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Primeval epoch figures

Why does a bacteriologist from Khabarovsk create Neolithic tools

While Ilona's missile Mask is exploring space expanses, and cybersecons are being prepared for criminal cases, some are awakening an ancient person-and they acquire Zen in it. An employee of the Khabarovsk anti-plague station Nikolai Tsoy, in his spare time against the deadly bacteria and viruses, is mastering the analogues of the ancient guns. The objects of hunting and life he creates without the help of modern tools. What kind of movement is flint-pinping, how it conquers the world, but why it has little historical truth - in a new material by East Russia.

Primeval epoch figures
Photo: Andrey Slesarenko

Six in the evening. In the Khabarovsk Museum of Archeology, the lights are muted, the gates are locked. A steep spiral staircase leads me to the third floor. Here, in the experimental archeology department, two young men are smiling conspiratorially. On the table is raw fish. Nikolay Tsoi, 29-year-old bacteriologist, just came here from work, as he often does in the evenings and weekends. Here he takes from his backpack a dozen "prehistoric" knives, spreads the oilcloth and proceeds to cutting a half-meter-long flax.   

 The spectacle, suitable for kitchens, looks wonderful in the museum, where each of us reflexively tries to "not make noise" and "do not touch with hands". "And how would the leadership of the institution treat the fish cutting?" - I ask Anastasia Sobolevu, a young archaeologist, however, already seasoned with expeditions. Nastya watches the process a little further. Waving his hand, they say, nothing special. The experimenters were already brewing animal hooves and bones in the room (and they will continue one day), sifting catfish and making fish "skin". They swear more when horns are sawed - it's noisy and the smell is like in a dentist's office.



The experimental sector, opened in the Khabarovsk Museum of Archeology more than 10 years ago, is an island of antiquity in the center of a modern city. The only one in the Far East. 6 employees, plus volunteers and outsourced specialists. Nikolai Tsoi is not employed in the museum, this is a kind of barter: he is allowed to work in the workshop, and he helps with filling the expedition halls. Classes with visitors are based on communication with the world of antiquity, but the same stone ax from the main funds, where everything is registered and stored in special conditions, will not be put into the hands of the guest. The way out is man-made analogues. 

Scientists and volunteers recreate ancient industries and crafts. Studies not only talk about the techniques of processing materials, but also allow you to approach the way of thinking of an ancient person. For example, the production of tools of the Neolithic age requires more than one hour of time, a concentration more inherent in Shaolin monks than a man of the "figures" epoch, with his rabid rhythm of life.

"The ancient people were different on both the mental and the physiological level," says Anastasia Soboleva, a researcher at the Khabarovsk Museum of Archeology. - We hear and smell differently, our sense of touch has weakened in urban conditions. They formed a man of cognitively a completely different level than the primitive, living in the bosom of nature, which was not difficult for 6 hours to sit and work the stone. Try yourself for something to pozalat for several hours. 

Today in Africa, a resident of a tribe, going out on the path, can tell exactly who passed here half an hour ago, from what people, who it was - an old man, a child or a woman. Because the receptors work hundreds of times better, because other conditions. We do not need this today. Nature forms us for thousands of years, grinds, and gives us the opportunity not only to use some kind of upgrades, but also to roll back to the previous version. Even we archaeologists leave in the wilderness, and we are asked: "How can you for 2 a month without communication, without the Internet?" Yes, with pleasure! I remember my first expedition, when for 50 days I never used mp3 player, which I took with me. We were at the excavations every day, and really communicated, exchanged stories, for me it was a discovery! But there is a minus when you return to the city, it deafens you. "

Nizhnetambovsko 2005. Fixing material..jpg

Photo: Archaeological excavations in the village of Nijnetambovskoye

"What the teachers are actively fighting now, calling this defocusing of attention, was formerly the absolute norm," Nicholas echoed to her. "Because either look at the narrow window, or see the world through the open door." Master says, he was lucky: perseverance was instilled by the pope even in the preschool years. Much later, in 2012, a graduate of the Khabarovsk Medical University got to the "primitive farmstead", a site at the museum of archeology.

"I grew up in the countryside, and as I began to walk, I got a knife and a piece of wood from my father. Because the experience of processing was already, plus for school my father and I made steel knives! Historical illustrations in books have always been admired. Here, in the museum, I was shown the principles of working with stone and bone. For a long time my hands got used to it, "Nikolai says, spinning in his hands a hefty stone ax that he made for ... 2 days.

