The “invisible” plant technology of prehistoric people: how were the first fabrics and laces made?

A pilot study illuminating a hidden chapter in human history reveals the incredible use of plant fibers by prehistoric societies in Southeast Asia.

A research team led by Hermine Xhauflair of the University of the Philippines has found microscopic evidence of plant use that sheds light on the technological skills of prehistoric communities. The scarcity of preserved plant materials in archaeological resources, particularly in the tropics, has long hampered our understanding and study of these technologies. However, Haufler and colleagues have managed to find indirect traces of this elusive technique in Southeast Asia, pushing significantly back its chronological limits.

Focus.Technology’s own telegraph channel. Subscribe so you don’t miss the latest and exciting news from the world of science!

Researchers focused their attention on the approximately 39,000-year-old artifacts found in Tabon Cave in Palawan, Philippines. These stone tools showed direct signs of microscopic damage that persisted during use.

Realizing that modern indigenous communities in the region still use plant fibers from materials such as bamboo and palm for various purposes, scientists have tried to replicate these methods experimentally.

By removing the tough stems from plants and turning them into flexible fibers for weaving and binding, humans left a distinctive microscopic wear pattern on the stone tools they used for processing. Surprisingly, the same drawing was found on three stone artifacts found in the cave.

Together with this discovery, the work reveals one of the earliest examples of fiber technology in Southeast Asia, demonstrating the great technical expertise of prehistoric societies that flourished around 39,000 years ago.

Equally important is the methodological breakthrough the researchers achieved as it uncovered hidden remnants of ancient plant technologies. Future research promises to shed more light on the temporal boundaries and geographic distribution of these technologies, as well as whether existing traditions in this region are a continuation of an intact tradition.

The scientists state: “This study significantly expands the understanding of ancient fiber technology in Southeast Asia, thereby suggesting that prehistoric groups living in Tabon cave had the ability to make a variety of daily necessities. They weren’t just making baskets and traps. They used it to build boats, hunt for arrows, and create composite objects.”

With this explanation, the researchers draw attention to the multifaceted and irreplaceable role that ancient plant technologies played in the lives of the prehistoric inhabitants of Tabon Cave.

Previously Focus wrote about an earlier connection than the first settlements. Archaeologists have found evidence of a complex interaction between crows and humans.

We also talked about what humanoid “our” wounds were about 125,000 years ago.

Source: Focus


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here