Equipment in the Stone Age

Loren SmallDeep Dive, Game Dev, Game DevelopmentLeave a Comment

inside a cave - campsite with fire and furs

A Glimpse into Our Ancestors’ Ingenious Weapons and Tools

The Stone Age, spanning millions of years, was a time of profound innovation and adaptability. As I delved deep into research for Born from Ice, I found myself constantly in awe of our ancestors’ sheer resilience and inventiveness. The tools and equipment they devised, often from rudimentary materials, played pivotal roles in their daily survival, shaping the course of human evolution.

Drawing from archeological findings and anthropological studies, I tried to accurately depict equipment in game. Let’s take a look at just a small sampling of the type of equipment included in Born from Ice.

The Tools of Survival

Simple Weapons: The weapons of the Stone Age were simple yet effective. Made from bone, stone, and wood, these weapons served dual purposes—tools for daily survival and protection against threats.

  • Bone Dagger: This dagger, often with a leather grip, was essential for hunting and self-defense. Often found in archeological sites across Europe and Asia, these daggers reveal the versatility of bone as a material. The edges were finely sharpened, and the handle often featured intricate carvings, indicating a blend of functionality and artistry.
  • Hafted Axe & Handaxe: The discovery of the hafted axe, especially in regions like Scandinavia, showcases the early human understanding of leverage. By attaching a rock flake blade to a wooden handle, our ancestors increased the force of their blows, making tasks like chopping wood or butchering game more efficient.
  • Javelin & Spears: Spears, with their varied designs, have been discovered worldwide. The Schöningen spears, found in Germany, are among the oldest preserved hunting weapons in the world. Made from spruce trunks, they highlight the precision and skill of early craftsmen. No matter where they were found, spears were indispensable. Used for fishing, hunting, or combat, spears were a major element in human survival and ingenuity. The stone-tipped spear (a process known as hafting) showcases the evolution of weaponry; by adding a stone tip, the impact of the spear was greater, could more easily pierce the target, and could cause bleeding and a quicker death.
  • Light Club & War Club: Clubs were the go-to weapons for many, ideal for delivering powerful blows to enemies or hunting prey. But they were more than just blunt weapons. In regions like the Pacific Northwest, clubs were often adorned with symbols and stories, reflecting the cultural and spiritual significance of warfare.

The First Line of Defense

Armor, as traditionally thought of, didn’t exist in the Stone Age. Instead, people relied on their clothing for protection from the elements and potential threats. In Born from Ice, I’ve moved clothing into different armor categories for gameplay purposes. Different types of clothing offer not just daily function but varying levels of defense:

  • Light Armor (e.g., Leather Clothes, Winter Light Clothes): Leather, being versatile and durable, was a staple of daily wear. The Ötzi the Iceman discovery in the Alpsa mummy from around 3300 BCE—revealed a complete ensemble of leather and grass clothing, providing insights into the clothing techniques of the era.
  • Medium Armor (e.g., Strong Leather Hides, Winter Clothes): These clothes, made of heavier leather or lined with furs, were donned by warriors or those venturing into the wilderness for extended periods. Heavier clothing was often adorned with intricate beadwork or embroidery and indicated status within the tribe. They provided protection against the elements and were often a symbol of prestige.
  • Heavy Armor (e.g., Bear Skin Jacket, Bone Breastplate): These rare pieces that include use of bear skin or mammoth hide was not just about defense but also a display of prowess and status. Such armors were often worn by tribal leaders, legendary hunters, or acclaimed warriors, signifying their strength and dominance. Hides and bones of large or dangerous creatures would have provided much benefit to a tribe, so dedicating those precious materials to clothing was truly a mark of distinction, respect, or fear.

Daily Essentials

Our ancestors’ daily life was a blend of challenges and ingenuity. The tools and equipment they used were tailored to their immediate environment and needs. Many items we might take for granted today were innovations of that era:

  • Backpack & Basket: Woven from plant fibers or animal sinew, these were essential for foraging expeditions. The basketry techniques, as seen in artifacts from sites like the Windover Bog in Florida, were incredibly advanced, highlighting the aesthetic values of the time.
  • Bow Drill: Fire was a lifeline. The bow drill, with its intricate mechanism, is an ingenious tool that revolutionized fire-making, providing warmth and allowing for cooked meals.
  • Pot Stone: Cooking was both a necessity and a communal activity. The use of pot stones revolutionized cooking, allowing for a more diverse diet.

Crafting the Future

The tools and kits used by early humans were not just about survival; they were about innovation and advancement, and building a better quality of life. From Leatherworking tools that transformed animal hides into protective clothing, to Pottery tools shaping clay into vessels, these tools were instrumental in the evolution of early cultures.

  • Flint Knapping tools: The art of shaping stone into sharp-edged implements is as old as humanity itself. Sites like the Blombos Cave in South Africa have revealed intricately crafted stone tools, indicating a rich tradition of craftsmanship.
  • Sewing tools: The humble bone needle, paired with sinew, was vital for crafting clothing, tents, and other essential items.
  • Woodworking tools: These allowed early humans to carve intricate patterns, craft weapons, and even create art, like the Shigir Idol in Russia.

Reflecting on the Past

The Stone Age, often seen as a time of rudimentary survival, was, in fact, an era of profound innovation and cultural evolution. The equipment used by our ancestors tells a story of resilience, adaptability, and creativity. In Born from Ice, I’ve sought to capture this spirit, offering players a glimpse into the world that shaped our very existence. Through the game, I hope players can appreciate the legacy of craftsmanship that shaped humanity’s journey.