Tuesday, October 18, 2011
'Modern' blade production started much earlier than previously thought
A new discovery by researchers at Tel Aviv University has pushed back the production of sophisticated blade hundreds of thousands of years earlier than originally thought.
Archaeology has long associated advanced blade production with the Upper Palaeolithic period, about 30,000-40,000 years ago, linked with the emergence of Homo sapiens and cultural features such as cave art.
Now, researchers at Tel Aviv University have uncovered evidence which reveals that "modern" blade production was also an element of Amudian industry during the late Lower Paleolithic period, 200,000-400,000 years ago as part of the Acheulo-Yabrudian cultural complex, a geographically limited group of hominins who lived in modern-day Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
Prof. Avi Gopher, Dr. Ran Barkai and Dr. Ron Shimelmitz of TAU's Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations said that large numbers of long, slender cutting tools were discovered at Qesem Cave, located outside of Tel Aviv, Israel.
This discovery challenges the notion that blade production is exclusively linked with recent modern humans.
The blades are the product of a well-planned "production line," stated Dr. Barkai.
Every element of the blades, from the choice of raw material to the production method itself, points to a sophisticated tool production system to rival the blade technology used hundreds of thousands of years later.
The findings were described recently in the Journal of Human Evolution.