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Ancient toolkit shows prehistoric hunter-gatherers were well equipped to battle prey

thecheers.org    2007-12-31 08:24:03    

Washington, Dec 31 : Archaeologists have discovered a 14,000 year old bag of tools near the wall of a roundhouse residence in a site called Wadi Hammeh 27 in Jordan, which provides a glimpse into the daily life of a prehistoric hunter-gatherer.
Archaeologists have discovered a 14,000 year old bag of tools near the wall of a roundhouse residence in a site called Wadi Hammeh 27 in Jordan, which provides a glimpse into the daily life of a prehistoric hunter-gatherer.

According to a report in Discovery News, the contents of this ancient toolkit show that its owner, belonging to the Natufian culture, was well equipped to hunt for meat and edible plants in the wild.

"There was a sickle for harvesting wild wheat or barley, a cluster of flint spearheads, a flint core for making more spearheads, some smooth stones (maybe slingshots), a large stone (maybe for striking flint pieces off the flint core), a cluster of gazelle toe bones which were used to make beads, and part of a second bone tool," said Phillip Edwards, a senior lecturer in the Archaeology Program at Melbourne's La Trobe University.

The sickle, constructed out of two carefully grooved horn pieces, was fitted with color-matched tan and gray bladelets.

The rest of the items were designed to immobilize and then kill game such as aurochs, red deer, hares, storks, partridges, owls, tortoises and the major source of meat -gazelles.

"A lone hunter or a group of hunters might wait for gazelles to cross their path while waiting behind a low 'hide' made of twigs and brush," explained Edwards.

"They might have worked on making bone beads to wile away the time. Then a hunter could get off a shot while the animals were off their guard. A first shot might wound, but not kill, and then a hunter or a group of them will track the wounded animal," he added.

Archaeologists believe that these tools were enclosed in a hide or wickerwork bag with a strap that would have been worn over the shoulder. Because such bags rarely had compartments, the owner probably protected valuable items by wrapping them in rolls of bark or leather before placing them at the bottom of the bag.

"The clustering of these items is due to a decision made by some Natufian individual," said Francois Valla, director of the French Research Center in Jerusalem and a noted archaeologist. "As such, it is a rare testimony of the behavior of a person 14,000 years ago," he added.

But, the bag's owner wasn't necessarily a man because women are thought to have been in charge of plant gathering.

"The tools, therefore, either belonged to a woman hunter-gatherer, or work activities were more gender-blind than thought during prehistoric times," Edwards told Discovery News.

The toolkit's showpiece item, its double-bladed sickle, is now on display in the museum of the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology at Jordan's Yarmouk University. (ANI)
© 2007 ANI

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