Stone Tools & Society: Working Stone in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain

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agfox.com/blog/wp-includes/imperial/6761.php In the Oriental and East Mediterranean cities, however, permanent smiths received supplies of raw material from the state or from state-supervised merchants; for owing to its importance in the armament industry, trade in metal was generally a state monopoly. In the Oriental cities the craftsmen using such became specialists too — carpenters, masons, sculptors, seal engravers, leatherworkers, embalmers, jewellers, etc. But throughout the first fifteen hundred years of the Bronze Age BC , the farmers in rich and highly civilised Egypt, and still more in barbarian Europe, had to work the land exclusively with a neolithic equipment of wood, bone and stone, thereafter supplemented by some metal sickles; throughout the period sheep were still plucked in default of shears!

Nevertheless, well before the oldest Oriental cities were founded, about BC, agriculture had been revolutionised by the invention of a plough and a yoke. The early ploughs were made entirely of wood and sometimes all in one piece Figure 44 , and would only scratch the surface of the soil a plough equipped with mould-board [12] and coultert [13] to turn over the sod is first found late in the iron age about BC in North-Western Europe, where this device is essential for working the richest soils of the temperate zone.

Not only did the plough enormously augment the productivity of agriculture and initiate the employment of non-human motive power, it also transferred the principal productive activity of society from the females to the males; for cattle-breeding had always been the men's job. Women hoe plots, but men plough fields. You doubtless could make a plough with stone tools, but, as the distribution of.

About the same time another craft was taken out of female hands and industrialised. Metal tools enabled the carpenter to execute more accurate and delicate work than had been possible with stone — to make fish-tail and other joints for planks, for instance. The most important consequence was the invention of the wheel.

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Its most obvious application was to transport, converting the clumsy sledge into a wheeled cart or a war-chariot. But on a fast spinning wheel — ie, a disc of wood, stone or clay fixed horizontally on a vertical axle that can be set in motion by the feet — a man can make in five minutes from a lump of clay what it might take a woman five days to build up by hand.

But he must be an expert, a professional. Thus potting became the first mechanised craft. The housewife was thus relieved of one of her chores, but she must henceforth buy her pots with good grain or cloth from the professional potter. Owing to the comparative simplicity of his machinery and the universal availability of his raw material, clay, the potter could maintain his economic freedom even in an Oriental State. But the Bronze Age had witnessed the end of primitive communism and the division of society into classes.

Among barbarian societies indeed land still remained communal property during the Bronze Age and even later. But cattle may have been passing into individual.

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And cattle represented a new sort. Then as plough agriculture replaced hoe cultivation, the ownership of plough oxen gave control of another means of production. Wealth in cattle gave their owner the chance of exploiting whoever had none.

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And with it he could purchase the new weapons of costly bronze and therewith win political p. For against bronze weapons the stone axes and flint daggers that anyone c. Even among Bronze Age barbarians we see the rise of an aristocracy, a class of chiefs, monopolising the new weapons.

In the Near East, where agriculture depends upon irrigation, and in the Mediterranean, where it grows not only corn that must be sown every year but also olives and other fruit trees that bear for generations, control of bronze weapons could win control of the land too — the basic means of production. There in the Bronze Age civilisations the communal lands became the private estates of kings and nobles. These can extort from the cultivators who have become their tenants or serfs the surplus feed requisite to pay for the importation of metal and other raw materials and to support the expert craftsmen who alone can work them.

But these in turn became dependent on king and landowner both for their raw materials and for the sale of their products. In the new class society the craftsmen were relegated to the lower classes with the peasantry who, as we have seen, reaped little benefit from the new industrial metal. The discovery of an effective method of smelting iron or perhaps rather the dissemination of a process long discovered but kept secret by a barbarian tribe of Armenian mountaineers gave opportunities for emancipation.

For it made metal cheap and so broke the monopoly of Bronze Age despots. For iron ore, often indeed of very poor quality, is available nearly everywhere, and could be gotten without deep mining in hard rocks. So any peasant community provided plenty of wood was available, as it was not in Egypt or Mesopotamia could spend the slack winter season in smelting iron for themselves as Swedish peasants did last century.

And with it they could forge not only metal axes and agricultural implements, but also weapons with which to challenge the Bronze Age knights and soldiers equipped from the arsenals of Oriental States. And so we find traces of iron smelting bloomeries in iron age villages all over Europe and Hither Asia, whereas copper had been smelted only on the rare ore fields and that by specialists and had been distributed by merchants to be finished by other specialists.

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And so at the beginning of the Iron Age quite a number of old states in Greece, Asia Minor and Palestine were overthrown and replaced by barbarian societies whose economy still preserved features of primitive communism for instance, in respect of land tenure. Cheap metal tools enormously augmented man's control over nature and the productivity of labour.

But though the new metal could be produced in most villages, iron working neither arrested the specialisation of handicrafts nor the growth of trade in their raw materials and products. And the chief consumer of metal was, as before, the armament industry. Still iron benefited agriculture and craftsmanship as the costlier bronze could not do. At the very beginning of the Iron Age, about BC, in Palestine the peasants began using agricultural tools of metal — hoes Figures 39 and 40 , ploughshares Figure 45 and sickles Figure 50 as well as knives. With cheap iron axes European farmers could seriously tackle the clearing of the forest.

