04 January 2010

Keepin' it tidy?

In an interesting parallel with my own research on households, domestic economy and use of space, archaeologists in Israel have found evidence that the discrete organization of space dates back to our earliest hominin ancestors. According to a new study in Science (see follow-up article in New York Times and image on right), the "origins of tidiness" can be found in the rock shelter homes of early Neandertals (50 - 70,000 years ago) where domestic space, even inside a cave, was consciously divided into activity areas or zones for cooking, tool making, etc. While this is certainly an interesting window on to the cognitive mind of early hominins, the use of the word "tidy" for this article is a bit misleading. Just because work was divided among areas doesn't mean these areas were kept clean and tidy, at least up to our modern-day Martha Stewart standards. Though I imagine in such close quarters, trash and unkempt spaces could quickly turn in to problems for safety and health.

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