‘The Carrier Bag’
October 2020

In 1986, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction. In it, she introduced the anthropologist Elizabeth Fisher’s argument that ‘the first cultural device was probably a recipient’, such as a pouch, net, or bag, rather than some sort of implement of violence (i.e., the spear). Even if no one can prove that a bag was the first cultural device due to the durability of the material, the principal food (65-80%) of early hominid was vegetables, so they had to develop containers to hold them.

When I asked Google about the ‘first human artifact’, I could not find any reference to bags, but an unlimited catalogue of hand axes.