Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that second group. Charles Darwin recognized the small number of traits that made domestic species different from their wild ancestors, he was the first to recognize the difference between conscious selective breeding in which humans directly select for desirable traits, unconscious selection where traits evolve as a by-product of natural selection or from selection on other traits. There is a genetic difference between wild populations. There is such a difference between the domestication traits that researchers believe to have been essential at the early stages of domestication, the improvement traits that have appeared since the split between wild and domestic populations. Domestication traits are fixed within all domesticates, were selected during the initial episode of domestication of that animal or plant, whereas improvement traits are present only in a proportion of domesticates, though they may be fixed in individual breeds or regional populations.
The dog was the first domesticated vertebrate, was established across Eurasia before the end of the Late Pleistocene era, well before cultivation and before the domestication of other animals. The archaeological and genetic data suggest that long-term bidirectional gene flow between wild and domestic stocks – including donkeys, horses and Old World camelids, goats and pigs – was common. Given its importance to humans and its value as a model of evolutionary and demographic change, domestication has attracted scientists from archaeology, anthropology, zoology and the environmental sciences. Among birds, the major domestic species today is the chicken, important for meat and eggs, though economically valuable poultry include the turkey and numerous other species. Birds are widely kept as cagebirds, from songbirds to parrots; the longest established invertebrate domesticates are the silkworm. Terrestrial snails are raised for food, while species from several phyla are kept for research, others are bred for biological control.
The domestication of plants began at least 12,000 years ago with cereals in the Middle East, the bottle gourd in Asia. Agriculture developed in at least 11 different centres around the world, domesticating different crops and animals. Domestication, from the Latin domesticus,'belonging to the house', is "a sustained multi-generational, mutualistic relationship in which one organism assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another organism in order to secure a more predictable supply of a resource of interest, through which the partner organism gains advantage over individuals that remain outside this relationship, thereby benefitting and increasing the fitness of both the domesticator and the target domesticate." This definition recognizes both the biological and the cultural components of the domestication process and the impacts on both humans and the domesticated animals and plants. All past definitions of domestication have included a relationship between humans with plants and animals, but their differences lay in, considered as the lead partner in the relationship.
This new definition recognizes a mutualistic relationship. Domestication has vastly enhanced the reproductive output of crop plants and pets far beyond that of their wild progenitors. Domesticates have provided humans with resources that they could more predictably and securely control and redistribute, the advantage that had fueled a population explosion of the agro-pastoralists and their spread to all corners of the planet. Houseplants and ornamentals are plants domesticated for aesthetic enjoyment in and around the home, while those domesticated for large-scale food production are called crops. Domesticated plants deliberately altered or selected for special desirable characteristics are cultigens. Animals domesticated for home companionship are called pets, while those domesticated for food or work are known as livestock; this biological mutualism is not restricted to humans with domestic crops and livestock but is well-documented in nonhuman species among a number of social insect domesticators and their plant and animal domesticates, for example the ant–fungus mutualism that exists between leafcutter ants and certain fungi.
Domestication syndrome is the suite of phenotypic traits arising during domestication that distinguish crops from their wild ancestors. The term is applied to vertebrate animals, includes increased docility and tameness, coat color changes, reductions in tooth size, changes in craniofacial morphology, alterations in ear and tail form, more frequent and nonseasonal estrus cycles, alterations in adrenocorticotropic hormone levels, changed concentrations of several neurotransmitters, prolongations in juvenile behavior, reductions in both total brain size and of particular brain regions; the domestication of animals and plants began with the wolf at least 15,000 years before present, which led to a rapid shift in the evolution and demography of both humans and numerous species of animals and plants. The sudden appearance of the domestic dog in the archaeological record was followed by livestock and crop domestication, the transition of humans from foraging to farming in different places and times across the planet.
