Couldn't they just have been collected because they looked nice? When I was a kid I had a stash of more or less interesting rocks I found here and there.
It seems weird to me to go straight for the spiritual and ritual explanation.
>Many who visit Ga-Mohana Hill today for ritual practice see it as part of a network of places linked to the Great Water Snake (Nnoga ya metsi), a capricious and shape-shifting being. Many of these spiritual places are also associated with water.
>Places such as Ga-Mohana Hill and their associated stories remain some of the most enduring intangible cultural artefacts from the past, linking modern indigenous South Africans to earlier communities.
Is the article positing that (relatively) modern practices and beliefs could have a link to these 100+ millennia old crystals?
If true it would be fascinating, but it seems like a pretty wild conjecture to me. The culture, language and customs of people 100k years ago was probably very different from ours. It seems to me that you'd have to have pretty convincing evidence to be able to extrapolate that far into the past.
"judging from the DO NOT DISTURB sign hanging from an archaic doorknob, was clearly the entrance to a still-sealed burial chamber. Carson's incredible discoveries, including the remains of two bodies, one of then on a ceremonial bed facing an altar that appeared to be a means of communicating with the Gods and the other lying in a porcelain sarcophagus in the Inner Chamber, permitted him to piece together the whole fabric of that extraordinary civilization."
Probably why I became an archaeologist.
Definitely recommend. It's cute, if for nothing else.
100,000 years does seem like a really long time though for a direct connection to present-day people.
We take Gutenberg's disruption for granted now, but it's a recent event.
For millennia before Gutenberg, history and culture were transmitted orally. Amazingly, we don't have any appreciation for how that was done, except when we see something on television that we can't explain.
Have you ever seen a memory champion memorise the order of two decks of cards in less than two minutes? How about the names of two dozen people from the audience in less than a minute, recalled perfectly at the end of the show? If so, you have glimpsed the technique that homo sapiens relied on for millennia.
Did you know it's possible for you to remember lists of thousands of detailed facts and stories, even if you don't consider that your memory is anything special? The reason you don't do this is that (a) you don't need to do it because you have a laptop and a phone; and (b) you never learned how.
But the Greeks and the Romans did it, and every culture before them. If they hadn't done it, you wouldn't have a laptop or a phone because you'd still be living on the savanna or in a cave.
The Art of Memory by Frances Yates
* Protestantism - Luther was the culmination of a series of heretical revolts against orthodox Catholicism that included the Cathari, Waldensians, Hussites, and many others. German nationalism and corruption of the Roman Church were important factors in his success.
* Colonialism -- Practiced by the Carthaginians and Greeks throughout the Mediterranean.
* Slavery -- A long and ugly story documented in texts like the Bible, Homer, and many others dating to the beginning of recorded history. It was pervasive in classical Mediterranean civilizations.
* Democracy -- Classical examples of full democracy: Athens, Corinth, Megara, Syracuse, Rome. Medieval examples of proto-democracies: Swiss Cantons, Venice, Hanseatic League cities, etc.
What Gutenberg did achieve was lay the foundation for widespread literacy by making books cheaper and more available than at any previous point in European history. That alone is a major accomplishment.
That's a start. Now consider the content of what people read.
Science 101, 102, 103, 201, 202, 203, 301, 302, 303 etc.
The word of God, localised in a dozen languages
What might be the impact of this content on people's thoughts and practices?
Then think about how commerce works. Have you ever been part of a company that has raised funds on the stock market, or sold goods internationally? Can you imagine doing either of those things without the invention of the printing press?
It seems we have a big difference in the definition of "full democracy".
Maybe a slippery slope style of argument where printing press led to X which led to Y, which opened the new world, which led to plantations, which led to slavery.
The problem with that is you can start at anything and end up there. The wheel. The loom. I could probably spin a convincing yarn starting from beer.
I'd say the same thing about colonialism, the difference between the classical world (and earlier) and Europe post-1600 is the scale, not the practice.
