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300,000-year-old throwing stick documents the evolution of hunting

 
 
Reply Mon 20 Apr, 2020 12:59 pm
Ice Age hunters in northern Europe were highly skilled and used a wide range of effective weapons. A wooden throwing stick found by the team of the University of Tübingen and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment in Schöningen, Lower Saxony, Germany, highlights the complexity of early hunting. The discovery is presented in a new paper in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Research at Schöningen demonstrates that already 300,000 years ago Homo heidelbergensis used a combination of throwing sticks, spears and thrusting lances. Prof. Nicholas Conard and Dr. Jordi Serangeli, who lead the research team, attribute the exceptional discovery to the outstanding preservation of wooden artifacts in the water saturated lakeside sediments in Schöningen.

https://i.imgur.com/R6aphQV.jpg
Experiments show that throwing sticks of this size reach maximum speeds of 30 meters per second.


Press release University Tübene (with link to photos and video: 300,000-year-old throwing stick documents the evolution of hunting

The discovery is presented in a new paper in Nature Ecology & Evolution: A 300,000-year-old throwing stick from Schöningen, northern Germany, documents the evolution of human hunting

More - and general background information - at "Paleolithic & Neolithic History": Paleolithic Spears - 300,000 Years old Sensation


 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 20 Apr, 2020 01:04 pm
Thanks, Walter.
0 Replies
 
Sturgis
 
  2  
Reply Mon 20 Apr, 2020 01:36 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Much obliged for these items.
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Apr, 2020 01:57 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Smile
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2020 04:16 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Its amazing how new information and evidence can refute earlier assumptions about our ancestors as brutish near -apes. Theres evidence of a lot of working to the wood.
PS, did they drop the last period name from MINDEL on that time line?
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2020 04:23 am
@farmerman,
Achh , forget it I just missed the Mindel . Im used to Nebraskan, Illinoian, Kansan, and Wisconsin glaciation. (And now weve changed our names to a more Alphaneumeric one. I hate those little computer like Excel, they take the poetry out of science.
livinglava
 
  0  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 10:44 am
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:

Its amazing how new information and evidence can refute earlier assumptions about our ancestors as brutish near -apes. Theres evidence of a lot of working to the wood.

Why does wood-working seem to contradict brutishness in your mind?

People worship instruments that give them power. Didn't you see the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey?

If you have lots of time to spend worshiping and polishing the sticks you've found that make the best weapons, they're going to get very refined and adorned over time.

It's not a question of being more brutish or more civilized but rather what kinds of civilized behaviors brutes engage in when they're not brutalizing.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 11:10 am
@farmerman,
Today, there's a report in the NYT as well:

A Short, Pointy, 300,000-Year-Old Clue to Our Ancestors’ Hunting Prowess
Quote:
Archaeologists in Germany found a throwing stick that might have been used by a species that preceded Neanderthals.

By Nicholas St. Fleur
April 22, 2020

What’s so special about a 300,000-year-old stick stuck in the muck?

“It’s a stick, sure,” said Jordi Serangeli, an archaeologist from the University of Tübingen in Germany. But to dismiss it as such, he added, would be like calling Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon “only dirt with a print.”

That’s because the short, pointed piece of wood his team found in Schöningen, Germany, in 2016 may be the newest addition to the hunting arsenal used by extinct human ancestors during the Middle Pleistocene. It was probably a throwing stick that was hurled like a non-returning boomerang, spinning through the air before striking birds, rabbits or other prey.

Along with thrusting spears and javelins, it is the third class of wooden weapon discovered at the waterlogged site, occupied by either Neanderthals or their, and supposedly our, heavy-browed ancestors, Homo heidelbergensis.

When, in 1995, the Schöningen spears were discovered they pierced the debate over whether our early human relatives in Europe were simple scavengers incapable of crafting hunting tools. The throwing stick discovery adds to evidence that early hominins in our lineage were intelligent enough to prepare weapons and communicate together to topple prey. The paper was published Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

“We can show that already 300,000 years ago, not only are these late Homo heidelbergensis or very early Neanderthals at the top of the food chain,” said Nicholas Conard, an archaeologist at the university, “but they also have a whole range of important technological skills they can use to make sure they can feed themselves and lead their lives.”