Around 10,000 YBP, a new way of life emerged for humans through the management and exploitation of plant and an
The Schöningen spears are a set of eight wooden throwing spears from the Palaeolithic Age that were excavated between 1994 and 1998 in the open-cast lignite mine in Schöningen, Helmstedt district, together with an associated cache of 16,000 animal bones. The excavations took place under the management of Hartmut Thieme of the Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage. Assessed as being between 380,000 and 400,000 years old, they represent the oldest preserved hunting weapons of prehistoric Europe so far discovered; as such they predate the age of Neanderthal Man, is associated with Homo heidelbergensis. The spears support the practice of hunting by archaic humans in Europe in the late Lower Paleolithic; the age of the spears was estimated from their stratigraphic position, "sandwiched between deposits of the Elsterian and Saalian glaciations, situated within a well-studied sedimentary sequence.". More thermoluminescence dating of heated flints in a deposit beneath that which contained the spears suggested that the spears were between 337,000 and 300,000 years old.
The site of the finds is one of 13 Palaeolithic places of discovery in the open-cast, lignite mine, excavated in the course of the prospection of the quaternary surface layer from 1992 to 2009. The 60 by 50 m excavation base, excluded from coal mining represents a small segment of a former littoral zone; this zone has been visited over millennia, between the Elster- and Saale ice ages, by humans and animals alike. The pedestal displays five massive, layered sediment packages that were created by varying levels of the lake and silting-up processes. Thanks to the quick, airtight covering of the archaeological layers by mud, the organic materials are exceptionally well preserved. In the sequence of the sedimentary layers, climate changes can be read with a high resolution - from a warm, dry phase to airy deciduous forests to tundra; the spears themselves are from an 10 m wide and 50 m long strip, parallel to the former lake shore in the sedimentary layer four, the late Holstein-interglacial. The archaeological layers beneath have only been excavated and have been an objective of a research excavation by the DFG since 2010.
Together with the spears, some stone artefacts, chips as well as over 10,000 animal bones were found, amongst them 90% horse bones, followed by red deer and European bison. The horse bones are indicative of at least 20 individuals, they show numerous cut marks made by stone tools, but only a few bite marks made by animals. The site is interpreted by the excavator Harald Thieme as testimony of a hunting event as well as the following cutting up and preparation of the kill. According to his scenario, the thick reeds at the lake shore gave the hunters cover, from where the horses, trapped between the hunters and the lake, were culled with accurate spear throws; because there are bones of young animals amongst the horse bones, he concludes that the hunt took place in autumn. Furthermore, he sees evidence of ritualistic activity; the spears, deformed by the load of the sediment pressure, are made from slim, straight spruce stems – except for spear IV, made from pine wood. The spears vary in length with diameters ranging from 29 to 47 mm.
They have been worked thoroughly and are evidence of developed technological skills and of a workmanlike tradition. Like in today’s tournament javelins, the greatest diameter and therefore its centre of gravity is in the front third of the shaft; the tips are worked symmetrically from the base of the stems, the end of the tips were worked beside the medullary ray, the weakest part of the stem, on purpose. In their throwing qualities, the Schöningen Spears are equal to modern tournament javelins. During tests, athletes could throw replicas up to 70 m; the choice of the wood is to be climatically determined, because during the cooler climate near the end of the interglacial, conifers grew close to the site of the finds. More unique wooden artefacts were found at the place of discovery of the wild horse hunting camp: a charred wooden staff as well as a wooden tool, tapered at both ends, interpreted as a throwing stick; the stone tools at the place of discovery consist of different pointed forms.
