Recycling is no modern concept: our ancestors were putting old tools to new uses 13,000 years ago, archaeologists in Spain have discovered.

In the first study of its kind, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, researchers examined the unusually high number of re-worked burnt tools found at Molí del Salt in Tarragona.

Manuel Vaquero, from Universitat Rovira I Virgilli and the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPES), told CWA: ‘Burnt artefacts are simpler to interpret because retouches made on a burnt artefact are easy to identify: the modified area after burning shows a characteristic greasy lustre.’

Their research shows that multi-purpose tools – usually intended for domestic purposes – were frequently recycled, while those designed for hunting, like projectile points, were not. Reusing lithic resources meant that communities could recycle abandoned artefacts rather than moving around looking for raw materials.


This article is an extract from the full article published in World Archaeology Issue 56. Click here to subscribe

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