28 Jan 2009
"Fashion , hot or cold , is master of them all ." AW
(See previous posts http://andreswhy.blogspot.com "Combs" )
Hairdresser is the oldest tech profession . Untangling knots in body-hair using favourite pointed sticks evolved into split sticks used for picking nits (especially after regular huddling together around the fire after controlled usage of fire .)
This drove the development of finer cutting stone tools to make finer nit-picking combs .
It is a moot point whether larger stone tools for hunting evolved from this .The balance of probability favours it .
Beads came next .
Remember that they spent long periods at the sea-shore . Many shells come ready-made with holes . Stringing them together with some fish- or animal sinew would become an automatic status-designator as mighty hunters and good providers . And the fashion industry was born .
Lower status females (or males) eg juveniles , would not have access to animal or fish sinews or leather . So they would use plant fibres . Spinning developed . Forming a twine out of vegetable fibres to string their beads together .
Seashells are inclined to be washed-out . A few dabs of ochre did wonders for a shell and , of course , a face . Cosmetics .
Then weaving . Nets . Ropes .Clothes .
Copper and gold .
The oldest remains are beads . Because they are soft metals that can be easily drilled and strung .
(Beads made of wood or bone decayed . Seashells became scattered and disregarded .)
The process was driven not by money , but by reproductive success pressures . Fashion .
The oldest civilization sites are then at places where gold and copper were easily mined.
Your attention is drawn to very old mining sites (circa 75 000 years ago) in Northern Southafrica (Mpulanga) . Very large scale ruins , roads and terraced sites . Extremely puzzling . (See "Adams Calender" by Heine . ISBN 1 920153 07 1 www.makomati.com . The aerial photographs will take some explaining .)
Glass Beads .
The next Big Thing circa 4 000 BC . The technology first spread from Syria and Mesopotamia , presumably from fulgarites (formed by lightning strikes on a sandy surface.) . Glassware then became a major trading item during the Roman Empire .
Venice refined glass-beads to a mass-produced art . Hence its use as a trading item to barbarians .
But ask yourself , where did the demand come from ? Beads must have been a familiar thing . Glass beads were new and hence fashionable .
So , selling Manhattan island for a handful of glass-beads was very logical . Our descendants will see our valuation of diamonds as equally puzzling .
Present day .
Fashion is still ahead of the pack .
Some beads you can buy at your craft shop are technically more advanced than NASA
Compound materials like PMC (Precious Metal Clay) , Cellulose PMC or Polymer Modeling Clay are routinely used , combining the best features of ceramics , metals and paper . Especially their phase-change capabilities .
Malleable at room temperature , then fixed by temperature or chemicals to a stable form .
Programs like "num3d" (3D measurements) , "Rhinoceros" (3D design) and "SolidScape" (3D printer) are routinely used in an integrated way down to student level .
(Source "The New Jewelry" by Codina ISBN 1 57990 734 2 )
Scientists and technologists are not even aware that many of their problems have already been solved by some hairy artist .
And so it goes .