Evidence of blank production is missing. Among the finds are the so-called "grooved wooden tools", excavated at the place of discovery No. 12. Made from the hard wooden branch-bases of the European silver fir, noticeably incised at one end, they may have been used as a mounting for stone blades. If this interpretation is correct, they are the oldest composite tools of mankind. Thanks to the good preservation conditions at the place of discovery, there are many finds of small animals, among them small mammals, fish and insects. Together with the carpological remains they make a detailed reconstruction of the climate and the environment of the passing of an interglacial period possible; the spears and the place of discovery have revolutionized the picture of the cultural and social development of early humans. The widespread opinion was that Homo heidelbergensis were simple beings without language that lived on plants and carrion; the spears and their correlated finds are evidence of complex technological skills and are the fir
The Neolithic Revolution, Neolithic Demographic Transition, Agricultural Revolution, or First Agricultural Revolution was the wide-scale transition of many human cultures during the Neolithic period from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, making an larger population possible. These settled communities permitted humans to observe and experiment with plants to learn how they grew and developed; this new knowledge led to the domestication of plants. Archaeological data indicates that the domestication of various types of plants and animals happened in separate locations worldwide, starting in the geological epoch of the Holocene around 12,500 years ago, it was the world's first verifiable revolution in agriculture. The Neolithic Revolution narrowed the diversity of foods available, resulting in a downturn in the quality of human nutrition; the Neolithic Revolution involved far more than the adoption of a limited set of food-producing techniques. During the next millennia it would transform the small and mobile groups of hunter-gatherers that had hitherto dominated human pre-history into sedentary societies based in built-up villages and towns.
These societies radically modified their natural environment by means of specialized food-crop cultivation, with activities such as irrigation and deforestation which allowed the production of surplus food. Other developments found widely are the domestication of animals, polished stone tools, rectangular houses; these developments, sometimes called the Neolithic package, provided the basis for centralized administrations and political structures, hierarchical ideologies, depersonalized systems of knowledge, densely populated settlements and division of labour, more trade, the development of non-portable art and architecture, property ownership. The earliest known civilization developed in Sumer in southern Mesopotamia; the relationship of the above-mentioned Neolithic characteristics to the onset of agriculture, their sequence of emergence, empirical relation to each other at various Neolithic sites remains the subject of academic debate, varies from place to place, rather than being the outcome of universal laws of social evolution.
The Levant saw the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BCE, followed by sites in the wider Fertile Crescent. The term Neolithic Revolution was coined in 1923 by V. Gordon Childe to describe the first in a series of agricultural revolutions in Middle Eastern history; the period is described as a "revolution" to denote its importance, the great significance and degree of change affecting the communities in which new agricultural practices were adopted and refined. The beginning of this process in different regions has been dated from 10,000 to 8,000 BC in the Fertile Crescent and 8000 BC in the Kuk Early Agricultural Site of Melanesia; this transition everywhere seems associated with a change from a nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to a more settled, agrarian-based one, with the inception of the domestication of various plant and animal species—depending on the species locally available, also influenced by local culture. Recent archaeological research suggests that in some regions such as the Southeast Asian peninsula, the transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist was not linear, but region-specific.
There are several competing theories as to the factors that drove populations to take up agriculture. The most prominent of these are: The Oasis Theory proposed by Raphael Pumpelly in 1908, popularized by V. Gordon Childe in 1928 and summarised in Childe's book Man Makes Himself; this theory maintains that as the climate got drier due to the Atlantic depressions shifting northward, communities contracted to oases where they were forced into close association with animals, which were domesticated together with planting of seeds. However, today this theory has little support amongst archaeologists because subsequent climate data suggests that the region was getting wetter rather than drier; the Hilly Flanks hypothesis, proposed by Robert Braidwood in 1948, suggests that agriculture began in the hilly flanks of the Taurus and Zagros mountains, where the climate was not drier as Childe had believed, fertile land supported a variety of plants and animals amenable to domestication. The Feasting model by Brian Hayden suggests that agriculture was driven by ostentatious displays of power, such as giving feasts, to exert dominance.
