By Natural Philosopher Mike Prestwood
Timeline Story

Early Wood tools

Early Wood tools

From Year 0 (BCE/CE): -3400000
Post Date: 05/06/2024

Simple wood tools starting with picking up a stick to poke at some out of reach fruit likely paralleled the use of stone tools. Wood tools for the most part did not survive the test of time. The earliest so far include advanced javelins form 400,000 years ago and a digging tool from 780,000 years ago.

Possible, but speculative, progression of wood tools:
By 3.4 mya: hand stick used for poking and defense. A hand stick could be used for poking to gather edible plants, digging small holes, or as a simple defensive tool against predators or rival groups as well as for hunting smaller prey. Chimpanzees today sharpen sticks and kill bushbabies so it’s reasonable to speculate that hominins have been doing similar things going back to at least 3.4 million years ago.

By 3.3 mya: walking stick used for protection and hunting. As early hominins began to traverse more varied terrains, the use of walking sticks could have emerged. These sticks, possibly sharpened at one end, could serve dual purposes: aiding in mobility over rough landscapes and as a rudimentary weapon for hunting small animals or defense.

By 2.6 mya: small sharpened sticks for detailed work. Coinciding with the development of Oldowan stone tools, which included flakes and cores, early humans could have crafted small, sharpened wooden sticks. These sticks would be useful for tasks requiring more precision, such as extracting termites from mounds, piercing to create simple garments from hides, or intricate food preparation like skewering.

By 1.76 mya: Spears and Digging Sticks: With the advent of Acheulean hand axes, there might have been the concurrent use of wooden spears, either fire-hardened or using stone tools to sharpen the tips. These would be essential for hunting larger animals at a distance. Similarly, robust digging sticks could be used for accessing water sources, tubers, or creating simple traps.

By 500,000 ya: Complex Wooden Constructs: By the time Middle Paleolithic tool cultures emerged, there could be more complex wooden constructions such as frames for shelters, more sophisticated spears, and possibly even simple rafts or paddles for navigating waters. The use of fire to harden and treat wood could enhance the durability and effectiveness of these tools.

By 300,000 ya: Hafted Tools and Advanced Spears: The use of adhesives and bindings to attach stone points to wooden shafts likely emerged, producing more effective hafted tools. This period may also see the refinement of spear technology, with better aerodynamics and durability for more effective hunting strategies.

By 200,000 ya: Ritual or Symbolic Wooden Structures: The potential for wooden objects to play a role in ritual or communal activities, such as totem poles or communal meeting structures, reflecting more complex social behaviors and spiritual beliefs.


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May 26, 2024 Edition
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