Oldest Twine Dates Back to Stone Age : Discovery News

I'm intrigued by this story from the Discovery Channel website for two reasons:

  1. It's the first time in a while they've managed to send me an archaeology story via RSS feed versus a paleontology story.  Confusion of the two very different disciplines by people who really ought to know better (like a television network that at least claims to be "scientific" in between showings of the latest UFO theories and exploitative documentaries about obese people) is one of my pet peeves.  Seriously.  Digging for dinosaurs is not the same as digging for people.  Unless you attended Bob Jones University.
  2. It's about fiber and archaeology.
Anyway, this is an interesting story if only because Bruce Bower (who has the by-line) actually did what a journalist should do and interviewed multiple experts.  He talked to the excavators and the authors of the report and also talked to other experts in the field.  You would be amazed how rarely this actually happens.  And Irene Good (one of the other experts consulted) pointed out that we should probably be a little cautious about conclusions without doing a bit more research and seeking more evidence.  In particular, more and more intact flax fibers and more evidence of dyeing.  Oddly, Good also suggests that impressions on ceramics would also be good evidence and while she's technically correct, as far as I know fired-clay is not particularly common from European Upper Paleolithic contexts nor is there a great deal of evidence for deliberately fired pottery being produced during the Upper Paleolithic.  There is the occasional accidentally fired piece or pieces in caves, though.
In fact, in the Near East at least, one of the major characteristics dividing the Paleolithic and the Neolithic is production of pottery.  Weird.

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