The carving of stone has been around since recorded history and well before. But do we know how and why early people chose to carve stone? Most stone is hard and heavy, significantly more difficult to carve than wood, yet early peoples around the globe made the efforts to carve this material. The oldest know carvings are called Petroglyphs.
Petroglyphs are from the Neolithic times (12,000-6,500 BP) before humans figured out how to make metal tools. The etchings were simply done using a harder stone to scrape a softer stone. Because it was difficult to remove stone this way, petroglyphs are generally very shallow engravings.
These early images are fascinating and mysterious. Are they stories? Do they represent gods or just nearby animals? Archaeologists are still working on it.
Different terms for dates / years
BCE (Before Common Era) = BC (before Christ)
AD (Anno Domini) = birthyear of Jesus
*we are 2020 AD – 2,020 years after Jesus was born.
BP (Before Present) = “years ago”
Discovery of metal
Early people found copper in rocks and realized that metal could be shaped into useful tools and decorative jewelry. They melted copper over a fire and added a bit of tin to the mix, making a new and harder alloy called Bronze. There is not a lot known about the early smelting of metal, but early peoples likely had figured out how to fire clay to make ceramic vessels. Ceramics can withstand very high heat and possibly this led to the ability to melt and cast metals. With bronze, the first useful metal tools were made for activities including carving stone.