Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lunar Calender (c. 15,000 B.C.E.)

Early humans record the passing of time.

The earliest known lunar calendar is in the caves at Lascaux, southwest France, and dates from around 15,000 B.C.E. Various series of spots represent half of the moon's near-monthly cycle, followed by a large empty square, which perhaps indicate a clear sky.

A lunar calendar counts months (a period of 29.5350588 days) and is based on the phases of the moon. Months ahve twenty-nine  and thirty days alternately, and additional days are added ever now and then to keep step with the actual moon phase.

The lunar calendar was widely used in parts of the ancient world for religious observations. Agriculturally the lunar calendar is confusing as it takes no account of annual seasonal variations in temperature, daylight length, plant growth, animal migration, and mating. The lunar month divides into the solar year twelve times but with 10.88 days remaining.

Meton of Athens (circa 440 B.C.E.) noticed that nineteen solar years were equal to 234.997 lunar months. This led to the nineteen-year Metonic cycle where years three, five, eight, eleven, thirteen, sixteen, and nineteen had thirteen lunar months each, and all the other years had twelve months.
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ancient Braide Rope (c. 17,000 B.C.E)

Fibers are twisted into a valuable tool.

One of the oldest artifacts in the world, rope is still extensively used in many environments. It seems unlikely that it will be replaced for many years. Traditionally made from the natural fibers such as hemp, jute, or coir, rope is now also made from synthetic materials such as nylon and even steel.

Rope is a braided fiber, twisted to form a supple, strong medium. Its strenght is tensile, so its main use is to link objects, one of which acts as a stable anchor for the others to hang from or pull against. The oldest evidence of man-made rope was found in the caves of Lascaux, southwest France, and date from 17,000 B.C.E. Rope has always been used to tie and carry prey, making it an essential hunting tool.

Before machinery made it possible to create long lengths of rope, essential in sailing ships, weaving fibers was done by hand - an arduous process. The ancient Egyptians developed the first tool for weaving rope, which they used to move huge stones. Machines for spinning long lengths of rope were later housed in buildings called cake-walks, or roperies, which could be upto 300 yards long. A prime example of such a ropery exists in the farmer naval dockyard in Chatham, England, where rope is still produced on the premises after nearly 300 years. This ropery, 440 yards(400m) long, was built in 1720 and at that time was the longest building in England.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ancient Boomerang (c. 18,000 B.C.E.)

The advent of an easily retrievable weapon.

The oldest boomerang so far found was discovered in a cave in the Carpathian Mountains in southern Poland and is believed to be date form 18,000 B.C.E. The practice of throwing wood has also been illustrated in North African rock paintings tha date from the Neolithic Age (approximately 6000 B.C.E) The wood thrown consists variously of a "throwing club," where the effect is concentrated at one end, or a "throwing stick," a sharpened, straight rod of hard wood that rotates, or a boomerang, which developed from these into a specialized from and has a return throw.

Ancient tribes in Europe are said to have used a throwing axe; in Egypt a special type of curved stick was used by the Pharaohs for hunting birds. The use of throwing woods is thought to have spread throughout North Africa from Egypt to the Atlantic.

Boomerangs are most commonly associated with Australian Aborigines. They have been made in various  shapes and sizes depending on their geographic origins and intended function. In the past they have been used as hunting weapons, musical instruments, battle clubs, and recreational toys. The most recognizable type is the returning boomerang. Some have "turbulators" (bumps or pits on the top surface) to make the flight more predictable. A returning boomerang is an airfoil and its rapid spin make it fly in a curve rather than a straight line.

Other types of boomerang are of the non-returning sort, and some were not thrown at all but were used in hand to hand combat by Aboriginal people. The throwing wood, however, was mainly used for hunting rather than as a battle weapon.

"A boomerang in Aboriginal art on the main gorge wall at Carnarvon George, Australia"
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ancient Bow and Arrow (c. 20,000 B.C.E)

Distant target come within deadly reach for the first time.

