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
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
History of agriculture
The history of agriculture records the domestication of plants and animals and the development and dissemination of techniques for raising them productively. Agriculture began independently in different parts of the globe, included a diverse range of taxa. At least eleven separate regions of the Old and New World were involved as independent centers of origin. Wild grains were collected and eaten from at least 20,000 BC. From around 9500 BC, the eight Neolithic founder crops – emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, hulled barley, lentils, bitter vetch, chick peas, flax – were cultivated in the Levant. Rye may have been cultivated earlier but this remains controversial. Rice was domesticated in China by 6200 BC with earliest known cultivation from 5700 BC, followed by mung and azuki beans. Pigs were domesticated in Mesopotamia around 11,000 BC, followed by sheep between 11,000 BC and 9000 BC. Cattle were domesticated from the wild aurochs in the areas of modern Turkey and Pakistan around 8500 BC. Sugarcane and some root vegetables were domesticated in New Guinea around 7000 BC.
Sorghum was domesticated in the Sahel region of Africa by 5000 BC. In the Andes of South America, the potato was domesticated between 8000 BC and 5000 BC, along with beans, llamas and guinea pigs. Bananas were hybridized in the same period in Papua New Guinea. In Mesoamerica, wild teosinte was domesticated to maize by 4000 BC. Cotton was domesticated in Peru by 3600 BC. Camels were domesticated late around 3000 BC; the Bronze Age, from c. 3300 BC, witnessed the intensification of agriculture in civilizations such as Mesopotamian Sumer, ancient Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilisation of South Asia, ancient China, ancient Greece. During the Iron Age and era of classical antiquity, the expansion of ancient Rome, both the Republic and the Empire, throughout the ancient Mediterranean and Western Europe built upon existing systems of agriculture while establishing the manorial system that became a bedrock of medieval agriculture. In the Middle Ages, both in the Islamic world and in Europe, agriculture was transformed with improved techniques and the diffusion of crop plants, including the introduction of sugar, rice and fruit trees such as the orange to Europe by way of Al-Andalus.
After the voyages of Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Columbian exchange brought New World crops such as maize, sweet potatoes, manioc to Europe, Old World crops such as wheat, barley and turnips, livestock including horses, cattle and goats to the Americas. Irrigation, crop rotation, fertilizers were introduced soon after the Neolithic Revolution and developed much further in the past 200 years, starting with the British Agricultural Revolution. Since 1900, agriculture in the developed nations, to a lesser extent in the developing world, has seen large rises in productivity as human labour has been replaced by mechanization, assisted by synthetic fertilizers and selective breeding; the Haber-Bosch process allowed the synthesis of ammonium nitrate fertilizer on an industrial scale increasing crop yields. Modern agriculture has raised social and environmental issues including water pollution, genetically modified organisms and farm subsidies. In response, organic farming developed in the twentieth century as an alternative to the use of synthetic pesticides.
Scholars have developed a number of hypotheses to explain the historical origins of agriculture. Studies of the transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies indicate an antecedent period of intensification and increasing sedentism. Current models indicate that wild stands, harvested started to be planted, but were not domesticated. Localised climate change is the favoured explanation for the origins of agriculture in the Levant; when major climate change took place after the last ice age, much of the earth became subject to long dry seasons. These conditions favoured annual plants which die off in the long dry season, leaving a dormant seed or tuber. An abundance of storable wild grains and pulses enabled hunter-gatherers in some areas to form the first settled villages at this time. Early people began altering communities of flora and fauna for their own benefit through means such as fire-stick farming and forest gardening early. Exact dates are hard to determine, as people collected and ate seeds before domesticating them, plant characteristics may have changed during this period without human selection.
