Woodworking

Archaeologists have studied a large number of pieces of wood found at a site named Schöningen13 in Germany.  Many of the wooden objects show signs of being deliberately split and shaped into wooden tools. There were no human bones at the site, but as the site is dated at 300,000 years it is claimed the artefacts were made by Neanderthals or maybe Homo heidelbergensis

The research team summarised their find by stating: “Wooden tools include at least 10 spears and seven throwing sticks used in hunting next to 35 newly recognized pointed and rounded split woods likely used in domestic activities.”  The non-hunting artefacts include pointed wooden tools that could have been used for piercing and working hides or plant material, digging sticks, and shafts that could have been attached to stone blades or axes.

These sophisticated tools indicate careful planning and skill was needed to produce them. They were made from a number of different timbers – spruce, larch, and pine, which vary in strength and elasticity, and working the wood would have involved a number of carefully planned steps to get the right structure for the purpose.  Making a spear involves stripping bark, cleaning of branches, sharpening and hardening with heat, whilst making use of the orientation of wood grain so the point is made from the hard dense wood closest to the base of the tree.

The domestic tools are also an indicator of intelligence and skill.  Lawrence Barham, an archaeologist at the University of Liverpool who was not part of the research team, commented: “The non-hunting tools add to our understanding of the diversity of Neanderthal behaviour … and help us relate to them: They had to live, and make clothes.” 

The researchers also suggest our understanding of hunter-gatherer technology needs to be revised. Artefacts made from wood or other organic materials such as bone were probably more common that stone implements, but wood is not as well preserved as stone objects.  Dirk Leder, one of the researchers at the Schöningen site commented: “The whole idea of a Stone Age might be wrong.  Maybe we should be talking about a Wood Age.”

References: Science (AAAS) News 1 April 2024; PNAS 1 April 2024 doi: 10.1073/pnas.2320484121

Editorial Comment:  There is an old joke: What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back? A stick.  However, as this study of preserved wooden artefacts shows, throwing sticks require knowledge and skill to make them, and a well-made properly balanced throwing stick is an effective tool for hunting birds and small game animals.

Dirk Leder’s comment about the Stone Age and the Wood Age is a good one, although the whole idea of using technology to define human history needs to be modified.  After all, there are hunter-gatherers living on earth today who use stone and wooden tools, at the same time other societies are using computers and sending rockets to the moon. So what age are we living in – the stone/wood age or the space age?

The concept of a stone age, where the whole human race developed stone tools is an evolutionary belief, based on the idea that stone tools are simple and could be made and used by creatures that are still evolving from apes.  However, stone tools require careful planning and skill to make, just as much as the wooden tools described above, and are clearly the product of intelligent human beings.

The type of technology being used in any place at any time is much better explained by Biblical history. Adam’s sons invented metal and musical technology from scratch. Noah’s family had highly sophisticated design and building skills, which they used to build and fit out the ark.  After the Flood Noah’s descendants multiplied and remained together until they started building the Tower of Babel.  God him self affirms their technical abilities when He declared “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” (Genesis 11:6)

When the people were then divided by the Lord into small groups who moved away from one another they would have used whatever knowledge and skill they had to make a living using whatever resources they found in their new place of living.  Wood and stones were freely available so people used these.  Sophisticated stone and wooden tools are a reminder that the history of human civilisation is from skyscrapers to Stone Age, and those of us who live in a civilisation that has gone back to skyscrapers should remember why the people at the original skyscraper were judged. Technology will not save us. Only Jesus can do that.

Creation Research News 16 April 2024

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