The latest edition of Archaeocast, the archaeology podcast from Wessex Archaeology, features Phil Harding, an archaeologist famous for his role on Channel 4’s “Time Team” TV archaeology programme. Phil is an archaeologist for Wessex Archaeology in Salisbury when he’s not filming for Time Team.
With a growing presence of computer use in archaeology, Phil agreed to explain to the masses the importance of technology in prehistory. The people of the ‘stone age’ (circa 500,000BC to 2400BC) have often been depicted as primitives, dwelling in caves, pulling their women-folk about by the hair etc – the usual stereotypes pushed by the press over the last couple of centuries. The reality is that we will seem like a primitive people in half a million years – it’s all relative.
Phil makes the point (‘scuse the pun) that if you look at closely at stone tool technology, and if you begin to make them yourself, you can start to see how advanced it became. The complexities and subtleties of stone tools are incredible, let alone the knowledge of how to find and select your raw materials. Some of those tools were made by “grand prix” flint knappers, making tiny flakes of razor sharp flint to tip wooden arrows with. Polished stone axes would have had to have been made with extreme care, and could be highly effective as well as beautiful to look at. They evolved into objects that weren’t just functional “problem solving” objects – they could have been seen as desirable objects in their own right (gadgets, anyone?).
Have a listen to the podcast and have a glimpse into the past…