Today's junk can be tomorrow's history. Now, 50 years after it was first introduced, the ring-tab beer can can already considered an historic artefact.
Archaeology site Western Digs explains that the humble ring-tab design has passed the 50-year threshold after which it is eligible to be recorded as an archaeological find. "This means that even beverage-can pull tabs are eligible for protection under state and federal laws," explained William Schroeder, an archaeologist at firm Reiss-Landreau Research, to Western Digs.
Schroeder came to the realisation when he was involved in a dig that unearthed some refuse — much of which appeared to be "vintage", in his words. While he identified some of the packaging, dating the objects to 1968 — a little shy of the 50-year cut-off — he realised that provision must be made so archaeologists could actually use pull-tabs to date sites more accurately over the coming decades.
Indeed, there's a surprisingly rich history of mapping out the changing style of can ring-tabs, so Schroeder has assembled existing evidence into a "key card" that archaeologists can use when they're out in the field. The earliest style described on the card was manufactured in 1965 — making it old enough to be considered an archaeological artefact.
Those first tabs were in fact discontinued in 1975 because their design — a solid aluminium tab with no ring — saw mane people accidentally swallow them. Fortunately, history has changed the pull-tab for the better. [Western Digs]
Picture: Shawn Bagley/Flickr