Skip to comments.Humans were already recycling 13,000 years ago
Posted on 09/22/2012 10:41:53 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
A study at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili and the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) reveals that humans from the Upper Palaeolithic Age recycled their stone artefacts to be put to other uses. The study is based on burnt artefacts found in the Molí del Salt site in Tarragona, Spain.
The recycling of stone tools during Prehistoric times has hardly been dealt with due to the difficulties in verifying such practices in archaeological records. Nonetheless, it is possible to find some evidence, as demonstrated in a study published in the 'Journal of Archaeological Science'.
"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 archaeologists found a high percentage of burnt remains in the Molí del Salt site (Tarragona), which date back to the end of the Upper Palaeolithic Age some 13,000 years ago. The expert ensures that "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."
The results indicate that the recycling of tools was normal during the Upper Palaeolithic Age. However, this practice is not documented in the same way as other types of artefacts. The use of recycled tools was more common for domestic activities and seems to be associated with immediate needs.
(Excerpt) Read more at eurekalert.org ...
It is only recently that our societal norm has become “thow-a-way”.
I think the concept is simply called “being frugal.”
I’d like to know how they came up with the 13,000 year “guess”.
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Because they know how to date things.
Stone wears like ir-, uh, never mind. ;’)
When they find the ruins of our civilization, they’ll remark on how well things seemed to be going before the inexplicable switch to absurd, inefficient fuel sources and the inexplainable use of giant batteries that have left behind pools of highly toxic waste.
So why don't we use stones?
When you live life at a subsistence level you cannot afford to throw anything away. It’s a sign of our superior civilization that we don’t have to recycle.
“recycled their stone artefacts to be put to other uses”
recycled, my ass. They simply found another use. What a lamebrain article. Under this reasoning, recycling was going on for millions of years by one animal choosing to eat another, and recycling it into turds.
The expert ensures that “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.
Since they show no pictures of the artefacts in question I have no way of knowing but it was very common for ancient man to heat treat various flints. Sometimes working a piece into a crude biface to get the thickness down or heating thinner spalls. I’ve been flint knapping for over 40 years and use the same process, my favorite method is a turkey roaster with the pan taken out and filled with sand and the pieces I want to heat. I used to use the same method they did and thats to just dig a shallow hole and lay your pieces in the bottom then cover with about an inch of dirt, then build a fire on top. 400 to 450 degree’s works with most flints, jasper and novaculite need to be taken above 600 degree’s to get the desired results.
It's a matter of economics.
I can't be bothered to recycle newspaper and glass bottles. The time and fuss aren't worth it to me and it costs more to recycle them than to throw them away and make new ones. That high cost is an indication that labor and resources are being diverted from their best uses.
I do recycle where it makes financial sense. For example, I have in my house thousands of dollars worth of sophisticated machinery in which I recycle pots, pans, clothing, towels, and silverware. It's all about economics, not laziness.
Nice work. Around here it is all obsidian, no flint. I’ve tried my hand at working obsidian and made some very crude tools, but they were still razor sharp. One day we had an elk hung up on the hoist and my son wanted to try obsidian on it. There were several nodules that I had found, so I split one with a rock, then flaked off another piece and ended up with a wedge about 3” across. It cut that elk hide and helped skin it off as good or better than any knife.
I have found many obsidian tools that are not finished to a high degree, but if you handle them a bit, you will suddenly discover your fingers fitting them and a cutting edge will be in the perfect place to do some work.
I can just see the multiculturalism environmentalist reading your post now.
His head would blow up
Most recycling is feel-good crap. We aren't running out of landfill space and a lot of money is being diverted to this feel-good exercise that would be better spent on the production of goods and services people actually want.
And the next time I hear someone say, "Save a tree!" I'm gonna deck him. TREES GROW BACK!
I must respectfully disagree with you both.
This really doesn’t have anything to do economics or a superior culture. It has to do with wastefulness. I am guilty myself.
As recently as the 1960’s things were not as disposable as they are now. Consequently, things that could be used were kept. Just a small example...coke bottles were turned in for a couple of pennies. Of course one can sell coke cans for scrap, but I wonder how many people do.
I’m not an environmentalist or greenie by any stretch of the imagination. I just consider our current culture to be enormously wasteful. My grandmother would have a fit at the everyday items I throw in the trash. But she lived thru the Great Depression as well as WWII. We have never been forced to conserve to any degree.
The wastefulness is in the uneconomic recycling.