An example is the semi-tough rachis and larger seeds of cereals from just after the Younger Dryas in the early Holocene in the Levant region of the Fertile Crescent. Monophyletic characteristics were attained without any human intervention, implying that apparent domestication of the cereal rachis could have occurred quite naturally. Agriculture began independently in different parts of the globe, included a diverse range of taxa. At least 11 separate regions of the Old and New World were involved as independent centers of origin; some of the earliest known domestications were of animals. Domestic pigs had multiple centres of origin in Eurasia, including Europe, East Asia and Southwest Asia, where wild boar were first domesticated about 10,500 years ago. Sheep were domesticated in Mesopotamia between 11,000 BC and 9000 BC. Cattle were domesticated from the wild aurochs in the areas of modern Turkey and Pakistan around 8500 BC. Camels were domesticated late around 3000 BC, it was not until after 9500 BC that the eight so-called founder crops of agriculture appear: first emmer and einkorn wheat hulled barley, lenti
Pottery is the process of forming vessels and other objects with clay and other ceramic materials, which are fired to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include earthenware and porcelain; the place where such wares are made by a potter is called a pottery. The definition of pottery used by the American Society for Testing and Materials, is "all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical and refractory products." In archaeology of ancient and prehistoric periods, "pottery" means vessels only, figures etc. of the same material are called "terracottas". Clay as a part of the materials used is required by some definitions of pottery, but this is dubious. Pottery is one of the oldest human inventions, originating before the Neolithic period, with ceramic objects like the Gravettian culture Venus of Dolní Věstonice figurine discovered in the Czech Republic dating back to 29,000–25,000 BC, pottery vessels that were discovered in Jiangxi, which date back to 18,000 BC.
Early Neolithic pottery artefacts have been found in places such as Jōmon Japan, the Russian Far East, Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. Pottery is made by forming a ceramic body into objects of a desired shape and heating them to high temperatures in a kiln and induces reactions that lead to permanent changes including increasing the strength and solidity of the object's shape. Much pottery is purely utilitarian, but much can be regarded as ceramic art. A clay body can be decorated after firing. Clay-based pottery can divided in three main groups: earthenware and porcelain; these require more specific clay material, higher firing temperatures. All three are made for different purposes. All may be decorated by various techniques. In many examples the group a piece belongs to is visually apparent, but this is not always the case; the fritware of the Islamic world does not use clay, so technically falls outside these groups. Historic pottery of all these types is grouped as either "fine" wares expensive and well-made, following the aesthetic taste of the culture concerned, or alternatively "coarse", "popular" "folk" or "village" wares undecorated, or so, less well-made.
All the earliest forms of pottery were made from clays that were fired at low temperatures in pit-fires or in open bonfires. They were hand undecorated. Earthenware can be fired as low as 600°C, is fired below 1200°C; because unglazed biscuit earthenware is porous, it has limited utility for the storage of liquids, eating off. However, earthenware has a continuous history from the Neolithic period to today, it can be made from a wide variety of clays, some of which fire to a buff, brown or black colour, with iron in the constituent minerals resulting in a reddish-brown. Reddish coloured varieties are called terracotta when unglazed or used for sculpture; the development of ceramic glaze which makes it impermeable makes it a popular and practical form of pottery. The addition of decoration has evolved throughout its history. Stoneware is pottery, fired in a kiln at a high temperature, from about 1,100°C to 1,200°C, is stronger and non-porous to liquids; the Chinese, who developed stoneware early on, classify this together with porcelain as high-fired wares.
In contrast, stoneware could only be produced in Europe from the late Middle Ages, as European kilns were less efficient, the right sorts of clay less common. It remained a speciality of Germany until the Renaissance. Stoneware is tough and practical, much of it has always been utilitarian, for the kitchen or storage rather than the table, but "fine" stoneware has been important in China and the West, continues to be made. Many utilitarian types have come to be appreciated as art. Porcelain is made by heating materials including kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 °C; this is higher than used for the other types, achieving these temperatures was a long struggle, as well as realizing what materials were needed. The toughness and translucence of porcelain, relative to other types of pottery, arises from vitrification and the formation of the mineral mullite within the body at these high temperatures. Although porcelain was first made in China, the Chinese traditionally do not recognise it as a distinct category, grouping it with stoneware as "high-fired" ware, opposed to "low-fired" earthenware.
