I know, it doesn’t look like much, but that’s a Neanderthal tool, and it’s between 40,000 and 90,000 years old. I believe it’s a “side scraper”, but being a non-expert, wtf do I know? There are some interesting features on I can point to from the comfort of my armchair that make this a tool, and not just a random piece of rock. Along the top, on the left side is a very straight, sharp edge. You can see small serration marks along the edge. They say nature sucks at straight lines(which is bullshit, but it’s a cliche, and who are you to argue with a good cliche?) so I’m gonna go on a limb and say that’s one piece of evidence. If you look closely, you can see the serrations on the edge where some detail work was done to sharpen up the edge. There are multiple points on the face where you can see that it has been struck during knapping, including one really nice one on the left side that shows nicely from the back. On the back, it’s pretty smooth. I think the smooth side would have been the side pressed into the hide, and then scraped with the angled side facing up. The straight edge would have been used to basically shave the flesh away from the inside of an animal pelt. I’m completely talking out of my ass here, but you probably know about as much as I do about ancient Neolithic tools, so we’ll just all nod sagely and pretend we know what we’re talking about.
It was found in Dordogne, France. It’s a Mousterian tool, which is ancient Neanderthal for “The Mustachioed Ones.” Also, it refers to a particular style of primitive flint tools that were mostly associated with Neanderthal.
Alternatively, at the bottom of the top picture(or the top of the bottom picture), along the right, there’s a curved feature that looks something like a blade. It appears to be serrated too. This may have been the “business end” of this scraper, and the straight line on the back might just be coincidental. When holding the tool in my hands, this orientation somehow “feels” more right. My index finger fits nicely into a little groove that you wouldn’t even notice was there otherwise.
There’s something nifty about a stupid little piece of rock that was an important tool in the hands of a man who wasn’t even a member of the same species as me. His species died out tens of thousands of years ago, and now I have a little piece of his life, and his wit, such as it was. It’s just a meaningless little chip off a stone somewhere, but encapsulated in it is an intellectual leap of profound proportions. Encapsulated within it, are the beginnings of man’s capability to understand his world, and shape it, rather than just exist as a part of it.
Throughout our planets history, life has adapted to its ever changing conditions. Yet, somehow, somewhere, somewhen, way back in Africa, a primate got a little too smart for his own britches, and started adapting the world around him instead. You wanna pinpoint the period when Humanity really changed this world? You’re looking at it. Right around this time, a new species called Homo Sapiens came stampeding out of Africa to rapidly dominate the planet. This tool sits right at the boundary, the last piece of human history that wasn’t actually Human. It marks the boundary between the world as it was before Us, and the world as it became after we arrived and took ownership of it.