Art of making tools 55,000 years older than previously thought

October 29th, 2010 - 1:07 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Oct 29 (ANI): For a long time, it was thought that the art of shaping stones into sharp-edged points originated about 20,000 years ago, but a new study has revealed that it may in fact, have started around 75,000 years ago.

A study of stone tools from Blombos Cave in South Africa has suggested that tool making techniques are at least 50,000 years older than previously thought.

The tool-making technique, called pressure flaking, involves using an animal bone or some other object to exert pressure near the edge of a stone piece and carve out a relatively small flake.

A toolmaker would typically first strike a stone with hammer-like tools to give the piece its initial shape; then they would use pressure-flaking to refine the blade’s edges and shape its tip.

Vincent Mourre and colleagues from France and South Africa analyzed some silcrete stone points from Blombos Cave that were probably tied to spears and used as hunting weapons.

They analyzed the points in microsopic detail and compared them to points that they made experimentally, by heating and pressure-flaking silcrete that they collected from outcrops near Blombos Cave.

The similarities between the artefacts and the modern recreations suggest that the toolmakers of Blombos Cave used pressure-flaking about 75,000 years ago.

The authors speculate that a flexible approach to technology in this region may have conferred an advantage to the groups of humans that migrated out of Africa after roughly 60,000 years ago. (ANI)

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