Stone Age Pyrotechnology

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Stone age pyrotechnology described in ScienceNOW 13 August 2009, and Science Daily and ABC News in Science, 14 August 2009. Archaeologists collecting stone tools at a site called Pinnacle Point in South Africa have long been puzzled by stone tools made of a fine grained rock named silcrete. The tools showed evidence of much working to make them into effective tools, but scientists have not been able to replicate tools from these archaeological sites using newly excavated silcrete. The tools were also a different colour to silcrete found in quarries. During an excavation Kyle Brown of University of Cape Town and colleagues found a piece of worked silcrete in some ash. This inspired Brown to put some silcrete in the fire pit the research team were using at their camp.

Brown described the outcome of this initial experiment: "When I returned to dig the stone out the following day, the results were amazing. After heating, the silcrete became a deep red colour and was easily flaked. Most importantly, it looked exactly like silcrete from site PP5-6. Using heated silcrete we were then able to produce realistic copies of the actual silcrete tools." He went on to say: "Here are the beginnings of fire and engineering, the origins of pyrotechnology, and the bridge to more recent ceramic and metal technology.”

However, the stone tools from the archaeological site were not just campfire accidents. After much trial and error, the researchers found that it took 20 to 40 kilograms of hardwood and almost 30 hours to create the 300 degrees C temperatures in silcrete needed to fashion tools like those seen at Pinnacle Point. Brown explained: "It requires a lot of planning. It's not the kind of thing people would do with an ordinary cooking fire."

The site of the heat treated stones has been dated at 72,000 years old. One of the other researchers, Curtis Marean a paleoanthropologist with the Institute of Human Origins, commented: "Prior to our work, heat treatment was widely regarded as first occurring in Europe at about 25,000 years ago. We push this back at least 45,000 years, and perhaps, 139,000 years, and place it on the southern tip of Africa at Pinnacle Point."

ABC, Science Daily

Editorial Comment: Don’t be surprised that the oldest known written description of Pyrotechnology, i.e. heat treating materials, is first mentioned in Genesis 4 where Tubal-Cain, who lived before Noah’s Flood, is described as forging tools of metal and bronze. This knowledge would have been preserved by Noah’s family and his immediate post-flood descendants would have used it in building the city and Tower of Babel. After the people were scattered from Babel they took that knowledge with them, and used fire on whatever materials were available for them. Stoneage people were not ape-men on the way up. They were intelligent human beings suffering the consequences of having defied God and being scattered, and having to eke out an existence in a tough environment with few resources. For a more detailed study see the Creation Research DVD From Skyscrapers to Stone Age: The Devolution of Man. (Ref. anthropology, engineering, technology).

Evidence News, 2 September 2009

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