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科学美国人60秒: 古代屠夫使用石头刀片

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Early Butchers Used Small Stone Scalpels

古代屠夫使用石头刀片

Archaeologists have spent a lot of time analyzing the flashiest objects recovered at ancient sites. But now they’re giving a second look at the waste and finding that it, too, tells tales about a culture. For example, 8,000-year-old poop recently revealed parasitic infections among people who lived in settlements versus their hunter-gatherer counterparts. And now archaeologists have examined another overlooked artifact—small stone flakes, typically thought to be by-products from the production of tools like hand axes and cleavers.

考古学家花了很多时间分析在古代遗址中发现的”最耀眼”的物体。但现在他们重新审视了这种废物,发现它也讲述了一种文化的故事。例如,最近,有8000年历史的粪便揭示,与以狩猎采集为生的粪便相比,居住在居民点的粪便感染了寄生虫。现在考古学家们又研究了另一件被忽视的艺术品——小石片,通常被认为是手工斧和砍刀等工具生产的副产品。

“It was not easy to convince the scientific community that there is value to studying these items, because they were regarded just as waste.”

“要让科学界相信研究这些项目是有价值的并不容易,因为这些物品被视为废物。”

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Ran Barkai, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University. His team studied 283 stone flakes found in Israel, at a site inhabited by our Homo erectus relatives, half a million years ago.

特拉维夫大学考古学家Ran Barkai说。他的团队研究了在以色列发现的283块石片,这些石片是在50万年前直立人的近亲居住的地方发现的。

They found evidence of use—like small fractures—along the edges of the inch-long flakes. But they also discovered bits of bone and flesh still sticking to the tiny blades—flesh that could have come from elephants. The big mammals were much more widespread back then and were a prominent source of protein for early humans in that area.

他们发现了一些证据,—些1英寸长的薄片边缘存在着类似于人类使用过的小裂缝。但是他们也发现了一些骨头和肉仍然粘在小刀片上——这些小肉可能来自大象。那时,大型哺乳动物的分布更为广泛,同时也是该地区早期人类的重要蛋白质来源。

The team then tested replicas of the flakes to butcher wild boars and deer and sheep. And they concluded that such tools would have been really useful to ancient hunters—for skinning hides, filleting meat and scraping every bit of nutrition out of an animal. Details and photos of the small scalpels are in the journal Scientific Reports.

然后,研究小组对这些薄片的复制品进行了测试,以屠宰野猪、鹿和羊。他们得出的结论是,这些工具对古代猎人来说非常有用——剥去兽皮,切成片,从动物身上刮去所有的营养物质。这些小刀片的细节和照片发表在《科学报告》杂志上。

Barkai also says the tiny flakes suggest these people were more sophisticated than they get credit for. “Walmarts were nonexistent at the time. So they had to do everything by themselves. And the fact that they survived and thrived for hundreds of thousands of years tells me they were highly capable, highly intelligent. I’m sure they were no less capable than us. And if not for their intelligence, we wouldn’t be here.”

Barkai同时也表示,这些小刀片表明,古代人类比人们认为的要聪明。当时还没有沃尔玛。所以,所有的事情都得亲力亲为。人类存活并繁荣了几十万年的事实告诉我,古代人类非常能干,非常聪明。我肯定他们的能力不比我们差。如果没有他们的智慧,我们就不会在这里。”

Early Butchers Used Small Stone Scalpels

Archaeologists have spent a lot of time analyzing the flashiest objects recovered at ancient sites. But now they’re giving a second look at the waste and finding that it, too, tells tales about a culture. For example, 8,000-year-old poop recently revealed parasitic infections among people who lived in settlements versus their hunter-gatherer counterparts. And now archaeologists have examined another overlooked artifact—small stone flakes, typically thought to be by-products from the production of tools like hand axes and cleavers.

“It was not easy to convince the scientific community that there is value to studying these items, because they were regarded just as waste.”

Ran Barkai, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University. His team studied 283 stone flakes found in Israel, at a site inhabited by our Homo erectus relatives, half a million years ago.

They found evidence of use—like small fractures—along the edges of the inch-long flakes. But they also discovered bits of bone and flesh still sticking to the tiny blades—flesh that could have come from elephants. The big mammals were much more widespread back then and were a prominent source of protein for early humans in that area.

The team then tested replicas of the flakes to butcher wild boars and deer and sheep. And they concluded that such tools would have been really useful to ancient hunters—for skinning hides, filleting meat and scraping every bit of nutrition out of an animal. Details and photos of the small scalpels are in the journal Scientific Reports.

Barkai also says the tiny flakes suggest these people were more sophisticated than they get credit for. “Walmarts were nonexistent at the time. So they had to do everything by themselves. And the fact that they survived and thrived for hundreds of thousands of years tells me they were highly capable, highly intelligent. I’m sure they were no less capable than us. And if not for their intelligence, we wouldn’t be here.”


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