Evidence of the early use of bows and arrows has been found in cave paintings in Western Europe and North Africa. Its development probably arose in the Upper Paleolithic (old stone age) around 20,000 B.C.E., when people realized that the weapon would enable hunters to kill outside their throwing range.
Bows and arrows were portable, easy to make, and the materials to make them were relatively easy to obtain. The bow consisted of a thin flexible shaft of wood; this was bent, and a length of sinew, deer gut, plant fiber, or rawhide was strung tightly between its ends.
Sometimes the bowstring was twisted to make is stronger. Ash, mahogany, and yew were all used for bows. Sometimes the wood was backed with sinew to make the bow stronger and stop it breaking.

The arrow was a thin shaft of wood, sharpened at one end, with feathers attached to the other to give it aerodynamic stability. Arrowheads were made from flint of other rocks, antler, or bone.

The bow was the first machine that stored energy. Energy from the archer's muscles gradually transferred to the bow as it was drawn back; when the bow was released, it gave the projected arrow a far greater velocity than that produced by a spear-thrower. In about 1500 B.C.E., a shorter and lighter bow was developed, the composite bow. Short and curved, it was built up from layers of materials that reacted differently under tension or compression. It was an accurate weapon to use from horseback.

Modern bows are made from fiberglass, carbon, and aluminium as well as wood, while the arrows are usually made of composite materials.
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Ancient Atlatl (c. 23,000 B.C.E.)

Early humans extended spear-throwing range.

When Spaniards first met the Aztecs in around 1500, the explorers were horrified when their armor was easily penetrated by the Aztec throwing darts. The Aztecs achieved this feat with the atlatl, a simple device used by many ancient peoples for long-range hunting, It probably dated from around 23,000 B.C.E.
 The atlatl consists of a throwing board and a dart about 6 feet long. The board, typically about 2 feet long, has a spur at its end, THe dart's rear is cut down the middle so that it fits onto the spur like two fingers around a card.

Gripping a handle at the front end of the throwing board, the atlatl thrower an hurl the dart with considerably more force than he could by hand.
During the thrower's tennis swing-like motion, the flexible dart flexes and energy builds up. The dart is weighted with a stone tip and often another counterweight to azimize the buildup of energy.

When the atlatl dart is released, the spring energy in the flexible  dart is added to the forward force, accelerating the dart to speeds that can exceed 100 miles per hour. The atlatl was so effective at bringing down prey that some scholars speculate it may have played a significant role in the extinction of the North American wooly mammoth. Now, at least 25,000 years after its invention, the atlatl is still used by enthusiastic hobbyists.
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ancient Sewing (c. 25,000 B.C.E)

Clothing is fitted using needle and thread.

The history of sewing is closely allied to the history of tools, The earliest needles ever discovered date from the paleolithic era ( the earliest stone age) around 25,000 B.C.E., key finds from that period include needles in south west France and near Moscow in Russia. These
were made of ivory or bone, with an eyelet gouged out. Some have been found along side the remains of foxes and hares that were used for their fur.

Sewing gave our early ancestors the opportunity to make clothing more closely tailored to the human body, improving its insulation and comfort,
as well as inviting decoration. Early scarps of clothes found in france and switzerland have included decorative seeds or animal teeth sewn on by thread, applied perhaps with the add of fish bones or thorns. Native Americans sewed with the tips of agave leaves.

Metal needles were developed in the bronze age and initially were made of several strands of wire melted together. Needles from this era steel was introduced. The first known stitched buttonholes dates from 4200 B.C.E

Embroidery - complex, decorative needlework - appeared in Bronze Age Egypt and India, In China, silk was being sewn and embroidered in the same era. Protective thimbles have been used since Roman times. The famous Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the Norman invasion of England, is an example of crewelwork, a form of embroidery with loosely twisted yarn. At least four types of stitch have been identified in the tapestry. Later, the mechanization of textile production began in the sixteenth century with the stocking frame, which led automated looms. Hand-stitching was transformed from the 1830s onward by the arrival of the sewing machine.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ancient Sharp Stone Blade (c. 30,000 B.C.E)

Stone Age humans progress to sharpening their tools and weapons.