This confuses the issue of. A degree of translucency and whiteness was achieved by the Tang Dynasty, considerable quantities were being exported; the modern level of whiteness was not reached until much in the 14th century. Porcelain was made in Korea and in Japan from the end of the 16th century, after suitable kaolin was located in those countries, it was not made outside East Asia until the 18th century. Before being shaped, clay must be prepared. Kneading helps to ensure an moisture content throughout the body. Air trapped within the clay body needs to be removed; this is called de-airing and can be accomplished either by a machine called a vacuum pug or manually by wedging. Wedging can help produce an moisture content. Once a clay body has been kneaded and de-aired or wedged, it is shaped by a variety of techniques. After it has been shaped, it is dried and fired. Greenware refers to unfired objects. At sufficient moisture content, bodies at this stage are in their most plastic form (as they are soft and mal
The Neolithic, the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first development of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, in other parts of the world. The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago, marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development, although this term may not be used, until European contact; the Neolithic comprises a progression of behavioral and cultural characteristics and changes, including the use of wild and domestic crops and of domesticated animals. The term Neolithic derives from the Greek νέος néos, "new" and λίθος líthos, "stone" meaning "New Stone Age"; the term was coined by Sir John Lubbock in 1865 as a refinement of the three-age system. Following the ASPRO chronology, the Neolithic started in around 10,200 BC in the Levant, arising from the Natufian culture, when pioneering use of wild cereals evolved into early farming.
The Natufian period or "proto-Neolithic" lasted from 12,500 to 9,500 BC, is taken to overlap with the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of 10,200–8800 BC. As the Natufians had become dependent on wild cereals in their diet, a sedentary way of life had begun among them, the climatic changes associated with the Younger Dryas are thought to have forced people to develop farming. By 10,200–8800 BC farming communities had arisen in the Levant and spread to Asia Minor, North Africa and North Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC. Early Neolithic farming was limited to a narrow range of plants, both wild and domesticated, which included einkorn wheat and spelt, the keeping of dogs and goats. By about 6900–6400 BC, it included domesticated cattle and pigs, the establishment of permanently or seasonally inhabited settlements, the use of pottery. Not all of these cultural elements characteristic of the Neolithic appeared everywhere in the same order: the earliest farming societies in the Near East did not use pottery.
In other parts of the world, such as Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, independent domestication events led to their own regionally distinctive Neolithic cultures, which arose independently of those in Europe and Southwest Asia. Early Japanese societies and other East Asian cultures used pottery before developing agriculture. In the Middle East, cultures identified as Neolithic began appearing in the 10th millennium BC. Early development occurred from there spread eastwards and westwards. Neolithic cultures are attested in southeastern Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia by around 8000 BC; the prehistoric Beifudi site near Yixian in Hebei Province, contains relics of a culture contemporaneous with the Cishan and Xinglongwa cultures of about 6000–5000 BC, neolithic cultures east of the Taihang Mountains, filling in an archaeological gap between the two Northern Chinese cultures. The total excavated area is more than 1,200 square yards, the collection of neolithic findings at the site encompasses two phases.
The Neolithic 1 period began around 10,000 BC in the Levant. A temple area in southeastern Turkey at Göbekli Tepe, dated to around 9500 BC, may be regarded as the beginning of the period; this site was developed by nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes, as evidenced by the lack of permanent housing in the vicinity, may be the oldest known human-made place of worship. At least seven stone circles, covering 25 acres, contain limestone pillars carved with animals and birds. Stone tools were used by as many as hundreds of people to create the pillars, which might have supported roofs. Other early PPNA sites dating to around 9500–9000 BC have been found in Jericho, West Bank, Gilgal in the Jordan Valley, Byblos, Lebanon; the start of Neolithic 1 overlaps the Heavy Neolithic periods to some degree. The major advance of Neolithic 1 was true farming. In the proto-Neolithic Natufian cultures, wild cereals were harvested, early seed selection and re-seeding occurred; the grain was ground into flour. Emmer wheat was domesticated, animals were herded and domesticated.