With iron gads, crowbars and picks it was practicable to tunnel through hard rock in order to drain swamps in Italy and to convey water to desert soils in Hither Asia. So the cultivable areas were enlarged and the food supply increased. Fairly soon springy iron shears Figure 53 were invented for sbearing sheep — and used also for barbering and cutting cloth. These advances were due to increasing the productivity of labour by further subdivision of the crafts and the invention of appropriate craft tools so that raw materials, transport and equipment cost less social labour, ie became cheaper.

The subdivision of the crafts is reflected in the new tools invented; the smith Figure 10 was provided with hinged tongs Figure 55 , improved bellows, a variety of specialised hammers, chisels, bits and rymers still worked by the bow-drill to which were added after BC further refinements such as special anvils for nail-making Figure 58 , drawing blocks for wire, etc.

So for the carpenter were devised frame saws Figure 35 , cross-cut saws, claw hammers and new varieties of axes, adzes, chisels, gouges and borers and about 50BC even planes Figure 36 and augers [15]. By the time the Roman armies added remote Britain to their monstrous empire in AD43, nearly all the manual tools used today by smiths, carpenters, masons, bricklayers, shoemakers, barbers, tailors, millers, etc, had been invented. But before this the independent peasant proprietors had been driven off their lands to make way for gangs of slaves or serfs and competition with slave labour had reduced even the free craftsmen to the lower classes again in a new class society.

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The first iron tools for agriculture, and probabJy also the first smith's and carpenter's tools subsequently described had been invented in barbarian societies that had occupied the territories of class states of the Bronze Age. But such states still persisted in Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt and elsewhere, and adopted the new metal for imperialist wars.

The barbarians for their part made themselves a ruling class in Asia Minor and Persia or at least gave up communal land tenure for private holdings in Palestine, Greece and Italy. War —waged for plunder as a regular industry— increased the power of military leaders who naturally secured the major share in the tribal lands, became hereditary princes and nobles and could maintain their position by purchasing superior weapons made from high-grade ores by expert armourers Engels.

So class societies were quickly re-established over wider areas. The cleavage into rich and poor was emphasised by coined money, after BC, which brought in its train mortgages and usury. Even the small peasant proprietor who went in for growing, say olives, for the market instead of corn for subsistence was caught in the same net. For all tended to become dependent on the merchants who bought their products and were better provided with the new coins than anyone else Engels , while the continual wars increased the supply of slaves.

Successful merchants would invest their profits in slaves and set these to work for them in competition with free craftsmen. By BC the little states of Greece and Italy were dominated by capitalists owning estates worked by slaves or tenants and workshops manned by servile artisans.

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Please select Ok if you would like to proceed with this request anyway. New Directions in Archaeology. An ingenious flint implement with a narrow but resistant edge suitable for engraving. Kozlowski, employing a humorous set of hastily drawn cartoons, further criticised the excessive use of ethnographic models for interpreting things Mesolithic, noting that we are in danger of turning the people of the European Mesolithic into North American Indians this has already happened in Germany, if anyone is familiar with certain societies in that country with a penchant for dressing up as Plains warriors For the costly new machines were not owned by the artisans whose work they performed, but by private individuals.

And when between BC and 50AD the Roman Empire swallowed up all the little states and the older states of Africa and Asia, and the barbarian Celts in Western Europe too, it was an empire of usurers and slave-owners. Craftsmen and cultivators alike, whatever their legal status, sank once more into the lower classes. This economic enslavement had been accelerated after BC by the invention of the first labour-saving machines. For these were so costly that unlike the manual tools described above, only states or capitalists could afford to own them.

In the Bronze Age the lintel [16] stones at our own Stonehenge, weighing 61 tons, and the 2,, blocks of the Great Pyramid in Egypt, averaging 2. Even in the Iron Age the Assyrians used no better devices in erecting colossal figures of solid stone in their palaces round Mosul.

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In all, the Egyptian and Assyrian pictures of such operations not oxen but only human tractive power is being used. After BC the Greeks invented the pulley, the block and tackle, shears, and the capstan and enlarged pincers into scissors for grasping large masses. By the beginning of our era the Greeks and Romans possessed appliances for lifting weights and manoeuvring heavy loads that have only been bettered in the last century.

The shears were normally two-legged and kept in position by four stay ropes.

Stone Tools and Society Working Stone in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain by Edmonds Mark

The windlass was turned by a crank or in special cases by a treadmill worked, of course, by slaves. Stout timbers for the shears, strong ropes and even iron-bound windlass and capstan were naturally so expensive that they were owned only by public corporations or capitalist contractors and not the workers who operated them. Even more important for future development were fresh applications of continuous rotary motion, first recognisable in milling. Even in the cities of the Bronze and Iron ages grain was normally converted to flour in each household.

From about BC a rotary quern began to replace the old push-quern in Mediterranean cities, and later in the villages of the still barbarous Celts north of the Alps. The new device consists essentially of two stone discs joined by a central pivot on which the upper stone can be rotated by a wooden handle.

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The rotary quern lightened domestic labour, but, like the loom in neolithic times, and the sewing machine last century, it remained a domestic appliance, worked by the housewife or her slaves and did not of itself create a new specialised craft as the potter's wheel had done.