You mention a 2 cent bottle deposit -- that would be a dime these days after inflation -- yet deposits are only a nickel now where they do exist. As I pointed out in my original comment, people are not wasteful when it will cost them more than they wish to pay.
Which is why governments levy huge fines on recycling scofflaws. They know they must step in where the markets don't show a need for it.
It's no different now than then. Stop beating yourself up over it.
They say a new car, if parted out, would be 3X the retail price of the whole car. Why is that?
First, let me apologize if I sounded in any way like I was beating myself up. It certainly was not my intent.
We are approaching this subject from two different perspectives. You seem to be more concerned with government intervention on recycling. A valid point.
However, I believe in one of your posts you stated that there is no shortage of landfill. Perhaps not in your area. But there is most definetley a shortage in most of this country. If you think for one minute that disposable diapers and plastic trash bags degrade, you might want to rethink that position. Or glass or aluminum which used to be recycled in earlier days.
My approach concerns general wastefulness. My point is also valid. I live in a rural area. Until about the last ten years we had no trash removal. We burned our trash in barrels, pretty archaic, lol. Of course you could load anything in that barrel, but a lot of things wouldn’t burn. So one had to load those barrels full of rain-soaked, unburned muck up and take it to the dump. Then the dump closed. Before all of that happened I had started voluntary recycling. I have continued to do so.
If you live in the city, you may not deal with these things on a personal level. But before you take your trash out next time..look at what you are thowing away. Could it be reused by someone? What will decompose in the abundant landfills that you imagine we have?
But that "shortage" is caused by man-made regulations -- not by any lack of open space to put them in. Only some 5% of the American continent is built on. We are not running out of land.
I live in a rural area, too. I'm very familiar with burning the family trash in an old metal barrel and eventually having to dispose of the residue somewhere. In my childhood it was a wooded ravine several hundred yards from the farmhouse. A ravine littered with old washing machines and refrigerators.
I'm not advocating we return to that. It was ugly and wasteful [old refrigerators and washing machines are worth good money!] :)
I was addressing the general hysteria over recycling. It just is not sensible to recycle everything. Egg shells? Coffee grounds? C'mon.
Now, I certainly don't criticize you at all for your actions -- I just do not want some do-gooder politician trying to impose his personal preferences on me. I will recycle when it makes economic sense for me and when it's obvious that throwing something away is a true hazard to health.
It was all explained 200 years ago by Adam Smith.
WTH does it have to do with recycling in the Upper Paleolithic?
It ain’t wrong, they reused tools which were no longer useful for their first use.
Ran out of ‘em.
We might not be too far away from each others views.
I guess if recyling were an enforced event, instead of voluntary, I might feel differently.
Thanks for the very civil conversation. :)
(Actually egg shells and coffee grounds make great fertilizer. But somehow, I think you may know that. ;))
What you've just written above summarizes the grand success of our society - we've lowered the cost and not just the cost to manufacture something, but the environmental cost too, so much so that we don't have to ration or hoard anything.
Did you have air conditioning, a cell phone, or a microwave back in the 60's? These luxuries are now so affordable that the poor can have them too. You can make a personal decision to use your time/money resources to not let your personal trash enter the waste stream, but you're not saving or conserving anything in a financial or economic sense. We recycle things of value. It isn't worth recycling everything. We recycle used computers and get the metal out. The rest is burned off. It isn't worth it.
There was a time when you couldn't buy disposable rubber gloves. They were just too expensive. Now an average household can get them nearly anywhere. Think what that means to human health and disease transfer prevention. Would we be better off without disposable rubber gloves?
I have tried a time or two to knap flint, but did not know about the heat treating. What does that entail, or do you have a source I can learn more from?
I agree. I have tools and other items which were built to last. Even vehicles from the '40s are incredibly durable, if not rife with creature comforts. We make things now to fail, to be thrown away, to sell someone a new, improved version. Most are difficult or impossible to repair.
If that’s true then my sincerest hope is you share it among his ilk and broadly!
Cash for clunkers eliminated a lot of viable parts vehicles (not to mention fully functional vehicles) from the marketplace. A salvage yard operator I know of went out of business waiting for the government to pay him for vehicles which he could not legally remove a bolt from which were taking up space he could have used for inventory.
And you've explained perfectly what I've been trying to express. We were once less "wasteful" because everything was more expensive as a percentage of income. It was economically foolish to throw such expensive items away.
And there is also the fact that improved packaging [which many complain is also wasteful] prevents food from spoiling and therefore wasted, itself.
Recycling has become an emotional issue. The economic rationale is ignored.