The use of stone instruments more than two million years ago heralded what we call the Stone Age and the very origins of humankind. While it is impossible to date when distinctly worked (rather than simply found) stone blades first appeared in the world, it seems to have occurred circa 30,000 B.C.E.

The technique that evolved to create sharp stones in now
called lithic reduction, This involves the use of an implement to strike a stone block in order to break off flakes. Such flakes will be naturally sharp and can be turned into a range of useful tools and weapons such as scrapers, scythes, knives, arrow heads, or spear points. Some early toolmarks amy also have used what was left of the stone block to make axe heads.

Various kinds of stones were used to make blades, although one of the most popular was flint - leading to the term "flinktknapper" to describe anyone making stone blades by lithic reduction, As the techniques of flintknapping developed, particularly the use of repetitive blows at a particular angles, the craftsmen were able to gain much greater control over the size, sharpness, and the type of blade.

The period after the end of the last ICE AGE, 10,000 years ago, was characterized by increasingly sophisticated stone tools with multiple uses. Other tools were produced using blades made by knapped flint or obsidian, a type of naturally occuring glass. Small, sharp blades, known as microliths, became part of wooden cutting implements for use in farming, as well as barbs on arrows and spears, making them particularly effective as hunting weapon.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ancient Drills (c. 35,000 B.C.E)

Early humans learn how to bore small holes.

It is thought that early man used a primitive drill - perhaps a modified spear - to pierce wood and animal skins. Much later, the woodworker of ancient Egypt refined this technique by making any necessary holes with a bow drill. Adapted from the fire-stick, it had a cord wrapped round it and was held taut with a bow. Holding the drill vertically, the operator moved the bow backward and forward, pressing downward on alternate turns, with an idle return stroke (There is also evidence of dental drilling from as long ago as 9000 B.C.E., accomplished by the same means.)
The Romans replaced the bow drill with the auger, but the bit frozen between turns. It was not until the Middle Ages that use of the carpenter's brace made continuous rotation fo the drill possible.

The term "drill" may either refer to the machine supplying the rotational energy needed for penetration, or to the "drill bit", which is the part that rotates and actually cuts into the material. Various kinds of drills have evolved to meet specific needs.

Any drill has the capicity to make small holes in wood or brick, but more powerful machines are required to create pipe-sized holes in masonry or metal. Modern drills include a chuck to grip the drill bits or simple attachements. Some drills have chucks that can be unscrewed in order to recieve larger attachments, such as sanding tools, wire brushes, grinding stones, and circular saws.

The tip of a drill bit is conical in shape with cutting edges. The fluted part, or body, of a drill is now usually made of hardened, high-carbon steel. The angle formed by the tapering sides of the point determines how large a chip is taken off with each rotation, The bit also has helical flutes, which affects the drill's cutting and chip-removal properties.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ancient Tally Stick (c. 35.000 B.C.E)

Counting makes its debut in Swaziland.

Tally sticks, or tallies batons of bone, ivory, wood, or stone into which notches are made as a mean of recoding numbers or even messages, The archeological and historical records are rich in tallies, with the Lembombo bone as the earliest example. Found in a cave in the Lembombo Mountains in Swaziland and made form a baboon's fibula, it dated back to 35,000 B.C.E. Its markings suggest that it is a lunar phase counter, indicating an appreciation of math far beyond simple counting.

Tally sticks became the primary accounting tool of medieval Europe, which was largely illiterate. During the 1100s King Henry I of England established the Exchequer to be responsible for the collection and management fo revenues. To keep track of taxds owned and paid, split tally sticks were employed. Usually made of squared hazel wood, notches were made the thickness of the palm of the hand to represent 1000 [pound], the thickness of a thumb for 100 [pound], a little finger for 10[pound], a swollen barley gran for 1[pound], and a thin score mark for a shilling. The notches would span the stick's width, which subsequently would be split so that both halves had the same markings, to avoid forgeries. The halves differed in length; the longer half, or stock, was for the person making the payment, hence "stockholder" and the shorter half, or foil, for the recipient of the money or goods.
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ancient Fishhook (c. 35,000 B.C.E.)

