What Are the "Aterian" Stone Age Tools of North Africa?

The “Aterian” stone tool style or industry from North Africa is named for the first or “type” site where these distinctive hunting weapons and food processing tools were described: Bir el-Atir in Algeria.

The “Aterian” stone tool technology and cultural group was originally thought to date to the period from 40,000 to 20,000 years before the present. However, more recent scientific technologies have been used to re-examine the stone tools and have pushed back the time horizon for this technology of stone tool making to a much older range: from 85,000 to 40,000 years of age.

The manufacturing process for these tools is derived from the earlier “Mousterian” methods for working stone, using prepared and shaped cores from which were struck off large flakes which were then often unifacially trimmed into the desired tool shapes.

This older stone working process was long used by archaic types of humans, such as Neanderthals and Heidelbergensis. However, all of the human remains associated with “Aterian” tools and sites have been “early modern” humans.

They continued with the same basic stone working processes, but with a major conceptual difference. The “Aterian” style tools are the first to have clearly been designed and manufactured to be mounted on handles, with the projectile points and the scrapers having distinctive prepared “tangs” at the base of the tool or projectile point.

A “tang” serves as a protruding structure which enables a tool or blade to be inserted into a split handle or shaft material, like wood or bone, and then bound in position with cord of some sort, or with a binding agent like a glue which will harden to form a permanent bond. Another term for tang is “haft”.

The “Aterian” culture ranged all across North Africa, from Morocco in the west and as far east as the Kharga Oasis in Egypt. The Kharga Oasis is located in the desert lands a good distance west of the Nile River Valley.

Here is a description of the size and characteristics of three typical “Aterian” implements from North Africa. Among these three pieces is an “Aterian” unifacial projectile point, from the Middle Paleolithic (Middle Sone Age), which measures 1-5/8″ long by 1-1/8″ wide. The knapping work was performed on one face of the stone, with the underside essentially untouched. This is why it is termed unifacial. The projectile point is roughly triangular in shape, with the tang for mounting to a shaft protruding from the base of the triangle.

The two unifacial, tanged scraping and processing tools feature rounded working edges, at the end opposite the tang used for mounting the tools to handles. These are about 2-1/2″ long and 2″ across the rounded working edge of the tool. The shape of these two is more of an oval, with the tang protruding from one of the longer sides of the oval. This tang would be attached to a wooden or bone handle to provide greater force and control at the processing edge of the scraper or processing tool.

These implements date from a time 85,000 to 40,000 years before present, when the Sahara Desert region was rich in grasslands, teeming with wild herds, and populated by a widespread early modern hunter-gatherer population.

Even though they were early modern humans, the “Aterians” were still using tool manufacturing processes which were long utilized by archaic human populations such as the Neanderthal culture in North Africa and Europe. These were the earliest tanged tools and weapons, made specifically to be attached to handles and shafts.

Copyright 2009, all rights reserved. F. Scott Crawford, Carrollton, Texas, USA.

Darius the Great – Great Persian Ruler, Administrator, Lawgiver and Architect

Darius I of Persia (548-486 BC), commonly known as Darius the Great, was one of the greatest kings of Persia (modern day Iran) and one of the great kings that ruled Persia in the Achaemenid Empire, also known as the Persian Empire (c. 550-330 BC).

He ascended the throne in 521 BC, having killed the previous king, Gaumata the Magian, who he regarded as an usurper. Darius’ version of these events may still be read in the monumental Behistun Inscription, near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran.

Darius ruled the Persian Empire at its peak, when it extended from the Indus River (modern day Pakistan) through Central and Southwest Asia to Egypt and part of Europe. He faced down many revolts throughout the Empire such such a revolt by the Babylonians. He further extended the Empire by conquering the Scythians, Thrace and Macedon.

The Ionian Revolt (499-498) – and associated revolts in Aeolis, Caria, Cyrus, and Doris – rose against the Persian Empire.

Darius sent two punitive expeditions against the Athenians to punish them for supporting the Ionian Revolt but these, unusually, were defeated: the first through the wreck of the Persian naval fleet in a storm off Mt Athos (492) and the second ending a military disaster at the Battle of Marathon (490).

The Athenians had also wrought destruction in Persia during the Ionian Revolt – for example, they destroyed Sardis, political capital of the western province of the Persian Empire.

