Stone Sickle Blades

Stone Sickle Blades
Age: 
About 4,650 - 4,150 years old (Egypt) and about 8,600 - 8,000 years old (Iran)
Site: 
Dynastic Egypt and Ali Kosh, Iran

Plant and Animal Domestication

Technologies enabling plant and animal domestication, as seen in by these stone sickle blades from Dynastic Egypt and Ali Kosh, Iran, represent a turning point of human interaction with the environment.

Image of stone blades and a sickle.
-4150
-8600

Assyrian Cylinder Seal

Assyrian Cylinder Seal
Age: 
About 4,100 - 3,600 years old
Site: 
Babylon, Iraq

Using symbols to represent words and concepts

By around 8,000 years ago, humans were using symbols to represent words and concepts.  As seen in this Assyrian lapis lazuli cylinder seal from Bablyon, Iraq, cylinder seals were rolled across wet clay tablet to produce raised designs. True forms of writing developed over the next few thousand years.

Assyrian Lapis Lazuli Cylinder Seal and Clay Impression
-3600
-4100

Oldest Wooden Spear

Oldest Wooden Spear
Date of discovery: 
1995
Discovered by: 
Hartmut Thieme
Age: 
About 400,000 years old
Site: 
Schöningen, Germany

Making Wooden Spears

Hunting large animals was a risky business. Long spears  were thrust into an animal, enabling our ancestors to hunt from a somewhat safer distance than was possible with earlier weapons. Three wooden spears like this one were found at Schöningen, Germany, along with stone tools and the butchered remains of more than 10 horses. These spears are currently the oldest known wooden artifacts in the world.

Schoningen Spear
-400000
-400000

Lion-Man Figurine

Lion-Man Figurine
Age: 
About 35,000 years old
Site: 
Hohlenstein-Stadel Cave, Germany

Creating Paintings and Figurines

Carved from mammoth ivory, this figurine combines human traits with the features of an animal, probably a cat. Although nicknamed “The Lion-Man,” some researchers think it represents a female. This motif, found on other objects from this part of Europe, may have had special meaning for humans living there.

Lion-man Figure
-4000000

Oldest Pottery

Oldest Pottery
Age: 
About 12,000 years old
Site: 
Lake Anenuma, Honshu, Japan

 Making Baskets and Pottery

Early humans may have made bags from skin long ago. By around 26,000 years ago, they were weaving plant fibers to make cords and perhaps baskets. Some of the oldest known pottery from Japan’s Jomon culture, seen here, is about 18,000 years old.

Jomon Pot
-12000
-12000

Dating

Here of some of the well-tested methods of dating used in the study of early humans:

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Members

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Team Members

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Recording Information

A close-up look at the second two objects here shows that in all three the markings are clearly organized. This systematic pattern suggests to some researchers that the markings represent information or counting rather than decoration.

From simple beginnings like these came our ability to store enormous amounts of information.

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Primate Behavior

Humans are part of the biological group known as primates. We sure are an unusual species of primate, though!

Primates include lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, monkeys, and apes – a group of species that is well known for being social, smart, and very adept at using their hands. They are also very vocal and communicative with the members of their social group. And they move around in a wide variety of ways, including sometimes on two legs.

Remind you of anyone?

We invite you to enjoy the most unusual primate of all!

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