Whilst contracts had previously been written by hand, the standardisation and scale of reproduction enabled by Gutenberg meant that risk could be transacted in open markets by complete strangers.
Advertising, accountancy and international shipping, all enabled by Gutenbergs presses. Prior to that, slavery, which has been practised since ancient times, was a local phenomenon.
What printing did was enable capital markets and merchants to establish mercantile practices that could extend to an arbitrary N degrees of separation. That network expansion, more than any individual technological innovation, is responsible for the upscaling of all the enterprises which distinguish mass consumer society from any prior society.
The Atlantic slave trade was one important step on this journey.
How many commercial and trade documents were printed with a press? Contracts, ledgers, etc. were still mostly handwritten.
Once shipping had advanced to a point where commerce could be transacted over large distances and durations, amongst multitudes of parties from different demographic origins, the bottleneck for the expansion of international trade was exposed as finance and risk management.
The full importance of financial risk management is revealed by Portugal's decline as a maritime power from the 16th century. British bond traders and insurers used increasingly sophisticated financial instruments to ensure (and insure) British commercial fleets ruled the waves for the next 300 years.
If you're referring to the availability of paper money, bank notes were already used in the 7th century AD in China and introduced in Europe by Marco Polo in the 13th century , and before that the Knights Templar issued hand-written notes to the same effect.
Explaining the decline of the Hanseatic League:
"New vehicles of credit were imported from Italy, where double-entry book-keeping was invented in 1492, and outpaced the Hansa economy, in which silver coins changed hands rather than bills of exchange."
The relevance of the printing press is only that printed forms were required for conducting commerce between parties that were introduced at arms length i.e. from outside networks of direct personal trust (one or two degrees of separation i.e. someone trusted could vouch for an associate to introduce that associate to a capital merchant, who could document the arrangement with a "hand-written note", with the full knowledge that he had the means to extract revenge in the breach because the parties were known to each other).
With printed forms, the numerous detailed requirements stipulating the terms of guarantee could be mass produced in advance, thus enabling strangers to circumvent the need for personal assurances so they could operate in free and open markets, thus greatly expanding the pool of financiers, entrepreneurs, traders and customers.
How the shadow of slavery still hangs over global finance
America's First Bond Market Was Backed By Enslaved Human Beings
The hidden links between slavery and Wall Street
THE ORIGINS OF FINANCIAL DEVELOPMENT:
HOW THE AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE CONTINUES TO INFLUENCE MODERN FINANCE
This long article on the slave trade provides broad and detailed historical context for the evolution of the financial industry, without directly treating finance in depth.
Most of the slave trading cultures I’m aware of took their slaves from elsewhere. The Romans took most of their slaves from conquered peoples. The Vikings transported slaves all across Europe and the Mediterranean.
The transportation of slaves from African to America probably has more to do with the development of better sailing technology than writing.
Accountancy has also been around much longer than the printing press. The oldest known written records are in fact warehouse inventories.
This study  examines the accounts of the Portuguese New Christian trader, Manoel Batista Peres. These private accounts, found in the Archivo General de la Nación in Lima, Peru, were associated with the trading of slaves on the Upper Guinea Coast in the early seventeenth century. The accounts take the double-entry format but, in the absence of a metallic currency, were kept in cloth money. Combining evidence from the accounts themselves, with the context in which Peres conducted his business, the study explores the reasons why he kept his accounts in this format. It shows how this system of accounting could be adapted to a non-monetised economy and contributes to the debate over the relationship between double-entry bookkeeping and the rise of capitalism.
The number of slaves carried off from Africa to the Americas increased fivefold between 1630 and 1770 
Based on extensive archival research, this study  documents and analyses the accounting techniques that the Companhia Geral do Grão Pará e Maranhão applied to its slave trading operations during the second half of the eighteenth century. The surviving accounting records of this Portuguese chartered company reveal – in meticulous detail – the integral role that accounting technology played in enabling the slave trade to flourish.
Slavery thrived under colonial rule. British and Dutch settlers relied on enslaved people to help establish farms and build the new towns and cities that would eventually become the United States.
