Science Diary: Exploring Tibet-Stone Tools

Ambience: Flint knapping

Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Mark Aldenderfer is an Anthropologist at the University of Arizona. He’s in Western Tibet studying archaeological sites, looking for clues about the early peoples who inhabited this region.

“When thinking about the early pre-history of the Tibetan plateau, the only really surviving material that will be found in great abundance is stone. Stone used to make other kinds of tools, or the stone that results from the debris from making stone tools.”

Ambience: Flint knapping

That’s the sound of flint knapping, the process of making the kind of stone tools that Mark Aldenderfer has been finding in Tibet.

“Yesterday we were in a canyon that fed into a river; this day we took a look at some of the high terraces above the river. Both of the terraces had very large amounts of cultural material on them. Almost all of it was of the timeframe I’m interested in studying. There’s a wide variety of different kinds of ways of making stone tools at this site as well. That is, there are tools that are called microliths, which are small pieces of stone that have been flaked and then usually are taken and placed on a wooden or bone or perhaps antler shaft and used for a spear or some kind of cutting purpose. So we saw some true microliths. And what we’re finding here is that, there’s a very significant number of sites that show different styles of making stone tools. “

The different styles of stone tools could point to different groups making tools at this location over a long period of time. Please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.
music

Science Diary: Exploring Tibet-Stone Tools

Thousands of years after they were made, the scraps from a tool-making session are found.
Air Date:06/03/2011
Scientist:
Transcript:

Ambience: Flint knapping

Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Mark Aldenderfer is an Anthropologist at the University of Arizona. He's in Western Tibet studying archaeological sites, looking for clues about the early peoples who inhabited this region.

"When thinking about the early pre-history of the Tibetan plateau, the only really surviving material that will be found in great abundance is stone. Stone used to make other kinds of tools, or the stone that results from the debris from making stone tools."

Ambience: Flint knapping

That's the sound of flint knapping, the process of making the kind of stone tools that Mark Aldenderfer has been finding in Tibet.

"Yesterday we were in a canyon that fed into a river; this day we took a look at some of the high terraces above the river. Both of the terraces had very large amounts of cultural material on them. Almost all of it was of the timeframe I'm interested in studying. There's a wide variety of different kinds of ways of making stone tools at this site as well. That is, there are tools that are called microliths, which are small pieces of stone that have been flaked and then usually are taken and placed on a wooden or bone or perhaps antler shaft and used for a spear or some kind of cutting purpose. So we saw some true microliths. And what we're finding here is that, there's a very significant number of sites that show different styles of making stone tools. "

The different styles of stone tools could point to different groups making tools at this location over a long period of time. Please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.
music