Before picks and other instruments came the humble digging stick

in #archaeology4 years ago (edited)

Much of Southern Africa has deep soils and as a hunter gatherer you need something to dig with, to get to all those tasty tubers, roots and animals hiding in burrows.

Sticks by themselves worked for a while, but then someone figured out that a weighted stick would work better.

That idea evolved into a large rounded stone with a hole bored into it.

Below is such a stone with a broomstick inserted through it for scale.

The above stone is actually for a stick larger in diameter than a broom stick but they are found in all shapes and sizes.

The hole is bored by using hard grit or sand and a stick as shown in the video below.

The inside of this one has been worn perfectly smooth from many years of much use.

The larger one is made of a fine grey green siltstone and the smaller one from a grittier yellow sandstone.

Both of these stones can easily be identified as having come from certain distinctive Karroo rocks that are found in the foothills of the Drakenberg Mountains.

There stones can be found hundreds of kilometers from their original point of manufacture and may be passed down from generation to generation or exchanged as highly prized gifts.

The below video shows how digging for tubers was an important part of surviving in the drier parts of the country.


I'll have to retain this in my brains memory banks, and when the massive solar flare wipes out the internet and our digital civilization, i can still get me some tubers.

Interesting Gavvet, all info about stone-use helps give more insides, i found more worked stones these last weeks and some interesting bones,
IMG 0199
stones with holes are usually done of as fishing net balances here, but getting new ideas.
Example found on the riverbed.

a very interesting way of digging - putting a stone weight higher up the handle rather than using a sharpened stone to pierce the ground. Did they use both methods?

The resilience of humans, knowing the earth untouched by the sun might be damp or contain buried tubers.

The use of sand as grit has long been used by ancient peoples and may have been used in Egypt with copper saws to make longitudinal cuts. Amazing how abrasive sand can be even when ground with a stick handle

sharpened stones are brittle and break

I live a very primitive off-grid lifestyle by American standards, no electricity, phone or plumbing. I try to not use any fuel powers implements when possible. I feel more confident and secure knowing that I can use hand tools to get results. Reading about and watching these videos has been very inspiring. I would have never thought to hollow out a rock in that fashion. Fantastic ingenuity! Of course upvoted and resteemed

Am always learning something new on steemit everyday. All these wonderful information will certainly increase my general knowledge about instruments that came from the humble digging stick.

Such information helps us to appreciate what we enjoy today.

That is quite a bit of work to make that hole in the rock by hand, but it actually went faster than I thought it would. Interesting to imagine a rock storing value, brings a new meaning to Block Chain.

that's for sure

I always wondered when it came to tools and hand axes and the like how they managed to work with stone and create holes in it. That is pretty dashed effective.

It makes me wonder...

  • Did the people who came up with a simple but time intensive method ever invent a way to make the hand-drilling easier?
  • Did they expressly experiment with different types of rocks?
  • Were different-sized stones used for digging up different kinds of plants?

Yes, yes and yes.

I might have to learn this before my wife kicks me out to scavenge lol

They really take their time when making these old tools. The weighted stick is pretty interesting. Thanks for sharing @gavvet


Drilling through a rock with a wooden stick. Incredible!

Who would have thought?

No not really, its amazing how the humankind adpoted...

And go foward, no matter what!

Dont u think so?

Can you imagine having to collect your water like that? It almost seems like a scene out of Dune. Makes me incredibly grateful for running water.

not to forget modern sanitation...

I didn't even think of that--ugh!

Who still can say that primitive actions only bring primative results . I see brilliance here .

Yup, we would crash and burn under the same circumstances.

I can't express to you how much I enjoyed your post. Cant the tool be used to grind down hard fiber plant materials as well?
Excellent pics!

Thank you @Gavvet for your post.
This post has given me a new science about the way people live in the ancient world.
I am really interested in the world of archaeologists.
I want to learn more about archeology.
I hope you will help me by posting about more archaeologists.
So I can learn more about archeology.
I will wait for your next post.
thank you...

Interesting post
I have never seen a natural way to pierce a hard rock, I just see today a stone in the split with a machine.
But, you did not mention the usefulness of the stone. You just mention the stone with a high price.
thanks for sharing.

These videos are super-interesting and shows how difficult a survival can become. But, mankind, blessed with brain has always found a way to overcome these challenges.

Excellent post, you're writing is wonderful! Writing is a purge that can indeed free you

ohh drilling using a stone.. hhmm Interesting!

thank you for sharing <3

Awesome, so crazy and amazing what people can come up with when it is NEEDED to survive or eat. But then we have Americans and other countries complain they have to wait in their car at the drive thru, crazy.

Great post! the summer time when the heat is bearing down, I don't want to be trapped in my car waiting for my order, but it's just how things are. It's a hard life in the concrete jungle.

I believe people were smarter long time ago...

They were much more creative and had to do things alone!

Astonishing article rich in science, thanks for adding insight to our readers

They were the original inventors of many tools now modified and used in the modern days. South Africa is so rich in history, minerals and culture, a true dream destination for historians and enthusiasts. There is so much to blog about in your country @gavvet, I am sure you have much more informative history queued up for us. As always, I look forward to the great content you share with us, I'm not sure if you're a historian by profession or just very passionate about your country but I like the idea of learning more about these things from someone who actually live there, who I can ask questions and interact with, rather than reading history books or searching uncle google. Keep up the great work.

good job.. keep it up...

Thank you very much @gavvet

This is great news, I just found out there is a civilization like that in other parts of the continent. I will remember this, this is information that enriches the knowledge of archeology. thanks.