This required assembling large quantities of food. The Demographic theories proposed by Carl Sauer and adapted by Lewis Binford and Kent Flannery posit an sedentary population that expanded up to the carrying capacity of the local environment and required more food than could be gathered. Various social and economic factors helped drive the need for food; the evolutionary/intentionality theory, developed by David Rindos and others, views agriculture as an evolutionary adaptation of plants and humans. Starting with domestication by protection of wild plants, it led to specialization of location and full-fledged domestication. Peter Richerson, Robert Boyd, Robert Bettinger make a case for the development of agriculture coinciding with an stable climate at the beginning of the Holocene. Ronald Wright's book and Massey Lecture Series A Short History of Progress popularized this hypothesis; the postulated Younger Dryas impact event, claimed to be in part responsible for megafauna extinction and ending the last glacial period, could have provided circumstances that required the evolution
Technology is the collection of techniques, skills and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation. Technology can be the knowledge of techniques and the like, or it can be embedded in machines to allow for operation without detailed knowledge of their workings. Systems applying technology by taking an input, changing it according to the system's use, producing an outcome are referred to as technology systems or technological systems; the simplest form of technology is the use of basic tools. The prehistoric discovery of how to control fire and the Neolithic Revolution increased the available sources of food, the invention of the wheel helped humans to travel in and control their environment. Developments in historic times, including the printing press, the telephone, the Internet, have lessened physical barriers to communication and allowed humans to interact on a global scale. Technology has many effects, it has allowed the rise of a leisure class.
Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products known as pollution and deplete natural resources to the detriment of Earth's environment. Innovations have always influenced the values of a society and raised new questions in the ethics of technology. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, the challenges of bioethics. Philosophical debates have arisen over the use of technology, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it. Neo-Luddism, anarcho-primitivism, similar reactionary movements criticize the pervasiveness of technology, arguing that it harms the environment and alienates people; the use of the term "technology" has changed over the last 200 years. Before the 20th century, the term was uncommon in English, it was used either to refer to the description or study of the useful arts or to allude to technical education, as in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the term "technology" rose to prominence in the 20th century in connection with the Second Industrial Revolution.
The term's meanings changed in the early 20th century when American social scientists, beginning with Thorstein Veblen, translated ideas from the German concept of Technik into "technology." In German and other European languages, a distinction exists between technik and technologie, absent in English, which translates both terms as "technology." By the 1930s, "technology" referred not only to the study of the industrial arts but to the industrial arts themselves. In 1937, the American sociologist Read Bain wrote that "technology includes all tools, utensils, instruments, clothing and transporting devices and the skills by which we produce and use them." Bain's definition remains common among scholars today social scientists. Scientists and engineers prefer to define technology as applied science, rather than as the things that people make and use. More scholars have borrowed from European philosophers of "technique" to extend the meaning of technology to various forms of instrumental reason, as in Foucault's work on technologies of the self.
Dictionaries and scholars have offered a variety of definitions. The Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary offers a definition of the term: "the use of science in industry, etc. to invent useful things or to solve problems" and "a machine, piece of equipment, etc., created by technology." Ursula Franklin, in her 1989 "Real World of Technology" lecture, gave another definition of the concept. The term is used to imply a specific field of technology, or to refer to high technology or just consumer electronics, rather than technology as a whole. Bernard Stiegler, in Technics and Time, 1, defines technology in two ways: as "the pursuit of life by means other than life," and as "organized inorganic matter."Technology can be most broadly defined as the entities, both material and immaterial, created by the application of mental and physical effort in order to achieve some value. In this usage, technology refers to tools and machines that may be used to solve real-world problems, it is a far-reaching term that may include simple tools, such as a crowbar or wooden spoon, or more complex machines, such as a space station or particle accelerator.
Tools and machines need not be material. W. Brian Arthur defines technology in a broad way as "a means to fulfill a human purpose."The word "technology" can be used to refer to a collection of techniques. In this context, it is the current state of humanity's knowledge of how to combine resources to produce desired products, to solve problems, fulfill needs, or satisfy wants; when combined with another term, such as "medical technology" or "space technology," it refers to the state of the respective field's knowledge and tools. "State-of-the-art technology" refers to the high technology available to humanity in any field. Technology can be viewed as an activity that changes culture. Additionally, technology is the application of math, science, an
Bow and arrow
The bow and arrow is a ranged weapon system consisting of an elastic launching device and long-shafted projectiles. Archery is the practice, or skill of using bows to shoot arrows. A person who shoots arrows with a bow is called an archer. Someone who makes bows is known as a bowyer, one who makes arrows is a fletcher, one who manufactures metal arrowheads is an arrowsmith; the use of bows and arrows by humans for hunting predates recorded history and was common to many prehistoric cultures. They were important weapons of war from ancient history until the early modern period, where they were rendered obsolete by the development of the more powerful and accurate firearms, were dropped from warfare. Today and arrows are used for hunting and sports. A bow consists of a semi-rigid but elastic arc with a high-tensile bowstring joining the ends of the two limbs of the bow. An arrow is a projectile with a pointed tip and a long shaft with stabilizer fins towards the back, with a narrow notch at the end to contact the bowstring.
