The Thread Age

I'm a little more than half-way through George Dyson's Analogia and had to take note of a passage that struck me:

The Stone Age is termed the Stone Age not because stone tools were the most advanced technology in the Paleolithic tool kit but because they are the best preserved. Lashing, sewing, and weaving were as sophisticated as the fabrication of edge tools, but only an indirect record has endured.

Tying things together is as important as cutting them apart. A knot can be as useful as a knife; a net can be as effective as a spear. The tensile arts were not so much invited as adopted: from vines hanging in the forest, sinews exposed when animals were dismembered, hides stretched out when they were skinned, beach grass weaving the idea of basketry in the wind. Net making is as old as the spider's web.

The introduction of bifacial, fluted stone points, culminating in the Clovis tradition that flourished across North America at the close of the Pleistocene, was as much an advance in the art of hafting these points to the weapons that delivered them as it was an advance in the working of the stone itself. It was lashing and sewing, as much as fire and flint, that enabled the human species to span the earth.

This threw me for a loop. It never occurred to me that the nominal foundation of the Stone Age is based on preservation rather than sophistication. I equated the Stone Age with stone being the chief innovation, but Dyson makes me think about the lashing and sewing that tied the stone to a shaft. Even exploring the hafting Wikipedia entry echoes Dysons observation about the importance of threading in Prehistory:

Hafting stone points, in particular, was an important advancement in the weapons of early humans. These hafted stone points increased the force and effectiveness of these tools, therefore, allowing people to hunt and kill animals more efficiently. The increased efficiency of hunting and killing animals is believed to have allowed for people of this time to have regular access to meat and other high-quality foods. The increase in the consumption of meat around this time could be directly linked to increases in brain size that are reported in the archaeology record of this time. The invention of hafting by people more than hundreds of thousands of years ago has directly contributed to the health and lives of people in the past and also people in the future

The weaving of our ancestors helped us to weave the threads of today and of futures to come. Puts things into perspective.