This tool shows only how human solve complex problem using what is available. And this is how our ancestor survive.

this is best post @gavvet

Very informative article @gavvet

Thanks for sharing this article for steemians.

Wow I do not know what 2 say. This is...

Good information, thanks

Your posts are as always very interesting)) Thank you for sharing with us)))

great post buddy...
it is awosome..
you got 128$in 4 mint..i cant earn much in my whole life...

now that's an interesting video i just watched.
Thanks for sharing.

This is a new experience that i get. Good digging stick. Interesting posts and taps. Hopefully with this post we are all motivated. If we want to do something to do with patience and vigor. Because the results will be real and if we do as they please and just carelessly then the result will be low.

these are real experiments... how could they know the science?

omgg.. incrediblee.. people like them do exist. i never even thought this..
no words. thanks for sharing this information..

nice post... I think we underestimate the intelligence and capabilities of ancient civilizations a lot. I believe they were far more advanced than we have been led to believe they were... After all they did make they pyramid, cant ever take that for granted.

This is pretty fascinating to learn about! I'd love to see more of these type of African survival smarts posts! Us westerners don't usually know these things!

Gotta start somewhere!

I need your moral support I'm new here..

Followed Voted Done Please give back Follow for help

wonderful post again.. the artifacts in Africa must be great I hope to see it once.. first in 2019 to the US with my kids.. Hope to see some nice museum on the west coast.. any ideas? Are you visiting steemfest?

Ohh, that's really great!!

please give me one more chance to increase my reputation. At least help me reach till 10 reputation points , so I can start again

Seeing these pictures i just remembered Ross from the paleontology department (FRIENDS). LOL

Wonderful friend. People are surviving with different means as the time demands. Humans are the best of all animals.Thanks for sharing such a valuable information. If you don't mind please give a visit on my post too.

great info,awesome work.....
thanks for sharing

Nature of technology 👍 awesome

I never would have imagined that you could bore a hole through a rock with just sand and a strong stick... That's incredible. This is the kinda stuff we ALL should know, but we're too busy with technology to get around to nature.

If I ever end up lost in the wilderness, I'll give this one a try :-)

A very useful article, thank you for sharing a post that adds to the reader's insight.the progress of that era of one thing that will unravel the mystery of technology of that era in africa

s always I learned something interesting, thanks !

thanks for share. upvotes your post & you upvotes my post

This is so fascinating!!!
And so much hard work to survive.....

very good, ese trabajo también lo realizamos acá en Venezuela, claro, con otras técnicas.

woo!!! very-very nice article.....
i followed to you and upvote also.
i will daily upvote you.
same like you too upvote me each others daily. ok

Nice post bro!!😆

those are the ancestors of dunkin donuts and krispy creme...

good discovery..LOL

Good work!!!

Keep it up made!!!

Nice post , thank you @gavvet fot sharing it with us .I'm new here on steemi and i already love it . I really like how the people here are doing their best to write good posts. Only the idea of a reward is so powerful. Followed

Bring one of these stone to India, paint it with orange color and these idiots will start worshipping it.

Great post !
Really informative .
Thank you so much for your effort .
Upvoted !

Interesting ! thank's for sharing

The nomads was so genius, we should appreciate there inventions, without them we don't have our own, did you know that albert einstein was a nomad from the indian country.

very interesting - wouldn't it have been great to live as a hunter gatherer ?

Real information

living skills, its always great to learn something new, thanks for posting this .

A very useful insight to all of us, ever since I joined steemit community in the vast amount of knowledge I got from steemit. Thanks for my senior @gavvet
I'm @rizal from aceh

No one could say better...

The inside of this one has been worn perfectly smooth from many years of much use.

Upvote, Follow and Resteemed
Steem on

upvoted and follow ..........if you like check my travel photos here

thats very informative... i think early civilizations are really fast learner and very innovative... they can easily adapt to the changing world....

Congratulations for your excellent post, I invite you to follow us and we grow faster, greetings

I love you!!

Hello steemit

I am always I learned something interesting, thanks

Hey @gavvet, I really liked your article. So much so, that I included it in my weekly collection of those I want to share with others:

Este video demuestra que podemos sobrevivir sin tecnologia

I love this! Archeology is one of my passions. I have a large collection of pottery shards and arrow heads but have never found one of those tools. Maybe someday.

Good picture, I like this picture. Past booking

I like you'r post gavvet. You focus issue archaeology? I'm follow you now. If you like, check my post to about history of Aceh

The stone age was intermediate age of modern human and ancient human it gave evidence of modification of techniques

We can just imagine how hard to live as a bushmen in Africa but with ingenuities like making these tools it helped them survived the harsh environment.

Thanks gavvet, very interesting post. Looks like the reddish stone has a high iron content giving it even more weight. How did they fix the rock to the stick once drilled? I didn't exactly figure out how the rock was being used, was the rock fixed or hammering to a certain position, the hole being a guide?

simply jammed in place with a smaller stick as shown below in the lowest picture

Ahhh, in deutscher Schrift, "Grabstock und Beschwerdesteine", thankyou very much. These people were smarter than I thought, the stone can be used for different tools, the tool can be adapted. I was not aware that this type of modular thinking was possible. Today tools solely have one use, that's why you need whole hardware stores to stock a huge array of tools. Thank you very much @gavvet, highly appreciated.

3 Things have astounded me, 1.) that this interests you, 2.) that a scientist documented this precisely with attention to detail, 3.) that the people who used these tools had a sense behind the conical hole and had modular tool use. In Germany they are banning this type of "Nazi" writing, and soon all the facts will be forgotten. Our museum of the future is the blockchain.

Hi friend, very good !!!!!
You would help me with a vote in my Blog., Thanks !!! ;)