Many pets have possessions – beavers have dams, spiders webs and also magpies shining objects, for circumstances – but only humans have a innovative material society that we count upon because that survival. How did we evolve to it is in so materialistic? in search of an answer, we’ve dug into the archaeological record for the earliest instances of possessions. Graham Lawton

Read more: “Stuff: people as hunters and mega-gatherers”




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First tool: 2.6 million year old rock tools may well have actually been the an initial possessions. Scratches on pet bones show that such devices were in usage 3.4 million year ago. Our oldest instances of the tools themselves, yet are 2.6 million year old, native the Afar an ar of Ethiopia. These so-called Oldowan tools were probably made by an early ancestor such as Homo ergaster. Lock are merely pebbles that have actually been struggle with one more rock to develop a spicy edge or point. Oldowan tools continued to be the state that the art until around 1.7 million years ago, when there was a leap forward in technology. (Image: Michael J. Rogers)


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First weapon: 300,000 year old

wood doesn"t last as well as stone, so us will probably never understand when humans an initial made and used wood tools. But we recognize it predated the evolution of modern humans by at the very least 100,000 years. in between 1994 and 1998, excavators found eight wooden spears in an opencast coal mine in Schöningen, Germany. At the very least 300,000 years old, they are assumed to it is in the handiwork of Homo heidelbergensis, the instant ancestor the H. Sapiens. Do from spruce or pine and up to 2.5 metres long, they resemble javelins and were probably throwing spears. (Image: Chip Clark/Smithsonian)


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First jewellery: 100,000 years old

in ~ some point in our evolution past, possessions stopped being purely utilitarian and acquired ornamental or symbolic value. The earliest evidence we have actually of this are these 2 pea-sized snail shells indigenous Skhul, a 100,000-year-old human habitation website in Israel. Lock both have a small hole in them and also could have actually been fashioned as beads. The scale bar indicates 1 centimetre. The earliest unequivocal jewellery, however, is 75,000 year old: a collection of 41 shells native Blombos cave, ~ above the southern reminder of south Africa. All space punctured in the same place and also show signs of stay from carry strung together. (Image: Marian Vanhaeren/Francesco d"Errico)


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First bed: 77,000 year old

It"s hard to imagine life there is no somewhere to lay her head, and also our old ancestors it seems ~ to have felt the exact same way. In 2011 excavators found a 30-centimetre-thick great of compacted rushes and also reeds in a cavern called Sibudu, near the Uthongathi river in south Africa: this picture shows the stays of leaves from the find. Date to 77,000 years ago, it appears to have been offered for resting on and, at 2 square metres in area, it probably slept an entire family. The mattress was discovered at the bottom that a series of layers of grasses and leafy plants which the archaeologists likewise interpreted together bedding, with proof of regular burning, more than likely for hygiene. The youngest layer to be 38,000 year old, saying that this edge of the cave was offered as a resting quarters for almost 40,000 years. (Image: Marion Bamford)




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First pot: 20,000 years old

excavators once thought that ceramic was invented in the middle East around 8000 years ago, not long after the dawn that agriculture. That appeared to make sense, due to the fact that pottery vessels room fragile and so would not have actually been much use to nomadic hunter-gatherers. end the past 10 years, however, larger pottery has been unearthed in eastern Asia. In 2012, archaeologists announced the discovery of the oldest yet: 20,000-year-old potsherds from a cave in China"s Jiangxi province. They have soot and also scorch point out on their outer surfaces, indicating the the pot they came from was supplied for cooking. Food preparation of what, however, continues to be a mystery: no residue has been found on the inside surface. According to the archaeologists, the pot was practically certainly made and used by hunter-gatherers that would visit the cavern from time come time. It days from the height of the last ice age, leading to suggestions that cooking was used to extract valuable extra calorie from food. (Image: Science/AAAS)


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First shoe: 5500 years old

Genetic evidence from lice the have progressed to live in clothing suggest that humans started attract garments around 70,000 year ago. However, clothes do not survive for long: the earliest remains that might once have actually been clothes are simply a couple of thousand years old. The oldest intact garment is a shoe date from around 5500 year ago. Uncovered in a cavern in Armenia, that is made from a single piece that cowhide laced at the front and earlier with leather cord. as with clothing, however, direct evidence that shoe-wearing goes ago much further. Human being toe bones indigenous China dating earlier 40,000 years present telltale anatomical indicators that their owners were habitual shoe-wearers. (Image: AFP/Getty)