In 2006, remains of figs were discovered in a house in Jericho dated to 9400 BC. The figs are of a mutant variety that cannot be pollinated by insects, therefore the trees can only reproduce from cuttings; this evidence suggests that figs were the first cultivated crop and mark the invention of the technology of farming. This occurred centuries before the first cultivation of grains. Settlements became more permanent, with circular houses, much like those of the Natufians, with single rooms. However, these houses were for the first time made of mudbrick; the settlement had a surrounding stone wall and a stone tower. The wall served as protection from nearby groups, as protection from floods, or to keep animals penned; some of the enclosures suggest grain and meat storage. The Neolithic 2 began around 8800 BC according to the ASPRO chronology in the Levant; as with the PPNA dates, there are two versions from the same laboratories noted above. This system of terminology, however, is not convenient for southeast Anatolia and settlements of the middle Anatolia basin.
A settlement of 3,000 inhabitants was found in th
A granary is a storehouse or room in a barn for threshed grain or animal feed. Ancient or primitive granaries are most made out of pottery. Granaries are built above the ground to keep the stored food away from mice and other animals. From ancient times grain has been stored in bulk; the oldest granaries yet found date back to 9500 BC and are located in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A settlements in the Jordan Valley. The first were located in places between other buildings; however beginning around 8500 BC, they were moved inside houses, by 7500 BC storage occurred in special rooms. The first granaries measured 3 x 3 m on the outside and had suspended floors that protected the grain from rodents and insects and provided air circulation; these granaries are followed by those in Mehrgarh in the Indus Valley from 6000 BC. The ancient Egyptians made a practice of preserving grain in years of plenty against years of scarcity; the climate of Egypt being dry, grain could be stored in pits for a long time without discernible loss of quality.
A silo was a pit for storing grain. It is distinct from a granary, an above-ground structure. Simple storage granaries raised up on four or more posts appeared in the Yangshao culture in China and after the onset of intensive agriculture in the Korean peninsula during the Mumun pottery period as well as in the Japanese archipelago during the Final Jōmon/Early Yayoi periods. In the archaeological vernacular of Northeast Asia, these features are lumped with those that may have functioned as residences and together are called'raised floor buildings'. In vernacular architecture of Indonesian archipelago granaries are made of wood and bamboo materials and most of them are built raised up on four or more posts to avoid rodents and insects. Examples of Indonesian granary is Sundanese Minang rangkiang. In Great Britain small granaries were built on mushroom-shaped stumps called staddle stones, they were built of timber frame construction and had slate roofs. Larger ones were similar to linhays, but with the upper floor enclosed.
Access to the first floor was via stone staircase on the outside wall. Towards the close of the 19th century, warehouses specially intended for holding grain began to multiply in Great Britain. There are climatic difficulties in the way of storing grain in Great Britain on a large scale, but these difficulties have been overcome. Modern grain farming operations use manufactured steel granaries to store grain on-site until it can be trucked to major storage facilities in anticipation of shipping; the large mechanized facilities seen in Russia and North America are known as grain elevators. Grain must be kept away from moisture for as long as possible to preserve it in good condition and prevent mold growth. Newly harvested grain brought into a granary tends to contain excess moisture, which encourages mold growth leading to fermentation and heating, both of which are undesirable and affect quality. Fermentation spoils grain and may cause chemical changes that create poisonous mycotoxins. One traditional remedy is to spread the grain in thin layers on a floor, where it is turned to aerate it thoroughly.
Once the grain is sufficiently dry it can be transferred to a granary for storage. A modern variation on this, is to use a grain auger to move grain stored in one granary to another. In modern silos, grain is force-aerated in situ or circulated through external grain drying equipment. Hórreo Raccard Storage silo Corn crib Groote Schuur, the stately South African home was a granary. Rice barn Treppenspeicher Ghorfa Parish granary
A sickle, bagging hook or reaping-hook, is a hand-held agricultural tool designed with variously curved blades and used for harvesting, or reaping, grain crops or cutting succulent forage chiefly for feeding livestock, either freshly cut or dried as hay. Falx was a synonym but was used to mean any of a number of tools that had a curved blade, sharp on the inside edge such as a scythe. Since the beginning of the Iron Age hundreds of region-specific variants of the sickle have evolved of iron and steel; this great diversity of sickle types across many cultures can be divided into smooth or serrated blades, both of which can be used for cutting either green grass or mature cereals using different techniques. The serrated blade that originated in prehistoric sickles still dominates in the reaping of grain and is found in modern grain-harvesting machines and in some kitchen knives; the development of the sickle in Mesopotamia can be traced back to times that pre-date the Neolithic Era. Large quantities of sickle blades have been excavated in sites surrounding Israel that have been dated to the Epipaleolithic era.