"Now I work with wood, stone, bone, vegetable and animal fiber, I master clay and dressing skins. To create a stone blade, you need a large rock of the desired rock, fairly hard, tough and isotropic. In our region, - Nastya, do not let me lie - this is hornfels, aleurolite, carnelian, chalcedony and jasper. And somewhere else I met the mudstone, but of very poor quality. In general, it takes a large piece, there is a line under 90 degrees plus or minus, and the chips are chipped. Different cultures had different types of knives, not all of them are found in the Far East. There is, for example, an insert knife, a compound product. Retouched or not retouched stone plates are inserted into the wooden or bone holder, and a blade is put out of several. "



The ethnographic remarks of the master Nikolai seem to have been removed from the museum shelves. Brutal grinded knives and small female knives-fish, wooden spectacles with narrow slits, protecting the Eskimos from the blinding snow, a harpoon of bone - all "peeped" in the Neolithic. This era is international. In the ornamentation drawings of anasazi and hococcus, a pre-Columbian tribe from Central America were used. Hence the birthplace of the fertility god, Kokopeli. Rhinoceros - from the Madeleine culture (France), the finale of the glacial period. A jar of coconut is "taken" from Polynesia. Ornament Nicholas applies a silicon flake. Local motifs, for example, Sikachi-Alansky, are few here. Amur petroglyphs master does not reproduce, because because of the great detail and width of lines in miniature, they lose much in aesthetics.      

Across the road is a large regional museum named after Grodekov, whose subdivision is archaeological. Master bacteriologist there - a frequent visitor, studying, absorbs. Subsequently, it is easy for a layman to confuse his novodels with artifacts found on excavations.  


“This layer does not belong to antiquity, and even after 300-500 years archaeologists are unlikely to confuse it,” explains Anastasia Soboleva. - But it looks authentic, even perfect! How diligently and with what perfectionism these things are executed is not subject to discussion. Although, if we analyze the layer of ancient artifacts, we find perfectionism among the ancient masters. Archeology is not a profession, it is a state of mind, and in this regard, Nikolai is no less an archaeologist than we are. He is a broad-minded person and does not get hung up on any topic, he uses the motives of peoples of different eras. "

"Working in different areas of archeology, one has to deal with reconstructions, with restorations, something to do by oneself. It is impossible for us to judge the antiquity and occupation of the primitive man, if we try to approach this only in theory. After all, in 17-19 centuries, some learned stone tools were considered to be a petrified metal! That is why the direction of experimental archeology arose, to debunk many myths, to gain knowledge backed up by practical experience, studying stone processing, pottery, "Anastasia explains.

"There was such a time when theorists on the same ceramics assumed the firing temperature at 400 degrees. After a series of experiments, we were convinced that with the composition of clay dough, which was present in a certain culture, it is generally unrealistic. There is not less than 800, and this is another level of roasting, not just a fire, they were stoves, "continues Nastya.



Photo: master class in the Khabarovsk museum of archeology. 

“We now have classes in molding clay vessels, an 'ancient potter's workshop', making musical instruments, jewelry, Neolithic and Paleolithic 'Venuses', various master classes for visitors. Stone processing is an occupation for a true connoisseur. We inform children that ancient people are not some rude, primitive, unwashed! They were very organized and the Neolithic era is such a field for exploration when you find out that they were no different from us! The same aspirations for development, it is not for nothing that scientists call the era of the New Stone Age revolutionary. Polished tools, amazing work, techniques that, despite their unassuming appearance, are very effective. Our employee tried to chop trees with a stone ax, it was an adze that chops vertically, splitting the wood. He said, as far as I do not seem to be a weak man, I did not even suspect that these muscles exist in me! "

In the context of empirical archeology, it is often recalled about flint-nipping (from English flint - flint, knap - to chip, to crush stone). The adherents of this Western movement, basically, technologically model the processes of antiquity, but - modern tools. Flintneppers conduct regular congresses in national parks, where there are deposits of flint.


Screen: photo gallery on request "flint knapping" in Google 

"After a certain number of knives made, you come to a certain form, and you understand: what Western flintneppers show is very beautiful, but not always functional," argues Nicholas Tsoi. - There are questions as to how the historical canons are observed. It was said that it is very difficult to grind jade. Not true! This knife is made of a piece of stone in two hours. Fans of flippingpeping sit in Instagram, on Youtube there are wonderful channels, where there are a lot of people. There are often questions: "Oh, what a cool knife! And what can they do? ". Not all people realize why they need it. But these are utilitarian things that are necessary for cutting fish, game, meat, they can be cut by mushrooms.

The difference between experimental archaeologists and flintneppers is about the same as between re-enactors and role-players, you understand. Flintneppers find pebbles, they cut them out, to the point that they repeat the shape of the tip, make it lenticular, then the shoulder or elbow squeezer (the device for processing the stone - East Russia) flakes take pictures, and it becomes beautiful, each flake one to one, but it's not like it was done by our ancestors!

