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Creation 27(4):13, September 2005

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The Stone ‘Age’—a figment of the imagination?



Ever wonder where the term ‘Stone Age’ came from? It is everywhere—the supposed ‘fact’ that prehistoric humans used stone tools for over two million years before they learned how to find and use metal. Then they began using bronze, and iron only came later.

But the evidence from archaeology is not as clear–cut as you might think.

Christian Thompson, the man who invented the ‘three–age’ system—the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age—was actually a coin collector who was appointed the first head of the Danish National Museum, despite being largely untrained.

His job was to find a classification system that would bring some order to the jumbled human artifacts (tools, weapons, ornaments and so on) piled around the museum.

His successor at the museum, an archaeologist named J.J.A. Worsaae, went looking for evidence of this sequence at dig sites around Europe—beginning with an excavation of burial sites in Ireland, where he found lots of stone, brass and iron tools.

It is commonly claimed that Wor­saae found these artefacts in the three layers proposed by his predecessor,1 but in fact, if you check his work, he actually said that you can establish nothing from the tools he dug up directly from the peat moss, because in such a peat bog, the iron, bronze and stone tools are all mixed together.

He also found tombs containing either bronze, stone or iron sets of tools. So why did he conclude that these burials occurred in the three–age sequence? Because the sites with stone implements contained actual bodies, whereas the sites with bronze had only ashes, indicating that the people practised cremation and thus were ‘obviously’ more advanced! Yet even this dubious argument is undermined by the fact that the people who had iron tools apparently went back to burying bodies.

Modern archaeologists now ack­now­ledge that the Stone–Bronze–Iron Age system is not very helpful outside Europe.

One wonders if it is valid anywhere. It appears to be mostly just another instance of dogma about ‘human progress’ that has been imposed on the evidence.

While there has been a sequence to technological innovation, all the basics were well advanced long before Noah’s Flood in the days of Tubal–cain, who ‘forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron’ (Genesis 4:22).


  1. Worsaae, J.J.A., The Primeval Antiquities of Denmark, transl. by W.J. Thoms, London, John Henry Parker, 1849. Return to text.

ROBERT NIEMAND is a pen–name used when an article is the product of multiple contributors/writers in such a way as to make it difficult to properly ascribe authorship. (Leaving it unauthored or ‘anonymous’ might erroneously imply an author’s unwillingness to take responsibility for the contents). Return to top

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Readers’ comments

John R.
All neo-Darwinian evolution theories are based on an unwarranted extrapolation beyond the actually observed physical evidence, to a conclusion, that has never been observed.
Chuck R.
There is only really one sin, rejection of God (we express it many ways) which is why many people are happy to, even eager to accept evolutionary just so stories. Evolution 'facts' are conjecture and speculation filled scenarios that give a desired explanation to simply feed our need to reject God and give us license to live however we want.
Dan M.
Tubal-cain Worked with metals before the flood so it is not inconceivable that Noah would have used this technology of the day in building the ark. Noah could have used metal connections to tie the structure together making it very sea worthy. In other words, it wasn't the rickety and leaky contraption depicted in the recent movie Noah with Russell Crowe, (I wish hollywood would stop making so called biblical movies or get it right)!
Our forefathers were not knuckle dragging idiots! Just look at all the colossal monuments like the pyramids that were built shortly after the flood or the Greek mechanical computer recovered from the mediterranean. These ancient people were just as intelligent as we are and are responsible for the previous technology that we have BUILT ON to arrive where we are this day!
Scientific concepts, (especially archeology) constantly shift like the sands of the desert so what makes one think the secularists got it right this time. Sad to say there is much deception in the scientific community nowadays whether outright or self deception and it hurts real honest science. In other words who do you trust! The short answer is, ready, TRUST IN THE LORD! He gave us the correct history in the scriptures and it fits perfectly, (as far as we can understand) if you are willing to give it a chance.
God is not a man that he should lie! Num 23:19
Jeannette P.
Since when was burial more "Advanced" than cremation? Or was that the other way around?!!! Wilful stupidity, as in Romans 1.
stuart R.
The ark of the covenant was being constructed had to be made from expensive materials such as gold and acacia wood. They definitely had skill with gold smithing in order to make the gold rings, cherubim and gold plating around the outside of the ark. Exodus 25 10-22
Dean R.
Modernism bashing us over the head & dragging society along half unconscious, bruised by bias & dogma. Reminds me also of the dinosaur exhibits that fail to inform us of all the other living things that lived together, creating the illusion of land before time, pre historic ideas and all that stuff. The people that forgot about land and time by implementing assumptions.

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