Humans Were Recycling 13,000 Years Ago
The concept of reuse and recycle is not a modern civilization's monopolistic invention. It was a way of life thousands of years ago. A study based on the artefacts found in the Moli del Salt in Tarragona, Spain claims that humans from the upper Palaeolithic Age recycled their stoner artefacts to put to other uses.
This study was conducted at the University Rovira i Virgili and the Catalan Institute of Human Paleocology and social evolution (IPHES).
Till date, there was no study done on the recycled stone tools during the Prehistoric times due to the difficulties in verifying such practises.
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But this team has found some evidence of recycling. "In order to identify the recycling, it is necessary to differentiate the two stages of the manipulation sequence of an object: the moment before it is altered and the moment after. The two are separated by an interval in which the artefact has undergone some form of alteration. This is the first time a systematic study of this type has been performed," as explained to SINC by Manuel Vaquero, researcher at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili.
The burnt remains that the researchers got hold of date back to to the end of the Upper Palaeolithic Age some 13,000 years ago.
The experts say, "We chose these burnt artefacts because they can tell us in a very simple way whether they have been modified after being exposed to fire."
Their findings indicate that the concept of recycling tools was not new during the Upper Palaeolithic Age, and was most often used for domestic activities and was used for immediate needs. The researchers link recycling to expedited behavior which means simply shaped and quickly available tools as and when the need arises.
"This indicates that a large part of these tools were not conceived from the outset as double artefacts but a single tool was made first and a second was added later when the artefact was recycled," outlines the researcher. The history of the artefacts and the sequence of changes that they have undergone over time are fundamental in understanding their final morphology.
According to Vaquero, "in terms of the objects, this is mostly important from a cultural value point of view, especially in periods like the Upper Palaeolithic Age, in which it is thought that the sharper the object the sharper the mind."
"It bears economic importance too, since it would have increased the availability of lithic resources, especially during times of scarcity. In addition, it is a relevant factor for interpreting sites because they become not just places to live but also places of resource provision," states the researcher.
Vaquero and the team believe that this practice needs to be borne in mind when analysing the site. "Those populating these areas could have moved objects from where they were originally located. They even could have dug up or removed sediments in search of tools," highlights the researcher.
The study was published in the 'Journal of Archaeological Science'.