Early humans discover how to retain their caught fish.

The major problem with dating inventions earlier than the written word is that there are no first-hand accounts documenting their conception or use. Paleoarcheologists have the difficult task of piecing together the prehistory of man based on scraps of physical evidence left behind by our ancient ancistors. The fishhook is one such ingenious conception of early man and is probably more importanat to the success of humans than most of us would suspect.

The earliest examples of fishhooks so far found by archeologists date form around 35,000 B.C.E. Appearing well before the advent of metalworking, early fishhooks were faishoned from durable metarials of organic origin such as bones, shells. animal horn, and wood. With the addition of variety of baits on the hook, prehistoric man gained access, previously largely denied, to an easy source of energy loaded with protien and fat. Adding fish to his diet also ensured a healthy intake of essential fatty acids.

Over thousands fo years of the techonology of fishhooks has evovled to optimize prey attraction, retention and retrevai, The very earlier fishhooks of all are thought to hae been made from wood, although, being more perishable than those of bone or shells, very few examples of these primitivie hooks have survived. Wood might seem much too buoyant a material to be ideal for catching fish, but actually wooden hooks were used until the 19960s for catching species such as burbot.

Gaining easy access to adequate food supplies is thought to have been an essential foctor in the success of early man. To fish in fecund waters requires very little energy and time, and this enabled our ancestors to pursue other activities, meaning that they were able , not just to survive, but to prosper.

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Ancient Spear - (c. 400,000 B.C.E)

Humans learn to skill with sharpened poles.

The earliest example fo a sharpened wooden pole, or spear, comes from Schoningen in Germany. There, eight spears where dated to 400,000 B.C.E. The ancient hominid hunters who sharpened each pole used a filnt shaver to cut away the tip to form a pont and then signed the tip in the fire to harden the wood, making it a more effective weapon. A similar technique was used by hunters in Lehringen near Bremen in Germany, where a complete spear was found embedded inside a mammoth skeleton, suggesting such spears were  used mainly for  hunting rhather than warfare or self-defence. The need for food, was so great that a mommoth would be attacked with only a flimsy spear, altthough its use woeld have been more to scare the mammoth in the direction of a trap or pit dug previously than to attack it directly.

Arround 60,000 B.C.E., Neanderthals living in rock shelters and temporary hunting camps in France sharpened small preces of flint and slotted them into the tips of their spears. HUnters in the Sahara used the Sharpened stones in the same way, while CEntral Americans used obsidian, a natural volcanic glass. Around the world, Stone Age people gradually learned how to learn small stones or flints into tiny, sharpened blades known as microliths for use as a spear points. The greatest advance, however, came with the development of metalworking, notably copper in southeast Europe after 5000 B.C.E., followed by bronze, and allory of copper and tin, around 2300 B.C.E., and then iron a millennium later. These new technologies allowed hunters and warriors to make hard, sharp, effective spear points.

"A spear-carrying Hittite warrior in a tenth-century B.C.E. relief form Carchemish on the Turkey-Syria border"
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ancient Clothing - (c. 400,000 B.C.E)

Early humans cover their nakedness.

Around 400,000 years ago, Homo sapiens devised a solution to protect the vulnerable naked human body from the environment - clothes. Anthropologists believe the earliest clothing was made form the fur of hunted animals or leaves creatively wrapped around the body to keep out the cold, wind and rain.

Determining the date of this invention is difficult, although sewing needles made form animal bone dating from about 30,000 B.C.E have been found by arceheologists. However, genetic analysis  of human body lice reveals that they evolved at the same time as clothing. Scientists originally thought the lice evovled 107,000 years ago, but further investigations placed their evolution a few hundred thousand years earlier.

