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Archaeology

Stone tools not out of Africa

Credit: Daniel S. Adler

An advanced method of making stone tools did not spread out of Africa in a single wave as once thought, but evolved independently among different groups of early humans in Eurasia and Africa.

Stone-tool-making technology changed 400,000 to 200,000 years ago from a process whereby tools were made by chipping off and discarding flakes to shape a rock, to a more complex technique whereby the rock is first shaped (pictured left) in order to flake off pieces (pictured, right) for later use. Daniel Adler of the University of Connecticut in Storrs and his colleagues analysed artefacts, from a 325,000-year-old archaeological site in Armenia, that were made by both methods and report that the objects were from the same archaeological layer.

The finding is the earliest evidence of the simultaneous use of the older 'bifacial' and the more complex 'Levallois' technologies outside of Africa, and suggests that the latter did not suddenly replace the former, the authors argue.

Science 345, 1609–1613 (2014)

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Stone tools not out of Africa. Nature 514, 9 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/514009a

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