Evidence Suggests Recycling May Have Started With Early Hominids
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redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Despite the general perception that recycling is a fairly modern phenomenon, there is growing evidence it dates back to the days of the early hominids, researchers said this week during a four-day conference at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
“For the first time we are revealing the extent of this phenomenon, both in terms of the amount of recycling that went on and the different methods used,” Ran Barkai, an archaeologist at the university and one of the organizers of the “Origins of Recycling” event, told Ariel David of the Associated Press (AP).
In fact, according to Barkai, there is more and more evidence suggesting the prehistoric predecessors of modern man started recycling discarded or broken tools made out of flint and/or bone. They would use materials from those objects to create new utensils, he told the AP, adding that the behavior “appeared at different times, in different places, with different methods according to the context and the availability of raw materials.”
According to Daily Mail reporter Ellie Zolfagharifard, researchers have found clues suggesting the presence of recycling as far back as over one million years ago, with evidence suggesting cavemen living in Spain, Italy, Israel and North Africa had all adopted the practice as a basic part of their daily lives.
The conference, which lasted from October 7 through October 10, featured more than 40 scholars from 10 different countries, according to Time.com. During the four-day event, the experts shared evidence demonstrating that ancient hominids such as Homo erectus and Neanderthals used these recycled tools as a means to help them survive.
Among the information presented were findings in Fuente Nueva, near a prehistoric lake in the southern part of Spain, suggesting the recycling may have already been adopted in some situations as far back as 1.3 million years ago, as well as bone tools collected from a dry pond in Castel di Guido, near Rome, which led experts to believe that the practice may have become commonplace up to 300,000 years ago.
“Why do we recycle plastic? To conserve energy and raw materials,” Avi Gopher, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University, told the Daily Mail. “In the same way, if you recycled flint you didn’t have to go all the way to the quarry to get more, so you conserved your energy and saved on the material.”
“It is very useful to think about prehistoric recycling,” added Loyola University anthropology professor Daniel Amick. “But I think that when they recycled they did so on an ‘ad hoc’ basis, when the need arose.”