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Amourphous Silicon- Circa 14,000 B.C.E.

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posted on May, 17 2005 @ 01:37 AM
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Think of a common stone-age artifact: the projectile point, or arrowhead. It elicits an image of the primitive, brutish human grunting and panting-

there is just one problem: that point is the product of an advanced technology.

I stumbled upon this factoid after a lifetime of 'trying to make arrowheads'. Mine always look like, well, triangular rocks. I could not understand how anyone could shape a Clovis point, with delicate symmetrical fluting.

Now I understand.

The earliest humans heat-treated silicate rocks under controlled conditions- using a technology akin to growing silicon memory blanks.

There never were any primitive humans.

To obtain the materials, perform the tasks in order- to know what to do and when to do it- when we look at lithic technologies we are looking at some strikingly advanced thinkers.

While this may not be news to all of you, it was to me.

I have a new respect for early humans.

More info here:

The Art of Flintknapping by D.C. Waldorf

Have you ever found any arrowheads?

[edit on 17-5-2005 by Chakotay]




posted on May, 17 2005 @ 01:50 AM
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Well some African Cultures had Iron and Steel making capabilities before anyone else(thousands of years before anyone else) the only reason it was glossed over in the History books(or omitted alltogether) is because the cultures who developed the technique never spread it throughout the world. I believe there is a thread talking about this very subject with some very surprising revalations. I'll try to dig it up.



posted on May, 17 2005 @ 05:42 PM
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Thanks, Sardion. I've also learned that many ancient stone projectile points were finished with copper tools. So while we picture something as 'stone age', it may represent a metalic culture- for example, obsidian is still used to this day for opthalmic knives, as it can be sharpened down to one molecular diameter.

I studied chalcolithic points for years in books, museums and the field- but actually doing live experiments by hand in person makes you realize that there was far more to 'primitive man' than banging two rocks about.



posted on May, 19 2005 @ 09:37 AM
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Originally posted by sardion2000
Well some African Cultures had Iron and Steel making capabilities before anyone else(thousands of years before anyone else)


Do you have a reference?



posted on May, 19 2005 @ 11:04 AM
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Originally posted by ChakotayI stumbled upon this factoid after a lifetime of 'trying to make arrowheads'. Mine always look like, well, triangular rocks. I could not understand how anyone could shape a Clovis point, with delicate symmetrical fluting.


Practice. Go to any archaeology department and ask for the local flintknapper. The one associated with the White Shaman site in Del Rio, Texas, does museum quality work.

Heck, *I*'ve done it. You just need the right kind of rocks.


Now I understand.

The earliest humans heat-treated silicate rocks under controlled conditions- using a technology akin to growing silicon memory blanks.

Actually, that's not what the paper/site says. It says that they heat-treated rocks, and yes we knew that. But you're reading WAY too much into this.

Now, for the record, when I was at the San Saba dig last year, I was part of the field survey crew. We went out to survey a field for other sites, found a very nice midden and found a lot of fire-cracked rock. I also found chips of flint that were the wrong color for the area (dull red instead of gray) and took them to the senior staff to ask if this was trade goods.

They weren't. They were fire-worked rocks.

This isn't magic or sophisticated tech. If you put flint in your campfire, it will turn red (at campfire temperatures.) In fact, you can flake it and change it by putting it in your campfire and then dropping it in water (but stand far away because it WILL shatter into small pieces.

We have flint cores that show dimpling from where an edge was held in the fire until it got hot and was later knapped out into another shape.

It's simple tech. It's lovely tech, it's sophisticated Stone Age tech, but it is still stone age tech with no control over time in the fire or temperature or position, etc. The variation in the cores and blades and points show that.

I also did a bit of rock shop work and rockhounding, and it's pretty well known that you can smarten up a piece of gray flint by putting it in the oven or campfire.

Ain't nuffin' else. You can try it for yourself. Make sure you've got real flint, though, and not quartzite.



posted on May, 19 2005 @ 11:07 AM
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Originally posted by Chakotay
Thanks, Sardion. I've also learned that many ancient stone projectile points were finished with copper tools.


HOW?

Copper is a LOT softer than stone. Do you mean "decorated" or "bordered" with copper? If so, yes, we know about that. If you mean "ground to a sharp point or modified" then I really, really would like to see references because copper is a lot softer than stone. I can cut copper with any flint blade I care to knap out but have never seen copper that could knap flint or glass.



posted on May, 20 2005 @ 12:07 AM
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Originally posted by Byrd
I can cut copper with any flint blade I care to knap out but have never seen copper that could knap flint or glass.