To load an arrow for shooting, the archer places an arrow across the middle of the bow with the bowstring in the arrow's nock. To shoot, the archer pulls back the arrow and the bowstring, which in turn flexes the bow limbs, storing elastic energy. While maintaining the draw, the archer sights along the arrow to aim it; the archer releases the arrow, allowing the limbs' stored potential energy to convert into kinetic energy, transmitted via the bowstring to the arrow, propelling it to fly forward with high velocity. A container or bag for additional arrows for quick reloading is called a quiver; when not in use, bows are kept unstrung, meaning one or both ends of the bowstring are detached from the bow. This removes all residual tension on the bow, can help prevent it from losing strength or elasticity over time. For many bow designs, this lets it straighten out more reducing the space needed to store the bow. Returning the bowstring to its ready-to-use position is called stringing the bow; the bow and arrow appears around the transition from the Upper Paleolithic to the Mesolithic.
After the end of the last glacial period, use of the bow seems to have spread to every inhabited region, except for Australasia and most of Oceania. The earliest definite remains of bow and arrow are from Europe. Possible fragments from Germany were found at Mannheim-Vogelstang dated 17,500-18,000 years ago, at Stellmoor dated 11,000 years ago. Azilian points found in Grotte du Bichon, alongside the remains of both a bear and a hunter, with flint fragments found in the bear's third vertebra, suggest the use of arrows at 13,500 years ago. At the site of Nataruk in Turkana County, obsidian bladelets found embedded in a skull and within the thoracic cavity of another skeleton, suggest the use of stone-tipped arrows as weapons about 10,000 years ago. Microliths discovered on the south coast of Africa suggest that projectile weapons of some sort may be at least 71,000 years old; the oldest extant bows in one piece are the elm Holmegaard bows from Denmark which were dated to 9,000 BCE. Several bows from Holmegaard, date 8,000 years ago.
High-performance wooden bows are made following the Holmegaard design. The Stellmoor bow fragments from northern Germany were dated to about 8,000 BCE, but they were destroyed in Hamburg during the Second World War, before carbon 14 dating was available; the bow was an important weapon for both hunting and warfare from prehistoric times until the widespread use of gunpowder in the 16th century. Organised warfare with bows ended in the mid 17th century in Europe, but it persisted into the early 19th century in Eastern cultures and in hunting and tribal warfare in the New World. In the Canadian Arctic bows were made until the end of the 20th century for hunting caribou, for instance at Igloolik; the bow has more been used as a weapon of tribal warfare in some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. The British upper class led a revival of archery from the late 18th century. Sir Ashton Lever, an antiquarian and collector, formed the Toxophilite Society in London in 1781, under the patronage of George Prince of Wales.
The basic elements of a bow are a pair of curved elastic limbs, traditionally made from wood, joined by a riser. Both ends of the limbs are connected by a string known as the bow string. By pulling the string backwards the archer exerts compressive force on the string-facing section, or belly, of the limbs as well as placing the outer section, or back, under tension. While the string is held, this stores the energy released in putting the arrow to flight; the force required to hold the string stationary at full draw is used to express the power of a bow, is known as its draw weight, or weight. Other things being equal, a higher draw weight means a more powerful bow, able to project heavier arrows at the same velocity or the same arrow at a greater velocity; the various parts of the bow can be subdivided into further sections. The topmost limb is known as the upper limb. At the tip of each limb is a nock, used to attach the bowstring to the limbs; the riser is divided into the grip, held by the archer, as well as the arrow rest and the bow window.
