Tut chariot photo by Carsten Frenzl, CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Replica_of_Tutankhamun%E2%80%99s_chariot_(side_view).jpg (accessed, saved, and archived 1/16/20).
  11. Gilgamesh photo by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg), CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tablet_V_of_the_Epic_of_Gilgamesh.jpg (accessed, saved, and archived 1/26/20).
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