Hi Byrd. There is an entire chalcolithic technology based upon copper billets (where we usually use elk antler bases) for striking off flakes and copper pressure flakers (where we usually use antler tines) for finishing.

This is Hopewell/Great Lakes/Pacific Northwest/Central and South American tech.

Of course it can be argued that found copper can be easily worked into such 'crude' tools.

My main point is that, I bet if you asked any hundred americans- or Indians- not one would know that 'arrowheads' were often the product of purposefully heat-treated rock. Now from a psychological perspective, I think this kind of mindful, scientific technique argues for a greater intellectual capacity- and perhaps antiquity- than we ordinarily credit early humans with. I have grown up making arrowheads with elders- but most used obsidian, or bottle bottoms that need no heat treating. I am amazed that the mammoth hunters developed such a sophisticated technique in a survival setting.

I make Clovis blades now. It took me more than four decades of study to master the technique. I want to try using some memory core melts for cores to leave the archaeologists of the far future something to mull over


I am in awe of these ancient humans.



posted on May, 20 2005 @ 09:57 AM
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Originally posted by Chakotay
Hi Byrd. There is an entire chalcolithic technology based upon copper billets (where we usually use elk antler bases) for striking off flakes and copper pressure flakers (where we usually use antler tines) for finishing.

My bad! I read your paragraph as indicating that the prehistoric Native Americans used it.


My main point is that, I bet if you asked any hundred americans- or Indians- not one would know that 'arrowheads' were often the product of purposefully heat-treated rock.

We need to educate them, don't we?


The sad thing is that there's a lot of this that the scholars know but it isn't being passed along.

On my Flickr page, there's two views of a uniface sotol knife done in the local (Del Rio) flint by the flintknapper I mentioned:
www.flickr.com...@N00/?saved=1

Haven't yanked off the other material, but as I said, it's museum quality stuff. Will have to put it up sometime this month.


Now from a psychological perspective, I think this kind of mindful, scientific technique argues for a greater intellectual capacity- and perhaps antiquity- than we ordinarily credit early humans with. I have grown up making arrowheads with elders- but most used obsidian, or bottle bottoms that need no heat treating.

Heh. Ah, how the traditions change!

I personally didn't like working with the glass materials, but that's a "me" thing. It was pretty but the fractures were different.

Anyway, the differences in the properties is why the people who lived beyond the Mississippi river would trade for the Ouachita flints. I think that locally here in Texas the Alibates flints were a preferred material, and I've seen pigment rocks (hematite) that was hauled by the Jumano traders from the Caddo areas up to where the Comanches lived. The trade networks covered most of the Americas by 1500 AD, although there wasn't much trade contact between North America and South America.


I am amazed that the mammoth hunters developed such a sophisticated technique in a survival setting.


(g) You underestimate the ancestors. When they came, they had quite a bit of sophisticated technology, including that of weaving cloth from some materials (I came across this fairly recently in scholarly papers... took the longest time to figure out when loom and weaving technology got here (answer is with the original Amerinds... backstrap looms have been found that date to the Clovis era.)

Part of the problem is that it's hard to locate the information and some of it is buried under a mound of scholarly language. There's a lot of disinformation (Atlantis stuff, aliens from the sky showing the Simple Red Man how to survive) out there and a lot of disinterest.

We focus too much on America and the Caucasian civilizations. During the 10,000 to 5,000 BC time period the AmerInd population was the technological equal of all the other world civilization and there were some building techniques that they develop (adobe construction techniques) that we don't see reproduced elsewhere until much later. Their use of fire and selective harvesting and land and plant management techniques really are amazingly sophisticated and they changed the ecology of the Sierra region with them.

Take a gander at THIS page for some pretty interesting stuff about how they managed ecosystems (it's in readable English; not Scholar) :
www.wildlandfire.com...

...and another -- they even used fire to ensure that willow shoots of the proper quality would be available for basketmaking at the right time:
cekern.ucdavis.edu...


I make Clovis blades now. It took me more than four decades of study to master the technique. I want to try using some memory core melts for cores to leave the archaeologists of the far future something to mull over

:lol Oh, that should be fun! But don't expect it to behave like any other material you've worked with! Do show us what you come up with.


I am in awe of these ancient humans.


We need to teach folks just how sophisticated our ancestors are. I just hate the "ape-man" image.

[edit on 20-5-2005 by Byrd]



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