The arrow rest is a small ledge or extension above the grip which the arrow rests upon while being aimed. The bow window is that part of the
History of technology
The history of technology is the history of the invention of tools and techniques and is one of the categories of the history of humanity. Technology can refer to methods ranging from as simple as stone tools to the complex genetic engineering and information technology that has emerged since the 1980s; the term technology comes from the Greek word techne, meaning art and craft, the word logos, meaning word and speech. It was first used to describe applied arts, but it is now used to described advancements and changes which affect the environment around us. New knowledge has enabled people to create new things, conversely, many scientific endeavors are made possible by technologies which assist humans in traveling to places they could not reach, by scientific instruments by which we study nature in more detail than our natural senses allow. Since much of technology is applied science, technical history is connected to the history of science. Since technology uses resources, technical history is connected to economic history.
From those resources, technology produces other resources, including technological artifacts used in everyday life. Technological change affects and is affected by, a society's cultural traditions, it is a force for economic growth and a means to develop and project economic, military power and wealth. Many sociologists and anthropologists have created social theories dealing with social and cultural evolution. Some, like Lewis H. Morgan, Leslie White, Gerhard Lenski have declared technological progress to be the primary factor driving the development of human civilization. Morgan's concept of three major stages of social evolution can be divided by technological milestones, such as fire. White argued. For White, "the primary function of culture" is to "harness and control energy." White differentiates between five stages of human development: In the first, people use the energy of their own muscles. In the second, they use the energy of domesticated animals. In the third, they use the energy of plants.
In the fourth, they learn to use the energy of natural resources: coal, gas. In the fifth, they harness nuclear energy. White introduced a formula P=E*T, where E is a measure of energy consumed, T is the measure of the efficiency of technical factors using the energy. In his own words, "culture evolves as the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year is increased, or as the efficiency of the instrumental means of putting the energy to work is increased". Nikolai Kardashev extrapolated his theory, creating the Kardashev scale, which categorizes the energy use of advanced civilizations. Lenski's approach focuses on information; the more information and knowledge a given society has, the more advanced. He identifies four stages of human development, based on advances in the history of communication. In the first stage, information is passed by genes. In the second, when humans gain sentience, they can pass information through experience. In the third, the humans start develop logic. In the fourth, they can develop language and writing.
Advancements in communications technology translate into advancements in the economic system and political system, distribution of wealth, social inequality and other spheres of social life. He differentiates societies based on their level of technology and economy: hunter-gatherer, simple agricultural, advanced agricultural, special. In economics, productivity is a measure of technological progress. Productivity increases. Another indicator of technological progress is the development of new products and services, necessary to offset unemployment that would otherwise result as labor inputs are reduced. In developed countries productivity growth has been slowing since the late 1970s. For example, employment in manufacturing in the United States declined from over 30% in the 1940s to just over 10% 70 years later. Similar changes occurred in other developed countries; this stage is referred to as post-industrial. In the late 1970s sociologists and anthropologists like Alvin Toffler, Daniel Bell and John Naisbitt have approached the theories of post-industrial societies, arguing that the current era of industrial society is coming to an end, services and information are becoming more important than industry and goods.
Some extreme visions of the post-industrial society in fiction, are strikingly similar to the visions of near and post-Singularity societies. The following is a summary of the history of technology by time period and geography: During most of the Paleolithic – the bulk of the Stone Age – all humans had a lifestyle which involved limited tools and few permanent settlements; the first major technologies were tied to survival and food preparation. Stone tools and weapons and clothing were technological developments of major importance during this period. Human ancestors have been using stone and other tools since long before the emergence of Homo sapiens 200,000 years ago; the earliest methods of stone tool making, known as the Oldowan "industry", date back to at least 2.3 million years ago, with the earliest direct evidence of tool usage found in Ethiopia within the Great Rift Valley, dating back to 2.5 million years ago. This era of stone tool use is called the Paleolithic
A metate or metlatl is a type or variety of quern, a ground stone tool used for processing grain and seeds. In traditional Mesoamerican culture, metates were used by women who would grind lime-treated maize and other organic materials during food preparation. Similar artifacts are found all over the world, including China. While varying in specific morphology, metates adhere to a common shape, they consist of large stones with a smooth depression or bowl worn into the upper surface. The bowl is formed by the continual and long-term grinding of materials using a smooth hand-held stone; this action consists of a horizontal grinding motion that differs from the vertical crushing motion used in a mortar and pestle. The depth of the bowl varies, though they are not deeper than those of a mortar; the specific angles of the metate body allow for a proficient method of turning grains into flour. Another type of metate called a grinding slab may be found among boulder or exposed bedrock outcroppings; the upper face of the stone is used for grinding materials, such as acorns, that results in the smoothing of the stone's face and the creation of pocked dimples.