Enslaved people were brought to work on the cotton, sugar and tobacco plantations. The crops they grew were sent to Europe or to the northern colonies, to be turned into finished products. Those finished goods were used to fund trips to Africa to obtain more slaves who were then trafficked back to America.
This triangular trading route was profitable for investors.
To raise the money to start many future plantation owners turned to capital markets in London - selling debt that was used to purchase boats, goods and eventually people. 
The common narrative is that today’s modern management techniques were developed in the factories in England and the industrialized North of the United States, not the plantations of the Caribbean and the American South.
According to a new book by historian Caitlin Rosenthal, that narrative is wrong.
Rosenthal is an assistant professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley, and in her new book, “Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management,” she looks at the business side of slavery once it was well-established on plantations. Rosenthal argues that slaveholders in the American South and Caribbean were using advanced management and accounting techniques long before their northern counterparts. Techniques that are still used by businesses today. 
Gutenberg didn’t invent writing! Written culture was a huge deal long before the printing press.
The limitation for the first 5,500 years of writing was not so much the technology of writing, as the scale of publishing.
And partly as control. Remember the Church vehemently opposed the translation of the Bible from Latin, because if the general population could read it they'd start making their own minds up about what it said.
How many of those 50 do you still remember?
I also find this with code syntax. Because looking it up is so easy, I don't bother remembering it. Back in the 90's I remembered all this, no problem. Now I have to keep checking how to initialise an array in whatever language I'm in.
Ofc, it could be old age ;)
Which would be OK if archeologists were trained in any of the hundreds of specialised activities needed to stay alive in pre-industrial times. But no. Digging precise holes in a grid, and drawing.
I'm only being a bit cynical.
Our biology is virtually identical.
Our emotional, physical and spiritual needs haven't changed, have they?
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "our culture", but if we assume some kind of Californian derivative, the most obvious difference is our built environment, which features more shopping malls, office towers, airports, highways and hospitals than Ga-Mohana. And more obesity. More guns too, but they had weapons and laws for the same reasons we do, didn't they?
What do you imagine are the differences between our culture, language and customs vis a vis people of 100k years ago?
It’s possible this might have been a result of the developments of prefrontal synthesis some 70k years ago.
What would you say culture is, and what determines it?
So my guess is people back then would be less relaxed about eg meeting strangers, and they would maybe all practice self defense.
Another thing that might be different is their attitudes to property. That is after all something that has gotten fairly complex since the dawn of civilization.
It's also the case that they probably has access to fewer people, so that has an effect on how well they could satisfy their emotional needs.
So... are they all mistaken about what they need? Or is there some line somewhere between humans of 100k years ago and those of today? Or is it after all reasonable that humans of 100k years ago might have had spiritual needs?
Similarly, it is difficult for us to decipher other human culture's spiritual beliefs and practices without knowledge of language.
Even non-spiritual behaviour is difficult to decode without language. Language transmits 80% of the intellectual content of television. Try watching the news or a drama series with the sound turned off.
Did your mother, grandmother, or spouse collect crystals?
Many humans - perhaps most - keep at least one crystal attached to a finger. Why is that?
"In 1938, the diamond cartel De Beers began a marketing campaign that would have a major impact on engagement rings. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the price of diamonds collapsed. At the same time, market research indicated that engagement rings were going out of style with the younger generation. Before World War II, only 10% of American engagement rings contained a diamond."
How so? Apart from the obvious personality stereotypes you're drawing upon - chill vs aggressive, which exist in every culture, Germans and Californian cultures aren't that different. They have stop signs, alcohol laws, churches, jewellery stores, maps, family gatherings, weddings, funerals, christenings, horoscopes, sporting allegiances, dress codes, toilet and expectoration norms, sexual mores and food preparation standards.
So too did the ancients. I'm wondering how different you imagine these were? I mean, their technologies, foods, footballs and built environment were different, as they are with Germans and Californians, but to what end, culturally?
