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  #1  
Old 04-13-2006, 09:26 PM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is offline
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Oldest MAN MADE thing found

What is the single oldest man-made object ever discovered?

Ground rules: by man-made I mean an object deliberately manufactured or altered by humans / neandertals/ cro-magnons or whatever. The remnants of an animal bone gnawed by ancient man would not count. An amimal horn that was used as a primitive pick wouldn't count, but one thathad been deliberately shaped to make a more efficient tool would count. A rock worn down by being used to crack nuts wouldn't count, but a rock decorated for artistic purposes would count.
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  #2  
Old 04-13-2006, 11:12 PM
edwino edwino is offline
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2.5 to 2.6 million years old.

Stone tools from Gona, Ethopia. Work was published in Nature in 1997.
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  #3  
Old 04-14-2006, 12:12 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Define "man".
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  #4  
Old 04-14-2006, 12:49 AM
Eleusis Eleusis is offline
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Hrmmph. You read the OP?

I think he already defined it.
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  #5  
Old 04-14-2006, 12:53 AM
Squink Squink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
Define "man".
Quote:
MAN, n.
An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada.
...
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  #6  
Old 04-14-2006, 10:46 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eleusis
Hrmmph. You read the OP?

I think he already defined it.
"Whatever" is hardly a good working definition. Since he includes Neanderthals, which are not in the direct line of descent of modern humans, then there would be no reason not to include every species that ever lived unless he means the oldest thing made by a member of the Genus Homo. In that case, we don't know for sure that the 2.5M year old stone tools were "man made". They could have been made by Australopithicines.
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  #7  
Old 04-14-2006, 01:35 PM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
"Whatever" is hardly a good working definition. [/I].
I meant it to be as general as possible so it wouldn't exclude anything. If those tools were made by australopithecines, then I would still consider them to be man-made.

How about this for a definition for the purposes of this particular question : Man is any creature capable of deliberately manufacturing or altering tools for a specific purpose.

As for the rest of the animal kingdom, if you can show me 5-million year old cow tools I'd be interested in that too.


BTW, rather than identify a class of objects, I'm really hoping you can identify a specific object, and say something like "this particular arrowhead is the single oldest artifact ever discovered" Is that possible?
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  #8  
Old 04-14-2006, 01:37 PM
UncleBeer UncleBeer is offline
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Gas station vending machine sandwiches. Probably the cheese ones.
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  #9  
Old 04-14-2006, 01:52 PM
zoid zoid is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris
How about this for a definition for the purposes of this particular question : Man is any creature capable of deliberately manufacturing or altering tools for a specific purpose.
So do chimpanzees who break twigs off and strip them of leaves to fashion a device for “fishing” for termites count as “human”?
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  #10  
Old 04-14-2006, 02:25 PM
Jayrot Jayrot is offline
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Originally Posted by zoid
So do chimpanzees who break twigs off and strip them of leaves to fashion a device for “fishing” for termites count as “human”?
I knew someone was going to say this (I was thinking of it myself). I imagine the answer would be "yes, now please identify a 3000+ year old twig that can be shown to have been used as a tool by chimps".
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  #11  
Old 04-14-2006, 04:49 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris
I meant it to be as general as possible so it wouldn't exclude anything. If those tools were made by australopithecines, then I would still consider them to be man-made.
An important point of clarificantion, since not many people who know about this sort of thing would think that Australopithicine = man.

Quote:
How about this for a definition for the purposes of this particular question : Man is any creature capable of deliberately manufacturing or altering tools for a specific purpose.
[/QUOTE]
That's a terrible definition of "man", even if it ends up giving you the answer you seem to be looking for. It would only be by luck, or simply not looking that we've never found any such objects made by an organism that couldn't be considered "man" by any stretch of the imagination.
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Old 04-14-2006, 05:06 PM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is offline
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I think you know exactly what I mean, even though I lack the detailed knowledge of human evolution to use the correct technical terms.

Actually, I suspect you don't either, given that the dictionary disagrees with your spelling of australopithecines.

Perhaps the question should be "what is the oldest artifact made by an intelligent ape-descended life form" Happy?
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  #13  
Old 04-14-2006, 05:18 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris
Perhaps the question should be "what is the oldest artifact made by an intelligent ape-descended life form" Happy?
Actually, that's not bad!
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  #14  
Old 04-14-2006, 05:47 PM
zoid zoid is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayrot
I knew someone was going to say this (I was thinking of it myself). I imagine the answer would be "yes, now please identify a 3000+ year old twig that can be shown to have been used as a tool by chimps".
I'm sure I couldn't identify one if I fell over it - I was just wondering about the constraints.
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  #15  
Old 04-14-2006, 06:42 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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I didn't notice this before:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris
BTW, rather than identify a class of objects, I'm really hoping you can identify a specific object, and say something like "this particular arrowhead is the single oldest artifact ever discovered" Is that possible?
No, I don't think we can. The Olduvai stone tools referenced in post #2 are the oldest hominid-made tools, but I can't believe anyone would point to just one of them and say: This particular one is the oldest. Our dating methodolgy doesn't work that way.
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  #16  
Old 04-15-2006, 12:00 AM
wolf_meister wolf_meister is offline
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The server at the Straight Dope Message Board.
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  #17  
Old 04-15-2006, 12:41 AM
lieu lieu is offline
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I would wonder if the evolution of tools from haphazard flint chips (or the like) into something more utilitarian and, therefore, recognizable can fit your question. I mean I completely understand the spirit from which you're asking, but I'm not sure a delineation exists with which to provide an answer.

Maybe the one thing I could argue is that a tool existed before an object de art but at what point did a knapped remnant qualify as a tool?

I can see the answer to your question being approached and claimed by seperate archaeologists, each based on their potentially personal (and selfish) definitions.
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  #18  
Old 04-15-2006, 04:57 AM
Operation Ripper Operation Ripper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolf_meister
The server at the Straight Dope Message Board.
Hehe.
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  #19  
Old 04-15-2006, 06:31 AM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
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Why discriminate against all the other animals, or other kingdoms for that matter, what if a dolphin made a fishing net way back then? Or a Martian made a transwarp drive?

How about the oldest manufactured artifact?
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  #20  
Old 04-15-2006, 04:31 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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The server at the Straight Dope Message Board.
No, that was made by pre-human proto-hampsters. Minature giant space hampsters, to be precise.
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  #21  
Old 04-15-2006, 11:33 PM
xiix xiix is offline
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Scientists have published a paper in the journal Nature describing stone tools made 2.5 million to 2.6 million years ago that are considered the oldest-known artifacts created by humans or their direct ancestors. (bolding is mine)

Surely that is redundant improper English?
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  #22  
Old 04-17-2006, 01:25 AM
Dervorin Dervorin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos
No, that was made by pre-human proto-hampsters. Minature giant space hampsters, to be precise.
Minature giants? Where can I find more true false information about this horribly wonderful life-form?
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