Saturday 8 August 2015

Archaeological evidence for a Looooonng stone age

From the Natural Historian:

Trillions of stone artifacts cover the surface of the African continent. The product of the manufacturing of stone tools by hunters and gathers over long periods of time, these stone artifacts literally carpet the ground in some places in Egypt and Libya.
Just how much Stone-Age produced rock could be strewn across the African continent?
Trillions and trillions of artifacts!
The trillion isn’t a typo. That number sounds absolutely fantastic, doesn’t it?  Let’s take a look at how these numbers were derived.
The results of a study just published (see references below) shows how incredibly dense stone artifacts can be in some places in Africa.   Working in a remote location in southern Libya, researchers took surveys from hundreds of one or two-meter square plots. From the tens of thousands of artifacts found in them, they estimated a minimum density of 250,000 stone artifacts per square kilometer is present in this portion of Libya.
One of the interesting parts of the article was the timeline given by AIG.  It includes an Ice Age.  It does not contain a stone age.  I have always wanted a Creationist timeline of Biblical and world events to see if and how they put them together.  Such a timeline would not need to include volcanic eruptions in Austral-Asia unless records show they affected the Middle-East but perhaps  1) a suggestion for when humans arrived in Australia would be handy- along with evidence supporting the date.
2) Geologists and Paleontologists claim evidence for five or six extinctions and several Ice Ages.  I don't know the details but would like to see an explanation for only one extinction and only Ice Age.
3) The start and end dates for construction of the Egyptian pyramids.
4) known fossil layers - From Pre-Cambrian on.
Back to the numbers of stone tools.  My Internet connection is not working right now so I am typing this in Wordpad.  When I am connected, I will try to find the link from Terry Mortenson of AIG who critiqued the original blog post.  If I do not, then note that two other bloggers that I do have links for have responded to Mortenson's reaction.  They are:
Age of Rocks

and Evoanth

From Age of Rocks:
More importantly, Terry makes no serious or scientific attempt to explain why anthropologists and geoarcheologists have misidentified thousands of artifacts, which were actually created by random collisions with other clasts. He essentially mocks those who are familiar with the process of weathering and erosion and have long considered how to distinguish random chipping from human knapping. He writes:
Below quoting Mortenson:
As AiG geologist Dr. Andrew Snelling commented to me after seeing the pictures and reading the article, these are mainly gravels transported and deposited by moving water. In the process they were rounded or shattered to varying degrees… Dr. Snelling added, “Such ‘artifacts’ are not found all across Africa, as there is much of Africa that isn’t desert. And they are not seen anywhere across the USA that I am aware of, or in Australia.” (emphasis added)
Age of Rocks points out that looking at a few photos and saying, "No, that's wrong" is not how science works.  Best would be if Snelling went and handled some of the rocks in location but an entirely acceptable alternative would be to read and respond to the actual published study.  AofR also notes that Snelling appears unaware of the Clovis people that lived in North America, including the USA and are known for their stone tools.
Evoanth (not sure what this is a shortform of) notes this part of the Mortenson's rebuttal:
...these [artifacts] are mainly gravels transported and deposited by moving water. In the process they were rounded or shattered to varying degrees . . . In any case, they are not all artifacts (“stone-age” tools) scattered over this vast area. In fact, it is highly questionable if any but a few of them are.
Evoanth responds:
Stop the presses everyone. Stones can break naturally. This is something now archaeologist had ever realised! It changes everything.
Oh wait, yes they had. Scientists are fully aware that rocks can break naturally (such rocks are called geofacts) and have a whole raft of techniques for telling them apart from actual artifacts. 
Evoanth then gives a list of four such techniques that you will have to visit the site to learn for yourself.
I have a really trivial example to post here.  Two, I guess.  First, in an animal behavior class in university, I studied bees that lived under a layer of glass.  The hive was basically two-dimensional except for bees climbing over each other.  There were no extra combs out of sight.  When I started my research, all I saw was a lot of bees moving aimlessly.   After twenty minutes, I saw my first waggle dance.  I noticed more waggle dances as time went on until I saw that there was one or more every minute.  My classmates and I would impress passers-by with, "Look, right there, a waggle dance..... There's another." And the spectator would see them but not be able to find any more until we pointed them out.
Second, and far more trivial.  I lived and worked near lakes and on boats throughout my childhood.  While painting a cottage near the water, a coworker asked me about a high-pitched hum he heard.  Without hesitation, I told him it was the whine of hydraulics in an Inboard/outboard boat motor.  He looked out and saw one just leaving its berth and the propeller mechanism was being lowered to cruising position.

I don't want to pretend to be an expert in any field but I do have sympathy for actual experts whose results are ignored or ridiculed with no real basis.  Rocks that break through chance have different characteristics than ones that are repeatedly smashed in one orientation. A geologist like Snelling might have the necessary background but he would do better to explain why the stones look more like ones washed along by a river than hand knapped into shape.

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