Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Technology from 2 million years ago

I have this amazing thing in my possession - a stone tool. I picked it up amidst the huge earth-moving excavations which were being done, just outside of what is now called the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site - which is the project I used to work on.
A scientist told me that it was probably a "core" from which flakes were chipped off. Because of the excavations, it was completely displaced from whereever it would have originally been, and therefore not of worth much from a scientific point of view.
When I hold it in my hand, it fits extraordinarily snugly. And I can imagine, just dimly, that creature before me, working on it some 2 million years ago, which held it in the had as well. It is an extraordinary feeling, this link between me typing on a computer and that creature (probably Homo Habilis, a distant ancestor of modern humans) known now as "the tool-maker").
Because there is a direct link between that ancient Oldowan technology of tool-making and the personal computer, strange as it may be. The link is those elements of consciousness and ingenuity which makes us today what we are, and made them what they were.
(The truth is, it shouldn't be in my possession at all. It should either be in the ground, or in some box in Wits University. Well, it isn't.)

No comments:

Post a Comment