Clothing has changed dramatically over the century, although its ancient role as an outward indication of the status, wealth, and belief of the warrior in as important as ever. During the industrial revolution the textile industry was the first to be mechanised, enabling incerasingly elaborate designs to be made at a faste rate. In the 21st century, mechanization has allowed sophisticated pratical clothing to be deviced to protect us from dangerous such as extreme whether, chemicals, insects, and outer space. Without clothe we would not have able to explore and exploit our world and the surrounding univese to the extent that we have.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ancient Built Shelter - (c. 400,000 B.C.E)

Homo heidbergensis builds the first hut.

The earliest evidence of built shelter appears to have been constructed by "homo heidbergensis", who lived in Europe between around 800,000 B.C.E. Anthropologists are uncertain whether these were ancestors of Homo sapiens (Humans) or Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthals) or both.

At the french site of Terra Amata, which dated back around 400,000 years, archeologists have found what they believe to be the foundations of large oval huts. One of these shows evidence fo fire in a hearth. although other archeologists potulate that natural processes could be responsible. Archeology on sites from hundreds of thousands of years ago is complicated. Claims of the discovery of built shelters in Japan from more than 500,000 years ago were discredited in 2000. In fact, all the evidences for humans in Japan before 35,000 years ago is currently questionable.
We do know that our ancestors spent time in caves for hundreds of thousands of years. But caves are only found in certain areas. Whether they started building 100,000 or 400,000 years ago, their ability to create shelters close to food, water and other resources provided our ancestor with protection anainst the elements and dangerous animals. Living close to work also gave them more time to experiment with different ways of doing thigs; in other words, to to invent.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ancient Controlled Fire - (c. 1,42,000 B.C.E)

Homo erectus harness lightning

Fire is an essential tool, control of which helped tostart the human race on its path to civilization. The original source of fire was probably lightning, and for generation blazes ignited in this manner remained the only source of fire.
Initially Peking man, who lived around 500,000 B.C.E, was believed to be earliest user of fire, but evidence uncovered in Kenya in 1981, and in South Africa in 1988, suggests that the earliest controlled use of fire by hominids dates from about 1,420,000 years ago. Fire were kept alive permanently because of the difficulty of reigniting them, being allowed to burn by day and damped soen at night, Flint struck against pyrites or friction methods were the most widespread methods of producing fire among primitive people.

The first human beings to control fire used it to keep warm, cook their food, and ward off predators. It also enabled them to survive in regions previously too cold for man habitation. They also used it in "fire drives" to force animals or enemies out of hiding. Controlled fire was important in clearing forest for roadways, grasslands and grazing, and agricultural lands - uncontrolled, the fire destroyed the potential of the soil. Mastering fire also opened up the possibilities of smelting metals, enabling humankind to escape the limitations of the Stone Age.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Ancient Stone Tools - (c. 2,600,000 B.C.E)

Every humankind ushers in the age of inventions.

The very first human invention consisted of sharp flints, found and used in their natural state by primitive peoples, who then went on to purposely sharpen stones. The practice reaches back to the very dawn of humankind; stone tools found in 1969 in kenya are estimated to be 2,600,000 years old.
The principal types of tools, which appeared in the Paleolithic period, and varied in size and apperance , are known as core, flake, and blade tools.
The core tools are the largest and most primitive, and were made by working on a fist-sized piece of rockor stone with a similar rock and knocking large flakes off one side to produce a sharp crest, This was a general-purpose implement used fo hacking, pounding, or cutting , Eventually, thinner and sharper core tools were developed, which were more useful. Much later, especially during the last 10,000 years of the stone age , other techniques of producing stone artifacts-including pecking, grinding, sawing, and boring - come into play.

The evolution of tool making enabled early humankind to complete many tasks previously impossible or accomplished only very crudely, Animals could be skinned, defleshed, and the meat divided up with stone cutters, cleavers, and choopers. Clothing was made from animal hides cleaned with rough stones scrapers and later punctured with awls. Hunting became more efficient with spreadheads fashioned from stone flakes, And with the aid of stone adzes (axes), early humankind could create shelter and begin to shape the physical world to its liking,

Stone age humans became adept at chipping flakes of hard, volcanic rocks to make tools and weapons.

"The best materials...include absidian (a form of natural glass) chert, flint, and chalcedony".
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