Upon the recommendation of my annoyingly knowledgeable friend Rene I looked up A History of the World in 100 Objects, a BBC Radio 4 series, on the Beeb’s website. You can listen to all the episodes, 18 so far, on the site, or download them for free on iTunes. Each episode is about 15 minutes long, and narrated by Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum. . .
Stone chopping tool from the British Museum
Episode 2 features the oldest object in the British Museum, an Olduvai stone chopping tool 1.8 million years old, found by the archaeologist Louis Leakey in Tanzania. It’s a stone that’s been chipped several times to turn it into an efficient knife. According to the host, the people who made tools like this were probably not hunters but “brilliant opportunists”. They lay in wait while lions and other predators killed their prey, and after the predators had moved away they collected the meat from the dead animal. Without such sneakiness our species would not have survived.
Stone chopping tools were used for stripping meat and breaking into the bones to collect marrow fat, the most nutritious part of the carcass. (The host notes that marrow fat doesn’t sound too appetizing; obviously he’s never had bulalo.) Having this protein to eat meant that they would survive to produce offspring who could make even more complex tools. We’re here today because our ancestors were clever enough to get bulalo. . .
Bulalo photo from pinoycravings.com
Objects make us human in Emotional Weather Report, last Sunday in the Philippine Star.
A History of the World in 100 Objects, with photographs of the objects and transcripts of the podcasts, is at www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld.