Spears of Destiny

Ethiopian spearheadsWe return at last to regular service with a new article by Brian Thomas, Which Came First–the Spear or its Thrower? But first, let us backtrack.

You may remember from October 2012 that Thomas dedicated an article to the Schöningen spears. These are wooden throwing spears found in a coal mine in Germany, and at around 300,000 years old they are commonly billed as the oldest hunting weapons known. Thomas, seeming to believe that they were the oldest tools of any kind, used these artefacts to claim that humans have always had this kind of technology. He said at the time:

If human evolution were true, one would expect to find that the earliest ape-like humans produced clumsy efforts, not the refined tools and artifacts known around the world.

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The Schöningen Spears

The lignite mine in Google mapsThere seems to be an interesting side effect of the distaste that young Earth creationists seem to have for “historical science”: they’re no good at it. Believe it or not, there are some events in history that the Bible says absolutely nothing about, and creationists seem to be unable to build a coherent picture from the available evidence. Take this latest Brian Thomas article, Eight Spears found in German Coal Mine, as an example.

First, though, there are a few things that need to be noted. The obvious conclusion that would be drawn from such a title in a young Earth creationist publication is that the story is of the “petrified hammer” variety. Not so. I can’t get explicit confirmation from anything I’ve read, but it seems that while it’s literally true to say that the Schöningen Spears were indeed ‘found in a German coal mine‘ they weren’t actually in the lignite being extracted. Instead the spears themselves are dated to ~300,000 years ago, and are believed to have been wielded by Homo heidelbergensis.

Researchers discovered eight well-manufactured throwing spears in an Ice Age coal deposit near Schöningen, Germany. They are calling these the oldest human tools. What can forensic science reveal about the people who made them?

As I said I don’t think the spears were actually found in the deposit, but it’s a fairly moot point as that aspect isn’t relevant to the rest of the article.

Who’s “calling these the oldest human tools”? I’m struggling to find anyone but Brian doing so – they’re calling the spears the oldest hunting weapons, which is quite a difference. Continue reading