Great growth in the use of quartz tools shows the sophistication of ancient communities



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Quartz crystal

Credit: CC 0 Public domain

A growth in the use of crystal quartz to create tools thousands of years ago shows the sophistication of ancient churches, according to new research.


The mineral was chosen because of its strong symbolism, although it was involved in painstaking work and other materials that are easier to use, are available to assist prehistoric tools, archaeologists.

Archaeologists have found a sudden spike in the number of tiny hand-made tools less than 1 cm in size made of crystal quartz in South Africa around 14,000 years ago.

The men may have used Chert, which is more durable and found locally, but they may have chosen crystal quartz because it has some unique properties included as a source of light when struck and as a source of sharp cutting edges. Communities have been accused of crystal quartz because they have seen material as "alive" and believed that they were able to harness the power of the mineral to see in the future.

The technique of constructing tiny crystal quartz tools would have taken specific mastery of skill. Crystal quartz is also used in other parts of the world for tools at this time, when other raw materials are available. Crystal quartz is brittle and can fracture, but it can provide a sharp and precise cutting edge.

Archaeologists examined two sites, in Sehonghong and Ntlana Tsvana, in Lesotho, which are approximately 100 km apart from each other and in very different environments. Although communities used other raw material for tool production, 14,000 years ago they both began to use crystal quartz. More than 75% of the minerals are made of mineral in some layers, especially those that keep 18,000 years ago at Seongong. This suggests that widely dispersed hunter-collector groups are connected and engaged with one another.

"We show that although crystal quartz was never the dominant raw material for tool production in or Sehonghong or Ntlana Tsi, the mineral does show increased frequencies after 14,000 years ago," says First Justin Setter, of Emory University. "This pattern is shared between the two sites, separated by 100 kilometers and in very different environments, which suggests that widely dispersed hunter-gathering groups are connected and engaged with one another.

Dr. Paper Jamie Hempson, the author of the paper, said: "Quartz is ready in the area, but from a functional point of view it is not the best material for making small tools. More energy and time to use this material, if flakes are good, can provide a very sharp cutting tool, but most of the time it's just a cutter.

"We found smaller tools smaller and smaller, there was a spike in their use, and increasingly they were made of crystal quartz instead of chert, which would have been a more available stone. You can't say for sure why Crystal quartz is used, but it can be chosen for its unique symbolic qualities, and these shows that churches are more sophisticated and affordable than they were previously given credit for.

Evidence of ethnostic texts and of stone paintings, too, is an ancient community – in the region and around the world – entering a hallucinogenic state. The Luminescence Caused by Sparks When crystal quartz was performed as part of their rituals, it came to an altered state of consciousness and access to the Holy World.

Dr. Hampson has been examining cave paintings and engravings for 20 years, showing how they display and embody the reticles, and in some places put pieces of quartz into gaps and cracks in the rock faces, seen by many Indigenous communities. Barrier between their world and the spiritual world.


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More information:
Justin Pargeter et al. Crystal Materiality Quartz In Terminal Pistosenes Lesotho, Antiquity (2019). DOI: 10.15184 / aqy.2018.167

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University of Exeter

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Great Growth in Use of Quartz for Tools Shows Sophistication of Ancient Communities (2019, May 10)
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