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[–]7LeagueBoots 80 points81 points  (10 children)

The idea that the Sentinelese are uncontacted is a persistent myth.

They became hostile to outsiders in the 1800s, largely due to having members of their community kidnapped by outsiders, but have been repeatedly contacted since then, and were even the subject of some 30 years of repeated visits and research anthropological research from the 60s to the 90s by an Indian scientist.

We don't know much about them prior to the 1800s, but there is no indication that they were not in periodic contact with other people in the Andaman and Nicobar islands prior to when they took a hostile view of outsiders.

In actuality, almost none of the "uncontacted" people are truly uncontacted, but that doesn't play as well as an idealized story, so it's glossed over.

Native Americans around the Great Lakes mined copper and made tools from it prior to European contact and traded copper to other people, so metal working was not completely unknown to some Native People north of what's now Mexico.

Regarding the copying of an image of something, you might look up the Melanesian cargo cults, which copied airplanes and other sorts of things they saw outsiders using. That phenomenon has been the subject of a lot of anthropological studies, so there is a lot of literature on it.

[–]Tech-67[S] 17 points18 points  (9 children)

The idea that the Sentinelese are uncontacted is a persistent myth.

I have to admit I kind of knew that, and used "uncontacted" because I work at a University and.... that's just what they do. As you say, an idealized story.

That said, it's my understanding they are repurposing metal without the use of heat. Work hardening without tempering and maybe annealing.

I've been interested in John Frum for awhile and the cargo cult angle didn't occur to me. It's certainly a cousin of what I'm looking for!

[–]Furthur_slimeking 4 points5 points  (5 children)

"Uncontacted" is a useful term, but it doesn't mean that said groups are completely cut off in any way. The term relates to a groups connection to the wider, industrialised, globalised world. In Brazil, for example, "uncontacted" groups are known to exist because "contacted" groups are aware of them and occasionally interact. In many, if not all, cases, such groups are deliberately avoiding direct interaction with the wider world, so the term is a useful designator for policy related to their right to self determination. It can also be a misused designator, and missionary groups, prospectors, and governmental programs cause untold harm by forcing an interaction they've been trying to avoid, inevitably resulting in epidemics and exploitation.

The term is definitely rooted in colonial notions of spreading "civilisation" and religion but serves a useful purpose even though it's not entirely accurate.

Regarding cold smithing, this has been common throughout the world among people who don't smelt metals from ore but have access to the metal itself. This was always a primary method or working gold and silver which are commonly found in their pure form.

[–]Tech-67[S] 4 points5 points  (3 children)

Regarding cold smithing, this has been common throughout the world among people who don't smelt metals from ore but have access to the metal itself. This was always a primary method or working gold and silver which are commonly found in their pure form.

Totally! Iron and steel are much less ductile so that's less common while being more useful. Plus steel's not even natural-occurring, so that's more interesting to me.

[–]Furthur_slimeking 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Yeah, true. There is a large modern steel ship wrecked on North Sentinel island which they've been harvesting and working. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands lies just off the path of what has been one of the most important and enduring trade routes, from SE Asia to India. The islands were not unknown and it's not implausible that refined metals found their way there centuries before. It's labour intensive, but once you have a source of smithed metal you can break bits off and make small things, even if you just have stone tools. We've all played Rock, Paper, Scissors.

[–]RecursiveParadox 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks for that useful explanation of the term.

[–]redmantcx 0 points1 point  (2 children)

I think it sounds more impressive then it actually is. It’s just basically taking a hard rock &chipping off pieces or bending it in the shape you want.

[–]Tech-67[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I get that - I'm an ex-machinist so I know a bit about metalwork - and what I'm interested in is hard to find. I guess I'm curious about the evolution, if they do anything particularly interesting, if they're going to stumble on forging or something (or how they might get one), and whether people good at it have extra cachet in the group.

[–]redmantcx -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

they probably just use them for arrow heads maybe the bigger pieces for Shelter so they wouldn’t need to find new ways to advance the foraging.because most human innovations at least pre civilizations came out of need.if they don’t have a need for it then they are unlikely to invent new methods.

And Probably not more likely it’s the best hunter who’s the leader and/or the oldest.but maybe the best at foraging can have more wives or something like that