Another datapoint are the many remote and isolated tribes with wildly different cultures, for example not having the concept of object permanence.
How so? Care to elaborate a little?
Edit: super short summary, it’s possible before ~800 BC many people experienced hallucinations due to not having a theory of mind, oftentimes in the form of gods speaking to them quite literally. Which if you consider how embedded our theory of mind is now vs how prevalent and seriously belief in gods were previously, combined with how common hallucinations in children (Tulpas) and many mental “disorders” are, seems plausible. At some tipping point, trade, large scale civilization and theory of mind coalesced to suddenly remove this as a common mode of thought.
I mean try to imagine living in a small tribe with no written language, no idea that you have a brain, a strong belief in the reality of god(s), no concept of science or logic, and many nights spent in the dark sharing ghost stories, and yea, it seems not that far fetched that you’d have a vastly different experience of reality including experiencing many things as not even being from “yourself” as opposed to manifestations of your own brain talking to itself in the form of your beliefs (gods).
Which makes everything have a partial religious purpose.
Here's a fun little short story from Robert Heinlein that makes quite a bit of fun of this idea.
My favorite one is how archaeologists identified hundreds of structures, all around the Mediterranean, and declared that they were religious shrines. Turns out that they were actually olive oil presses.
Growing up I was taken aback that archeologists got to write the history on top of specializing in identifying and excavating sites. Just dig the shit up, record the facts and let everyone think for themselves.
Secondly, the division you think should exist already does. Not all archaeologists are there digging in the dirt. Depending on the nature of the site and the area, it may even be uncommon.
But here's how a typical dig site functions: the lead archaeologist/excavation director is rarely on site to dig. They're doing other things. The site supervisor/crew chief (another archeologist) manages the site day to day and does lots of paperwork, directs everyone, handles visitors, and secondarily inspects finds. These two people in consultation with others produce almost all the interpretations you dislike. Below them there will typically be some number of other archaeologists, specialists, and grad students, who may dig, but often do other things surrounding the actual digging like flotation, taking coordinates, or managing finds. At the bottom are undergrads and local workers who do most of the actual digging and other manual labor. These are rarely involved in interpretation beyond recognizing artifacts, they purely "record the facts". The laborers in particular tend to specialize in excavation. It's a point of pride to many of them that they're better excavators than most archaeologists.
I always thought the “spark” that helped propel us to the future was not biological.
And this got me thinking how far back this applies, and my personal guess is pretty far, maybe even 100k years. When I hear stories like this, I like to imagine that they were basically modern humans, doing all the same stuff we do today, just under very different sets of norms.
This article is light on details.
Single-grain optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of quartz from each of the three stratigraphic aggregates provided in-sequence dates with 1σ errors of 14.8 ± 0.8 ka (dark brown gravelly silt), 30.9 ± 1.8 ka (orange ashy silt) and 105.3 ± 3.7 ka (DBSR) (weighted mean, n = 3).
Several lines of evidence provide support for an anthropogenic origin of the OES. First, the fragments occur within a well-preserved rockshelter context and are in direct association with many other traces of human activity (Extended Data Fig. 5). Second, the OES fragments show evidence of having been burned. Over 80% (n = 34) of the OES fragments display red colouration (Fig. 2, Supplementary Data), which reflects exposure to temperatures of 300–350 °C. Third, humans were the primary agents of accumulation for the faunal assemblage at GHN and there is no evidence for the presence of hyenas or other animals that consume ostrich eggs. The identifiable fraction of zooarchaeological material from the DBSR (n = 467) is dominated by remains of ungulates and tortoises (Table 1, Supplementary Data). Taphonomic analysis demonstrates a high frequency of anthropogenic percussion marks and cut marks (Table 1), and most of the faunal specimens show evidence of moderate burning.
Is it just as simple as "it doesn't look like it was ever dug up"? I have no clue how this stuff works.
Fun thought: archaeologists 10k years from now unearthing today's digs, finding the traces of our careful destruction of ancient evidence...