Is This An Adz I See Before Me?

Unseasonably unwarm this morning. A mitzvah! It has been June, maybe early July, for a month now, heat-wise and now that it is really June a day of respite! Maybe.

This put me in mind of the good old days back before air conditioning, electron potential difference, and aspirin. I ran across an article [Link] on IO9 commenting on an article on PNAS (behind a paywall) about the “class”  differentiation of human society. The subject of the article is social stratification in human society in Europe circa 5.5KY BCE. Now here’s the smoking projectile emitter – the class structuring is inferred from grave goods including stone adzes!

For those who don’t know, a stone adz is the “blade” in a paleolithic/mesolithic/neolithic hoe.

And the thesis is that guys who “owned” stone adzes didn’t move around as much as guys who didn’t “own” stone adzes and hence the former were socially differentiated from the latter by the greater wealth associated with having land on which to raise crops.

Can’t argue too much directly with this. Neither the researchers U Edinburgh nor I were there then. And given the restrictions on time travel – that we know of – I am not going to “go and look see”. I would turn the thing around a bit however and observe that if one has switched from hunter-gatherer mode to sedentary mode than one needs tools to till the land and harvest the crops and all that sort of thing. But if one is still in HG mode, then one doesn’t need those tools. And folks in HG mode naturally move around a lot more than sedentary mode folks.

So while the thesis is not broken, an “alternate theory of the crime” (misusing the use of ‘theory’ horribly as the justicers do) is that the guys with adzes as grave goods had switched living modes from HG to sedentary.

So yes, regardless, there is social differentiation. The question is whether it was horizontal or vertical. That question is probably largely irrelevant to the folks back then. After all, whether HG or sedentary, the other folks were “them” and not “us”. Which in my humble opinion is neither horizontal nor vertical differentiation since it is programmed into us.

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