Schöningen, which was once a lake shore, is known for its pristine preservation of organic material. The muddy sediment has defended wet artifacts from decay. Excavations have uncovered bone tools, slaughtered horses and saber-toothed cat teeth.

Their colleague, Martin Kursch, an excavator at the site, found the stick, which was about half the size of a pool cue and weighed about half a pound. It differed from thrusting spears and javelins because it was much shorter, and slightly curved.

Dr. Conard noticed the wood piece resembled a short stick found in 1994 by Hartmut Thieme, the archaeologist who showcased the Schöningen spears. Dr. Thieme had called his find a “throwing stick” but lacked evidence to support his claim. Other researchers interpreted it as a child’s spear, a root digger or a bark peeler.

“I remember picking it up, and I was afraid it would just fall apart, it was kind of terrifying,” Dr. Conard said. “But in fact it wasn’t like that at all. To the touch it was solid.”

They placed the stick in a cool, dark water bath to keep it moist and protected from microbes. Gerlinde Bigga, an archaeobotanist at the university, analyzed its cell structure and found it was carved from a solid piece of spruce.

“You could harm some animals with that,” Dr. Bigga said.

Next, Veerle Rots, a paleoarchaeologist at the University of Liège in Belgium, examined it to determine its purpose.

“If you look at the piece you could perhaps think it’s a mini spear, but that’s not the case,” said Dr. Rots. “Throwing sticks are pointed at both ends, but that’s actually for the flight trajectory, it’s not for piercing.” Similar features are seen in certain Aboriginal Tasmanian throwing sticks.

Dr. Rots found a large gash near the stick’s center, which suggested it had struck something.

“It was very exciting for me to see there was impact evidence, and I could make a case that it was a throwing stick,” she said.

Annemieke Milks, a paleoarchaeologist from the University College London, who was not involved with the study, said the finding “helps us to build a picture of the diversity of hunting technologies available to Eurasian Middle Pleistocene hominins.”

But Sabine Gaudzinski-Windheuser, a paleoarchaeologist at Germany’s Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, was not convinced. Had the wooden tool been a throwing stick, she would have expected to see significant scars on its tips rather than near its center.

Dr. Rots disagreed, saying any part of the flying stick could have struck a target. Her team plans to perform ballistic testing with a wooden recreation to demonstrate that the throwing stick was a dangerous weapon for early hominin hunters.




livinglava
 
  0  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 11:17 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:

What’s so special about a 300,000-year-old stick stuck in the muck?

“It’s a stick, sure,” said Jordi Serangeli, an archaeologist from the University of Tübingen in Germany. But to dismiss it as such, he added, would be like calling Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon “only dirt with a print.”

It's interesting when science is used to generate idols for religious worship.

You could say that people worship the moon landings as part of a religion of modernism.

If so, what do you call the worship of ancient relics like the sticks described here? Ancestralism: Ancestor worship?
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 11:30 am
@livinglava,
Quote:
If so, what do you call the worship of ancient relics like the sticks described here?

How do you support your contention that the ancient stick is or was used for "worship"?
livinglava
 
  -2  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 12:04 pm
@hightor,
hightor wrote:

Quote:
If so, what do you call the worship of ancient relics like the sticks described here?

How do you support your contention that the ancient stick is or was used for "worship"?

Well, I was analyzing the quote I posted from Walter's post about the sticks being special in the same way the moon landing relics are.

The implication in that quote was that the science of moon exploration and/or archaeology go beyond objective scientific study and that they are something very 'special,' i.e. worthy of worship.

So I was just reflecting on the fact that people worship things like the moon landing or ancient artifacts like a kind of religion, not just for the sake of increasing scientific knowledge/understanding.
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 12:14 pm
@livinglava,
Who "worships" the moon landing?

