3.01.2009

huge cache of ancient tools found in colorado backyard

I love this stuff.
Researchers into the ancient human past are used to wandering the world in search of artifacts. But scientists at the University of Colorado said Wednesday that a major cache of Stone Age tools, believed to be 13,000 years old, had been found in a suburban backyard just six blocks from the campus in Boulder.

"I'm used to going hell and gone across the landscape to look," said Douglas Bamforth, a professor of anthropology who analyzed the cache. "This time I walked."

The 83 stone-cutting implements, some with enough blood residue on them to identify the animals they had been used to butcher, are believed to have belonged to a nomadic people who probably buried the tools for later retrieval, but never returned, Professor Bamforth said.

He added that the trove was one of only a handful of major tool caches ever found of that age in North America, and the first to identify protein residue from a now-extinct camel that the hunters had perhaps eaten before hiding their equipment and moving.

The homeowner, Patrick J. Mahaffy, said landscapers were digging out a space to build a fish pond last May when their shovels struck stone, unearthing the space where the tools had been buried. Reporting of the find was delayed until Wednesday to complete analysis, university officials said.

Mr. Mahaffy said that his area of Boulder, northwest of Denver, has been developed for decades — the house itself was built in 1969 — but that somehow that part of the yard had never been dug out.

He said he was struck by the beauty of the tools and also how well designed they seemed to be.

"They're ergonomically perfect," Mr. Mahaffy said. "They fit perfectly in your palm, and your fingers curl over just where they should."

It's exciting to think of our ancient ancestors using these tools. Now their beautiful technology becomes a letter across time, from them to us.

Update. Thanks to commenter Toe for pointing me to this link that has a nice photo.

10 comments:

Toe said...

I love this stuff too! 13,000 years, wOOt! A camel?

L-girl said...

I know! A now-extinct camel.

I am endlessly fascinated by the ancient world. It's a constant theme of our travel.

I guess I should really have a category "prehistory" but I lump it all under history.

Toe said...

Yes you should create one if your going to add to it. And a nice map please, of what Colorado may have looked like then. There's a pic at Christian Science Monitor.
http://features.csmonitor.com/discoveries/2009/02/26/what-a-find-stone-age-tools-in-a-boulder-backyard/

L-girl said...

I was kidding. I have dozens of posts about ancient civilizations - ruins I've visited, a children's book series I wrote, books I've read. I'm not going to make a new category, it's all in there somewhere.

Thanks for the link, I saw that piece too.

John F said...

Those tools look far too sophisticated to have been made by our primitive ancestors. I suspect the involvement of ancient astronauts. ;-)

L-girl said...

aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!

:)

Jere said...

I found a plate buried in my backyard. I think it's from, like, 1982 AD.

The fact that we have mezuzahs on our doors has led us to believe this plate was buried on purpose.

L-girl said...

Is there a Jewish plate-burying tradition? Maybe someone more Jewish than I could tell us.

When we moved into our first place in Canada, we found little glass pharmacy bottles dated... 1920-ish I think. I posted about it at the time. I'll look it up.

Jere said...

I learned from Curb Your Enthusiasm that you have to bury the milk plate if meat touches it. (I learn all my religion from pop culture.)

dogsled_stacie said...

Very cool stuff!!! Camels (and horses) evolved in North America, this was their original stomping grounds. :)

The camels especially are the most underrated ice age animals!