Interesting anthropology

Sometimes you just come across several interesting articles about what people were doing thousands of years ago –

* 400-600 A.D. & 3150 B.C- Egyptians using medicinal herbs in wine

* 30,000 years ago- using flax fibers to make cords in western Asia & related garments depicted on “Venus” figurines

* 35,000 to 40,000 years ago- bone and ivory flutes found in Germany- currently the oldest musical instruments found!

* 72,000 years ago- using heat to treat stones prior to tool manufacture in southern Africa

* 75,000 to 100,000 years ago- the creation of meaningful designs on red ochre in southern Africa

Two ancient Egyptian wine jars, one from circa 3150 B.C. and another from between the fourth and sixth centuries A.D, were studied for their past contents. The chemical analyses of these ancient wine jars suggest that Egyptians mixed herbs into wine to create medicinal remedies, researchers report.

Herbs and sweet wine, ScienceNews, April 13, 2009


A Georgian cave has yielded what scientists say are the earliest examples of humans making cords. The microscopic flax fibers are around 30,000 years old, and had been dyed different colors including black, gray, turquoise and, in one case, pink. A team reports in the journal Science that ancient humans probably used the plant fibers to carry tools, weave baskets or make garments. The fibers were discovered preserved within layers of mud in Dzudzuana Cave in Georgia (western Asia).

Most ancient coloured twine found, BBC News, Sept. 10, 2009

Stone Age twining unraveled, Science News, Sept. 10, 2009


And a related long article on “Venus” figurines, their garments, and the important role played by textiles in stone age cultures. The iconography also associates these technologies with women as well as with power, prestige, and value.

The “Venus” Figurines, Textiles, Basketry, Gender, and Status in the Upper Paleolithic, Current Anthropology, August–October 2000


Researchers working at two Stone Age German sites have unearthed a nearly complete flute made from a vulture’s forearm as well as sections of three mammoth-ivory flutes. These 35,000- to 40,000-year-old finds are the oldest known musical instruments in the world.

Stone Age flutes found in Germany, ScienceNews, July 18, 2009


People living on the southern tip of Africa 72,000 years ago decided on their own to heat stones with carefully controlled fires in order to make the rock more suitable for tool manufacturing, a new study finds.

Fire engineers of the Stone Age, ScienceNews, Sept. 12, 2009


Scientists excavating Blombos Cave on South Africa’s southern coast have discovered engraved red ochre. This seems to indicate that a cultural tradition of creating meaningful geometric designs stretched from around 100,000 to 75,000 years ago in southern Africa.

Engraved pigments point to ancient symbolic tradition, ScienceNews,  June 12, 2009