Carved, volcanic-stone ceremonial metates represent one of the most unusual and complex traditions of pre-Columbian artifacts from Costa Rica. They come in many different forms, morphological variation corresponds to different regions and time periods, they can be rectangular, flat, or curved. They may not have rims and between three and four legs; some exhibits show signs of use-wear while others show no signs of wear and appear to have been made for use as burial goods. Some examples characterized as metate might have been a type of throne for sitting on – not a metate at all; some examples are known as effigy-headed metate, which feature an animal’s head at one end, with the metate itself making up the body of the creature. Animals depicted are jaguar, crocodile or birds; the most complex type of ceremonial metate is the class referred to as “flying-panel” metate. This style comes from the Atlantic watershed region, including the City of Guayabo and represents a high level of craftsmanship and complexity.
Carved from a single piece of stone, these metates contain multiple figures, both underneath the plate and on the legs. Trophy heads, jaguar and saurian figures are the most common themes; the “flying panel” metate is believed to be the precursor to free standing sculptural figures more common in the Atlantic watershed region. The earliest traditions of stone sculpture in Costa Rica, including ceremonial metate, began in late Period IV. Metate rimless plates; those from the Atlantic Watershed have a plate, horizontally flat and rimmed. Both are associated with mortuary goods, suggesting differential social status existed within these communities; the three main types of Costa Rican stone sculpture at this time—tripod-metate, mace heads and jade “axe-god” pendants—peaked and declined in use during Period V. Stone sculpture was never popular again in the Nicoya/Guanacaste region, but in the Atlantic Watershed by Period VI, freestanding figural sculpture and new forms of ceremonial metate came into use.
These new metate types might be rectangular with four legs like the jaguar effigy-head examples or might be round in shape with a pedestal base. These latter types have carved human heads around the rim implying a relationship with ritual trophy-head taking; this particular form of metate seems to have been influenced by the stone sculptures of the Panamanian site of Barriles. At the site of Las Huacas, fifteen metates were excavated from sixteen graves. None of these metates had manos, suggesting that the carved metate as a mortuary object had a deeper symbolic meaning than just the processing of foodstuffs; the metate's basic mechanical purpose is a platform. This transformation of grain to flour has symbolic implications relating to life and rebirth, it is still not clear if maize was a main source of sustenance, it is possible that maize was reserved for making chicha, for use in ritual feasting activities. Given their role as a burial good, it seems that metate held a strong meaning for human life and the hope for a rebirth or transformation of some kind.
The three most popular iconographic elements of ceremonial metate seem to be saurian and jaguar creatures. Monkeys are common. A unique feature of ceremonial metate is the lack of human figures. Disembodied heads are the sole exception. While human figures become the main subject of the free standing sculptures, which depict nude females or male warriors with trophy heads and bound male captives, these do not seem to have been depicted on metate. Flying-panel metates have anthropomorphic figures, but these always have animal heads. In both the Nicoya and Atlantic-Watershed regions, metates are made with saurian imagery, it is thought that the saurian represents the surface of the earth, which relates to agricultural fertility. One of the oldest and most prominent themes in Chibcha art is that of the Crocodile god. Depicted as an anthropomorphic being with a crocodile head, he has been carved into fly-panel metates, sometimes shown standing on a double-headed saurian and other times on a jaguar.
As a symbol, the do