NewsNews5 Originals


600-thousand-year-old stone tools inherited by UCCS from artist

Posted at 3:52 PM, Aug 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-26 17:52:35-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) received a donated collection of stone tools as old as 300-thousand to 600-thousand-years-old in July of this year. The collection is housed and curated by the university's anthropology department.

Nearly 1,000 of a 1,500 tool collection were provided by Tony Berlant, a California-based artist, who collected the artifacts over his lifetime.

Dr. Thomas Wynn, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at UCCS and a long-time friend and colleague of Berlant's, assisted with the acquisition of the collection amid Berlant's declining health.

"If we don't understand how we got here, it's much more difficult to understand the problems that we're having."
Dr. Thomas Wynn

Wynn said he has been studying artifacts like the ones donated to UCCS since 1975.

"Archeology is really a set of methods for recovering ... it's like crime scene investigation," said Wynn.

He said it is pieces of expression from the past, like those in the collection, that enable the understanding of modern artistic experiences.

We tend not to think about it very much, but a lot of how we communicate with one and other is done with material culture ... We use our tools to send messages about ourselves.
Dr. Thomas Wynn

Wynn compared the different artifact sizes, shapes, and materials to the sizes, shapes, and materials of modern technology like phones, vehicles, and clothing.

"Whoever made this was making an expression of his or her impulse to create," said Wynn.

Pieces of the collection can be viewed on display at UCCS' Centennial Hall.

"There's some connection I have with the Neandertals who collected [these tools] ... Some things are very old and are just embedded very deeply in our consciousness," said Wynn.

Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.