Formal digs in Wadi Ziqlab, Jordan have unearthed various forms of early sickle blades. The artifacts possessed a jagged edge; this intricate ‘tooth-like’ design showed a greater degree of design and manufacturing credence than most of the other artifacts that were discovered. Sickle blades found during this time were made of flint and used in more of a sawing motion than with the more modern curved design. Flints from these sickles have been discovered near Mt. Carmel, which suggest the harvesting of grains from the area about 10,000 years ago; the sickle had a profound impact on the Agricultural Revolution by assisting in the transition to farming and crop based lifestyle. It is now accepted that the use of sickles led directly to the domestication of Near Eastern Wild grasses. Research on domestication rates of wild cereals under primitive cultivation found that the use of the sickle in harvesting was critical to the people of early Mesopotamia; the narrow growing season in the area and the critical role of grain in the late Neolithic Era promoted a larger investment in the design and manufacture of sickle over other tools.
Standardization to an extent was done on the measurements of the sickle so that replacement or repair could be more immediate. It was important that the grain be harvested at the appropriate time at one elevation so that the next elevation could be reaped at the proper time; the sickle provided a more efficient option in collecting the grain and sped up the developments of early agriculture. The sickle remained common both in the Ancient Near East and in Europe. Numerous sickles have been found deposited in hoards in the context of the European Urnfield culture, suggesting a symbolic or religious significance attached to the artifact. In archaeological terminology, Bronze Age sickles are classified by the method of attaching the handle. E.g. the knob-sickle is so called because of a protruding knob at the base of the blade which served to stabilize the attachment of the blade to the handle. The sickle played a prominent role in the Druids' Ritual of oak and mistletoe as described from a single passage in Pliny the Elder's Natural History: Due to this passage, despite the fact that Pliny does not indicate the source on which he based this account, some branches of modern Druidry have adopted the sickle as a ritual tool.
The sickle has been discovered in southwest North America with a unique structure. These sickles are said to have originated from the Far East. There is evidence that Kodiak islanders had for cutting grass “sickles made of a sharpened animal shoulder blade”; the artifacts found in present-day Arizona and New Mexico resemble curved tools that were made from the horns of mountain sheep. A similar site discovered sickles made from other material such as the Caddo Sickle, made from a deer mandible. Scripture from early natives document the use of these sickles in the cutting of grass; the instruments ranged from 13 to 16 inches tip to tip. Several other digs in eastern Arizona uncovered wooden sickles that were shaped in a similar fashion; the handles of the tools help describe how the tool was held in such a way so that the inner portion that contained the cutting surface could serve as a gathering surface for the grain. Sickles were sharpened by scraping a shape beveled edge with a coarse tool; this action has left marks on artifacts.
The sharpening process was necessary to keep the cutting edge from being dulled after extended use. The edge is seen to be quite polished, which in part proves that the instrument was used to cut grass. After collection, the grass was used as material to create bedding; the sickle in general provided the convenience of cutting the grass as well as gathering in one step. In South America, the sickle is used as a tool to harvest rice. Rice clusters are left to dry in the sun; the genealogy of sickles with serrated edge reaches back to the Stone Age, when individual pieces of flint were first attached to a “blade body” of wood or bone. Teeth have been cut with hand-held chisels into iron, steel-bladed sickles for a long time. In many countries on the African continent and South America as well as the Near and Far East this is still the case in the regions within these large geographies where the traditional village blacksmith remains alive and well. En