Re: Sensory and sensibility

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sun Jan 20 2002 - 20:58:08 GMT

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    At 08:10 PM 19/01/02 -0800, "Joe Dees" <>


    >The first signs were most likely tools, and their meaning or significance
    >was comprised of (a mental image of) their manufacture and use. Their
    >ideal shapes, and the behavioral means to achieve them, were stored as
    >ideations, and communicated through exhibition and demonstration. These
    >communications of created forms and techniques were unquestionably memetic
    >in nature, and they predated the cave paintings by more than a million years.

    I agree. The oldest surviving objects clearly the result of a meme
    (because they are so similar) may be "hand axes," actually "killer
    frisbees," rocks chipped sharp all the way around and egg shaped looking at
    one flat on. They are surely not the first, only the first to
    survive. (Manuports, rocks ideal for throwing found a long way from
    sources of such rock, are half a million years older. They might be
    considered surviving evidence of a meme, carry-rocks-to-ward-off-big-cats.)

    "ABOUT THE EARLIEST STONE TOOL of fancy design was the Acheulean hand ax.
    It's almost as fancy as the arrowhead (first seen during the last ice age
    but mostly in the 10,000 years since the melt-off). The Acheulean hand ax
    is far, far older: it was the most prominent feature of the Acheulean
    toolkit made by Homo erectus between 1.5 and 0.3 million years ago. It is
    found everywhere from the tip of Africa to Europe to South Asia, made of
    whatever local rocks were handy.

    "There is only one problem: for more than a century, no one could seem to
    figure out what the Acheulean hand ax was especially good for. For
    archaeologists, it has been like one of those "What is it?" exhibits in the
    children's room at a museum, where the children attempt to guess what the
    covered pan on a pole was once used for. To preheat beds with coals from
    the fire is not a modern problem, what with other forms of heating; I'm not
    sure that our guesses about hand ax usefulness are much better than the
    children's guesses about the pan on a pole."

    ... . . .

    I highly recommend reading _Ascent of Mind_, or especially this
    chapter. It is highly relevant to where the substrate for memes, i.e.,
    large brains, came from.

    Keith Henson

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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