From an anthropological perspective, the shaped throwing stick represents one of the earliest examples of hominid technology, deserving of respect and admiration, but certainly not "worship". Neither the stick nor the moon landings denote anything remotely supernatural.
livinglava
 
  -2  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 12:26 pm
@hightor,
hightor wrote:

Who "worships" the moon landing?

From an anthropological perspective, the shaped throwing stick represents one of the earliest examples of hominid technology, deserving of respect and admiration, but certainly not "worship". Neither the stick nor the moon landings denote anything remotely supernatural.

You're splitting hairs. "Respect and admiration," in the context you're using them are forms of worship. Respect can technically mean that you just refrain from disrespect, but the way you are using it refers to more of an affirmative worship-type regard, certainly 'admiration,' does.

The point is that technically the moon landing was a scientific mission to gather evidence from the moon for study; but in practice it was televised and the flag planted and it became an object of worship and ethnic rivalry.

So when you read this article where the writer is talking about how special it is to find a prehistoric weapon and not just about how the artifact adds to our understanding of prehistorical human life, then you can see there is some kind of worship going on there and not just objective science.
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 12:35 pm
@livinglava,
livinglava wrote:
So when you read this article where the writer is talking about how special it is to find a prehistoric weapon and not just about how the artifact adds to our understanding of prehistorical human life, then you can see there is some kind of worship going on there and not just objective science.
So does your analyse of that sentence in the the NYT (perhaps translated from one of the languages Dr. Jordi Serangeli speaks - "German, Italian [mother tongue], Spanish [second mother tongue], French [very good] and good knowledge of English, Catalan and Latin -) mean that he is doing some kind of worship and not just objective science or is that your general view of the Tübingen University's department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology?
hightor
 
  2  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 12:45 pm
@livinglava,
Quote:
"Respect and admiration," in the context you're using them are forms of worship.

Not really. These hominids existed 300,000 years ago. We normally think of these early humanoids as primitive or "brutish" but to see a hand-crafted utilitarian item fashioned by them gives us reason to think of those artisans as deserving of respect and we can admire their skill as toolmakers and hunters. But that isn't any indication of a worshipful attitude.

Quote:
...but in practice it was televised and the flag planted and it became an object of worship and ethnic rivalry.

No, the nationalistic flag was never an object of "worship". It was nothing more than a calling card. Humans love to litter and leave graffiti — "Kilroy was here".

Quote:
...then you can see there is some kind of worship going on there and not just objective science.

Putting an archeological discovery in a cultural context is not anything like "worship".
livinglava
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 05:22 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:

livinglava wrote:
So when you read this article where the writer is talking about how special it is to find a prehistoric weapon and not just about how the artifact adds to our understanding of prehistorical human life, then you can see there is some kind of worship going on there and not just objective science.
So does your analyse of that sentence in the the NYT (perhaps translated from one of the languages Dr. Jordi Serangeli speaks - "German, Italian [mother tongue], Spanish [second mother tongue], French [very good] and good knowledge of English, Catalan and Latin -) mean that he is doing some kind of worship and not just objective science or is that your general view of the Tübingen University's department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology?

I explained it already. Why do you make it so complicated?

If you have a different interpretation of the part of the article I quoted and analyzed, post it and I'll discuss it with you.
0 Replies
 
livinglava
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 05:35 pm
@hightor,
hightor wrote:

Quote:
"Respect and admiration," in the context you're using them are forms of worship.

Not really. These hominids existed 300,000 years ago. We normally think of these early humanoids as primitive or "brutish" but to see a hand-crafted utilitarian item fashioned by them gives us reason to think of those artisans as deserving of respect and we can admire their skill as toolmakers and hunters. But that isn't any indication of a worshipful attitude.

It was indicated in the article by comparing it with the moon landing in terms of it being 'special' vs. 'just an old stick' (or however they put it).

Quote:
Quote:
...but in practice it was televised and the flag planted and it became an object of worship and ethnic rivalry.

