Social Change with Respect to Culture and Original Nature

By William Fielding Ogburn | Go to book overview

3
EARLY RECORDS OF CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT

The earliest evidences of material culture are eoliths or “dawn-stones.” These eoliths are rough fragments of hard stones that might have been used as cutting implements or as scrapers. They have been found in considerable numbers over Europe, but so far no remains of early man have been found with them. It is not known positively that the eoliths were broken or fashioned by the hands of an animal. It is possible that these fragments may have been the result of forces of nature. They occur in deposits dating back to the early beginnings of the Pleistocene period and possibly well back into the Pliocene. The Pleistocene is the period of the four glacial and the corresponding interglacial and postglacial periods. Its beginning is a half-million or more years ago.

It is not until the third interglacial period, however, that stone implements are found which are definitely known to have been artificially chipped. These implements are made apparently from accidental forms by a few retouches. Five or six forms have been classified; planing tools, scrapers, drills or borers, knives, hammerstones and hand stones. This industry is called the PreChellean and existed 125,000 years ago according to Osborn’s estimate.5 Others have dated it another 100,000 years further back. But certainly 125,000 years ago there was a material culture. Observations have been most frequent in Europe, and of course it cannot be said what future excavations may show. Only slight search has been made in Asia and the finding of remains of early culture is to a certain extent accidental.

The Cheilean stone industry was fairly highly developed and quite extensive. Its date was around 100,000 years ago according to Osborn.

5 Henry Fairfield Osborn, Men of the Old Stone Age.

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