Stone Age n.
1. The earliest known period of human culture, characterized by the use of stone tools.
2. Slang An extremely backward or primitive era or state:
Have you ever been around teenagers who talked and acted as if their parents, teachers, and adults in general didn’t have a clue and were just plain dumb? Evolutionary thinking takes this attitude to the extreme.
Just saying the word “primitive” makes most of us picture something simple, poorly made, low quality, low brain power. But the word didn’t use to mean that:
late 14c., “of an original cause; of a thing from which something is derived; not secondary” (a sense now associated with primary)…
Meaning “of or belonging to the first age” is from early 15c. Meaning “having the style of an early or ancient time” is from 1680s. In Christian sense of “adhering to the qualities of the early Church” it is recorded from 1680s. Of untrained artists from 1942.
c. 1400, “original ancestor,” from Latin primitivus (see primitive (adj.)). Meaning “aboriginal person in a land visited by Europeans” is from 1779, hence the sense “uncivilized person.”
Talk about politically incorrect! They first used this for humans on living people as if they had never advanced to the level of “modern” Europeans. You might notice they started talking this way long before Darwin’s book. He wasn’t the first to think of himself and his close relatives as superior, he just gave people a framework to ‘prove’ what they already wanted to believe.
Life in the Stone Age
Here’s the question: Can you tell how smart a person was based on the things they made and materials they made them out of?
Imagine you find yourself traveling with one of the first families scattering from the Tower of Babel. Your dad wasn’t one of the few powerful enough to claim land next to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, so you packed the little your family had and headed out into the wide world.
With only a few adult men in your group and the women busy with little ones, there were only a couple things on everyone’s mind:
- Finding shelter from the raging storms that would blow in
- Finding food for your hungry bellies
For some time, perhaps even years or generations, your family wandered around, gathering what wild food was in the area and hunting the animals who had gotten there ahead of you.
It was just you, your small family and the wide, wide world.
We see this all the time in history books. The first evidence we find of human habitation shows people living as “Hunter Gatherers”. Then after some time most people settled down to farm and eventually had enough of a population base to build towns and civilizations with advanced materials and equipment.
None of these first people were spending time hanging out near a blacksmith shop to trade furs for a new knife or spearhead.
Remember reading about Native Americans and their stone arrowheads? They were part of a long, rich history of people who knew how to take the natural materials around them and turn them into highly effective tools.
I’d heard of Obsidian as a kind of volcanic rock for ages, but never paid it much attention. Here’s the basics:
Graeme K Ward, Australian National University: Obsidian is a natural volcanic glass, usually of rhyolitic composition. Its vitreous or non-crystalline character is produced by the rapid cooling of a highly siliceous molten magma, often by quenching in a body of water, as when a lava flow runs into the sea.
Did you catch that? It often formed when lava hits, wait for it,… water! And it’s not just found in one spot on earth. It’s found in many volcanic locations. What’s interesting is, it changes form to become unpopped Perlite if it gets exposed to water for very long, so we never find obsidian below the Cretaceous layers.
What it’s good for
Obsidian can be flaked down to a single molecule thick forming an incredibly sharp point or edge. Today you can buy a surgeon’s scalpel made with a tiny obsidian blade. As you will see in the video, an arrowhead made of obsidian can punch right through an elk. If you had access to it, you could make yourself a world class hunting tool in a few hours.
Warning: the opening seconds show a pierced elk with the arrowhead protruding. Not too horrible, but…
You can read an article with the same demonstration at WikiHow
Even the people who staked a claim to land right near Babel and started working with metal as soon as possible liked obsidian. The Egyptians didn’t have any of their own, so they had it shipped to them.
Those who moved farther into Africa used obsidian from very early on (not millions of years like they claim, but you get the idea).
I’m not going to post links or pictures, but the Axtecs developed a kind of chopping weapon with obsidian embedded in a wooden post that could cut a horse’s head off in one stroke.
So, why aren’t we using obsidian all the time?
If you’ve watched the video you see how light the antlers the guy uses to chip away at it are. As soon as possible people made whatever they didn’t want to replace all the time out of metal. What you lose in sharpness you more than gain in sturdiness.
But, as you can see, as soon as we find signs of human habitation, we find signs of human smarts. Not only that, but we find people carrying useful supplies with them wherever possible.
These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood. Genesis 10:32
Bonus Quote: The Current, Professor Pierce Brings Ancient Obsidian to Light: Another benefit of combining theory with hard science is that archaeologists can more fully appreciate the ingenuity of preceding cultures. Pierce said that systematically studying the culture of the people indigenous to the Americas led some early European visitors to hold them in a higher regard. The same holds true today, as technology lends archaeologists more information about the pieces of the past. Sourcing certain substances to origin points a thousand miles away, understanding the mathematical accuracy of prehistoric architecture, and studying the precision of ancient tools can alter the way a person perceives his or her predecessors. Pierce said, “They weren’t savages; they did way more than we give them credit for.”