No, the nationalistic flag was never an object of "worship". It was nothing more than a calling card. Humans love to litter and leave graffiti — "Kilroy was here".

You seem oblivious to really obvious analysis of mass cultural phenomena.

Quote:
Quote:
...then you can see there is some kind of worship going on there and not just objective science.

Putting an archeological discovery in a cultural context is not anything like "worship".

Putting in scientific context would have involved explaining its relevance in comparison with past evidence, theories, etc.

Talking about how 'special' it is by comparing it to the moon landings, a totally unrelated scientific venture that just happens to be considered the most awe-inspiring achievement of the 20th century by many science/technology-WORSHIPERS, takes it out of the context of scientific theory and into the context of popular ranking of how awe-inspiring a given scientific discovery is.

Face it, scientists play into this worship culture all the time because it brings public interest and funding. Many people would get bored with science if they started worshiping a given bit of science for how awe-inspiring it was and scientists rained on their parade by contextualizing it in terms of a wider discourse.

Some people want deep understanding of science, but many just want "magic that works," as Kurt Vonnegut described it.

farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2020 06:39 pm
@livinglava,
Quote:
Why does wood-working seem to contradict brutishness in your mind?
It was a term of art used by archaeologists and paleoanthropologists. I last saw it used as a technical term in a book that was for a number of years a standard text in paleoanthropology. It was by Herbert Wendt a German entitled
Ich Suchte Adam The English Titl was in the infinitive.

Calling anybody from the Mousterian on down "brutish" was common fare .

Tool making especially resources that were hand worked and fashioned toward a purpose requires learned "skills" not mere instinct.
Some animals use tools but none are fashioned in a uniform manner.
Uniformly fashioned tools is therefore "un-animal like"(which was the meaning of brutish)

hightor
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Apr, 2020 06:16 am
@livinglava,
Yeah, sure.
0 Replies
 
livinglava
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 23 Apr, 2020 07:19 am
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:

Quote:
Why does wood-working seem to contradict brutishness in your mind?
It was a term of art used by archaeologists and paleoanthropologists. I last saw it used as a technical term in a book that was for a number of years a standard text in paleoanthropology. It was by Herbert Wendt a German entitled
Ich Suchte Adam The English Titl was in the infinitive.

Calling anybody from the Mousterian on down "brutish" was common fare .

The only question is what the term means and whether it applies or not and why. Citation and rhetorical posturing are too often used as a substitute for clear explanation of reasoning in academic literature, wouldn't you agree?

Quote:
Tool making especially resources that were hand worked and fashioned toward a purpose requires learned "skills" not mere instinct.

It depends on what you mean by 'instinct' and how it relates to 'skill' and human agency more generally. Is a wholly calculated and intentional murder less 'brutish' than one committed in the heat of passion by someone who has completely lost their temper?
What exactly constitutes 'brutish' behavior?
Further, what does it have to do with skill? If a person is gentle but unskilled, are they more 'brutish' than someone who is skilled but harsh?

Quote:
Some animals use tools but none are fashioned in a uniform manner.
Uniformly fashioned tools is therefore "un-animal like"(which was the meaning of brutish)

Isn't uniformity and habitual behavior generally the same? If an animal has an instinctual way of doing something, it's going to do it in more or less the same way every time because it is acting on habit and not creative/innovative intentionality.

Conscious/intentional thought allows for specific choices, while unconscious repetition produces uniformity, no?

To put it another way, self-control is required to consciously/intentionally deviate from patterns, while uniformity can result from mindless following recipes. So do you think the 'brutes' who made those spears and sticks were conscious of their process and making intentional choices or were they following a recipe pattern learned from copying someone else's actions?

Really, these kinds of questions are too detailed to answer from relics alone. I don't think you can really know what kind of (cognitive) behavior was behind them. You can say there was skill, but does that make humans less animalistic in the sense we think of animals, i.e. as being less conscious/intentional in their actions? Idk.

 

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