I've already made fifty knives, they are in my kitchen. And this is not souvenirs. The sharpness of the stone holds better than steel, because the hardness is higher. During the processing, the microcracking takes place, and it self-sharpens. For the handle, a scraper is needed to scrape off the bark, the top layer of the tree, then the jasper pebble to smooth out, erase the burnt layer, then separately granite pebbles for rough processing to get biface. And then already an elk horn for a soft hibernation and wringing. On the sawtooth edge is visible retouch, I already made it a conical horn - a wisecrack. I make grooves, then I rub them with paint and apply a fixing compound on top, the same wax. For each tool of labor there is also a lot of marriage, 2 / 3 stone goes into the flow, functional products are obtained provided that there are no cracks and foreign impurities in the raw material. To do something worthwhile from the same carnelian without a stone cutting machine, it should be the size of a liter jar. Did any of you see such a stone on the same Cupid, at least with a fist? This is problem".

Fans of primitive people are not alien to the progress achieved. Nikolay Tsoy translates his work in Instagram. Clearly knows its target audience. He says it's not housewives, fishermen and hunters take knives, as well as collectors who are interested in history.


How does the "prehistoric" hobby get along on the everyday life of a bacteriologist, do skills from one area to another help?

“My hobby and work at the Khabarovsk anti-plague station are a bit mutually exclusive processes, simply because I have to deal with dangerous infections, think only about them. These are groups I-II: plague, tularemia, cholera, anthrax! And the workshop is leisure. Knowledge of medicine, biochemistry, physiology, anthropology is very helpful in recreating the way of life and thinking of an ancient man, ”Nikolai enumerates.

on the station.jpg

Photo: Nikolay Tsoy at work at the Khabarovsk antiplague station

"And then we go to the most important", - the word again takes the archaeologist Anastasia. "Many even our grown-up guests, seeing the ancient grinded tools, do not believe, they say, it's alien technology! And I have a question: people, why do not you love yourself like that ?! Their ancestors, who could do it all, and those masters who can now do without tools. In fact, people were the same, only they thought differently. In some ways our development goes exponentially, then, how we can rebuild, operate with different streams of information, breed these flows. Today man is multitasking enough. This question is debatable, and many experts, physiologists, neurophysiologists will argue among themselves how much people have changed. I believe that every time - his own man.

Now most scientists are inclined to believe that we live in an anthropocene age, this is when a person changes everything around, "continues Anastasia. Did you know about this? "If we take globally - Pleistocene, Holocene, anthropocene. To this concept generally began to lean back in the 80, until the last geologists resisted, but they, according to their research, recognized that even at a geological level a person changes everything. If memory serves me well, research in Chernobyl has become the key. The same oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico affected many levels. In the causes of the same flood 2013 year on the Amur is anthropogenic factor. Flood conditions have contributed to perennial fires and deforestation. Not all the consequences have been studied, but the gradation of animals has changed. 

In general, now is the digital age, the age of technology, when almost everything is moving into virtual space. And it helps science! We were shown our Amur Nefertiti, a few more artifacts, the 3D model was made by photometry (photo of the object from different angles - East Russia). Thanks to photometry, we discovered new petroglyphs on the Amur. So you look at a stone - you will not see anything, and shooting allows you to see the ornament, which has practically leveled off, smoothed out. Then they take pictures from quadrocopters, sometimes only a glance from a height allows you to see what it is, ”Anastasia Soboleva admires.

Nikolai Tsoi finds material for his products in the forest and along the banks of rivers. In the city, though, the stone is lying on the road, but it does not work for work: because of the piling of piles and the work of heavy equipment, the base soil is cracking, and with it a stone. Outside the city, the handyman conducts "work with witnesses" -shows samples, and ask the local if the same is in their area. The tree for the knife arms is forestry, but it is also suitable for the city. "As for the tree - I like working with burnt products. Carbonation increases the service life, the surface turns into coal, I clean it, can be pieces of sandstone or a broken ceramic mug, after firing irregularities leave, the wood becomes harder. In general, I do everything my hands reach. It is possible that in one of the expeditions scheduled for the summer, you can try to make drawings on tuff blocks. " "The main thing is to find them not in a historical place!" Anastasia interjects. "Yes, I do not argue," continues Nikolay. "If people come and draw on these stones with keys, it's about something, yes it says! Tuff is a soft, porous material. Plus large grains, it's like drawing on sandstone.

I always want more, it's like a drug! I made a stone ax, now I want to do something with a stone ax. I made a knife, I want to make something with a stone knife. That is, I made tools, went out into the woods, and make myself a tool for this life. No matter how much I go to the taiga, I never want to go back. It is quite a real prospect that I will one day leave, and will not return. "


Photo: Archer on the hill of the Two Brothers. Alexey Timirgaleev, Anton Shevchenko, Nikolay Tsoi.

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