According to the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, Darius vowed never to forget the destruction of Sardis. In his Histories (Book 5: 105), Herodotus relates the following: “And he [Darius] commanded one of his servants to repeat to him the words, ‘Master, remember the Athenians’, three times whenever he sat down to dinner.”

Darius’ conquests were noted for the humane way in which he treated the peoples he conquered.

Darius reformed the administration and finances of the Persian Empire. He divided his empire into 20 administrative provinces called “satrapies”, each one ruled by a “satrap” (governor). He watched over his Empire’s revenues with an eagle eye: for example, each satrap had a secretary who watched the actions of the satrap and reported back directly to Darius.

He levied a new annual tax and brought in a new standardized currency. He encouraged commerce – for example, by constructing roads and canals, by building a powerful navy, and by sending out expeditions of exploration.

Darius was known as a great lawgiver, who was severe but fair, and he standardized the laws across the whole of the Persian Empire. Even foreigners recognized his great qualities as a lawgiver. In the Bible (Daniel 6:8), is written: “the law of the Medes and Persians which alters not”. Darius created a codification of laws for Egypt.

Darius the Great was a follower of the Zoroastrian god, Ahura Mazda, and under Darius Zoroastrianism became the state religion. But in religious matters Darius was, unusually for his time, noted for his religious tolerance.

Darius the Great was a great architect. He built Susa, a beautiful new capital city (located near Shustar, in modern day Iran). He also built the terrace and the great palaces of the magnificent city of Persepolis (518-516), the Persian Empire’s ceremonial capital whose ruins still amaze modern visitors (in 1979 UNESCO declared the citadel of Persepolis a World Heritage Site)..

15 Phrases Contributed by William Shakespeare

Throughout the wide literary world, William Shakespeare is known as the greatest writer in the English language. Compared to many other well-known writers, Shakespeare’s life is shrouded in mystery. Yet his plays and other works provide a lot of insight into his literary creative talent. Little is known about his childhood, but much can be inferred from his education. Shakespeare attended a grammar school in the late sixteenth century that offered a mandatory classical education. He learned the Latin language and was rigorously tested in written and oral Latin prose and poetry, as well as grammar, rhetoric, logic, astronomy, and arithmetic.

Little information has been found about what he did after grammar school. Instead of attending a university, most biographers believe he started writing plays which were performed at stages in London, as well as taking on small jobs.

Shakespeare penned 37 plays, 154 sonnets and 4 long narrative poems which permanently changed the English language, contributing more to it than any other writer. In all, he created roughly 1,700 new words in most of his works. Also, Shakespeare invented 135 phrases that we use today. Here are 15 of his phrases which most people are familiar with:

“It’s Greek to me” (Julius Caesar, Act I Scene II): This sentence is said when you do not know something.

“Wild Goose Chase” (Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene IV): An unsuccessful search.

“Fair play” (The Tempest, Act V Scene 1) – Follow the rules in competitions or sports.

“Knock, Knock! Who’s there?” (Macbeth, Act II, Scene III) – Shakespeare invented the “knock, knock” joke.

“All that glitters is not gold” (Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene VII) – Something that looks good, turns out not to be that great.

“Wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve” (Othello, Act I, Scene I) – To be open and honest about how you feel.

“Forever and a Day” (As You Like It, Act IV, Scene I) – A very, long period of time.

“Break the ice” (The Taming of the Shrew. Act I Scene II) – When two people meet, they ask each other polite questions.

“Seen Better Days” (As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII) – An item that’s not in good condition.

“Lie Low” (Much To Do About Nothing, Act V, Scene I) – Remain hidden.

“A laughing-stock” (The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III, Scene I) – A person who is considered a joke by many people.

“Love is blind” (“The Merchant of Venice”, Act II, Scene VI) – An expression meaning to love a person who isn’t physically attractive.

“Too much of a good thing” (“As You Like It” Act III, Scene V) – “Too much of a good thing” is not necessarily good for you.

“In a pickle” (“The Tempest” Act V, Scene I) – To be in trouble or a difficult situation.

“Good Riddance” (“Troilus and Cressida” Act II, Scene I) – An expression indicating welcome relief from someone or something undesirable or unwanted.

William Shakespeare is certifiably known as the father of the modern English language. No other English writer has contributed more to phrases and words than him. Throughout his plays, sonnets, and poetry, Shakespeare broke new ground by creating new words and expressions, which standardized our mother tongue by embedding themselves in our language. After 400 years, today’s avid readers can clearly recognize many of the words and expressions commonly used in today’s speech.