Trillions of Stone Age Artifacts: A Young Earth Anthropology Paradox

If there really were lots of people, not just Noah’s family, and they really were spread out over Africa, and if they really were making tools from some 2.6 million years before present, and if they were profligate throwaways when it came to flint flakes, then a little arithmetic shows that there ought to be trillions (yes, millions of millions) of discarded tool bits all over Africa. And there are.

Earlier, I blogged about time as interval at Siccar Point, and time as process where the lavas of the Giants Causeway were weathered between outflows. Now (see below, reblogged from Naturalis Historia) I can add time as the accumulation of junk. Time shallow by geological standards, but very deep indeed compared with all of human history, or with the imaginings of the author(s) of Genesis. And I don’t think even Ken Ham can talk his way out of this one.

And this week sees the resolution of another paradox: the oldest tools known date to some 2.6 million years before present (Mybp), but the oldest clearly hominin remains were at 2.4 Mybp. So do we have to infer that australopithecines made tools? Not necessarily, since (see here, and references therein) we now have a decidedly hominin-looking jaw at 2.8 Mybp.

There may be other implications for our ancestry. Jaw bones are the best preserved of all skeletal remains, but on their own they tell us little about what most interests us – the size of the brain case. However, where one fragment was found there may be others, and we can only await further developments.

Naturalis Historia

Trillions of stone artifacts cover the surface of the African continent. The product of the manufacturing of stone tools by hunters and gathers over long periods of time, these stone artifacts literally carpet the ground in some places in Egypt and Libya.

Just how much Stone-Age produced rock is strewn across the African continent?

Imagine a volume of rock equivalent to 42-84 million Great Pyramids of Giza.

The “million” isn’t a typo. That number sounds absolutely fantastic, doesn’t it?  Let’s take a look at how these numbers were derived.

The results of a study just published (see references below) shows how incredibly dense stone artifacts can be in some places in Africa.   Working in a remote location in southern Libya, researchers took surveys from hundreds of one or two-meter square plots. From the tens of thousands of artifacts found in them, they estimated a minimum density of 250,000 stone artifacts…

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About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on March 14, 2015, in Creationism, Humans and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. There’s one of these in western Queensland on a sheep station owned by the father of a girl I used to date. It is astonishing. The family simply calls it “The Factory.” I have one of the stones here in Brazil with me, almost identical to the last stone in the posts photos. I spent time wondering over it, it goes for at least a kilometer as far as I could see, unending, every square meter peppered with the worked rocks. I’m not even sure anyone has ever told anthropologists about it. The father also has what he calls a “talking stick.” He found that on the property, too… about the size of a cucumber and edged with lines, which is really strange because aborigines had no written language.

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    • You might suggest to that family (assuming you remained on friendly terms) that an archaeologist would find the site interesting.

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      • The last I heard the property (the size of Belgium almost) was up for sale. The father had contracted Alzheimer’s and was moving to Brisbane for care. That was ten years ago now.

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      • Sad.

        But I think you should, indeed, check out the archaeology department of the nearest major Australian university to the site, and draw someone;s attention to this. If you really are talking about palaeolithic tools, that would have profound implications for the dispersal of early hominins. In any case,it would be interesting; modern humans are thought to have arrived in Australia between 70,000 and 40,000 years ago

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      • Done. Just sent a Dr Young from QLD Uni an email. Let’s wait and see if they know of it.

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      • Excellent. Please keep me posted, either here or by personal email.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Monday Atheism, Free Thought and Superstition Report (03/16) | Evangelically Atheist

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