Home > 88. The Quaggas of Creativity > The Bone Needle–The Quaggas of Creativity 2

The Bone Needle–The Quaggas of Creativity 2

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RT guesses that the Quaggas of Creativity just aren’t like any other beast. He had hoped that a fine, handsome one, the Human Brain, would be his next offering on the blog. But, alas, it was not to be! The Human Brain is complicated and resists a tidy explanation, so another QofC has decided to gallop into the breach. This one, no doubt humble in appearance, will lead us into recent developments in the history of the brain and pave the way for its more obstreperous herd-mate.

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Sewing a button back onto your shirt…piece of cake, right?

The invention of the bone needle, which took place about 25,000 years ago during the Neolithic Revolution, ranks with the invention of the wheel as one of mankind’s great technological breakthroughs and remains an enduring example of the power of creativity.

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What are the dimensions of a bone needle? One needle found in the American Southwest measures 14.4 (L) x .6 (D) cm. [5.7 x .23 in.]

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How do you make a bone needle? The modern method is as follows: 1) choose the bone you want to use (say a gazelle rib bone); 2) scrape and soak the bone to prepare it for use; 3) split the bone and remove the marrow; 4) cut out the tapering needle from the bone; 5) cut an eye in one end; 6) smooth the needle to produce the finished product. Ancient people did all this with a flint blade and a piece of sandstone.

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What observations can we make about this process? Manufacturing bone needles required

1) a tool kit. Flint blades are by no means easy to produce. In other words, this process was made possible by previous inventions.

2) collaboration. Somebodies–probably not including the needle-maker–had to hunt and kill the gazelle.

3) a focused mind and fine eye-hand coordination. Only a steady hand and acute vision could produce the needle.

4) problem solving. How can we make warmer clothes so that we can settle uninhabited land?

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The finished needle opened up new possibilities: Gee, we might be able to use the needle to sew torn flesh back together. Think we can do it?

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A final thought: the sudden appearance of bone needles in the archaeological record might reflect corresponding improvements in mental function. Is there any evidence of this?

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Photo: Doublepoint Needles; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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  1. creativeisthmus
    August 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    I love it! How fascinating we’re our ancestors!

    • August 11, 2012 at 4:38 am

      CI: thanks as always for the enthusiastic feedback. fascinating and a bit humbling, this link with the past…30,000 years of progress, and I can’t sew to save my life! RT

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