Ancient spear pre-dates humankind

By | Science & Technology
photo © Brendan Hoffman

From research, Homo sapiens have been present on earth for approximately 195,000 years. The dawn of man may conjure images of the cave art, fire and crafted stone tools; expressions of early human cognitive ability which elevated from competition. The competition was assumed to be incapable of crafting intricate stone tools and weapons. With this being said how may these previous statements be true if stone tools, an item attributed so strongly towards Homo sapiens, pre-date existence by nearly 85,000 years.

Africa, the birthplace of humankind and it is the first port of call, for any anthropologist attempting to ascertain length of existence and history. The ancient human fossils found in Africa have been aged at 195,000 years old, whilst genetic analysis applies a similar estimated age of 200,000 years to the human race. Yet recently, a team of archaeologists from the University of California have discovered the ancient known stone-tipped throwing spears and analysis puzzlingly suggests they may be 280,000 years. The Ethiopian Stone Age dig site known as Gademotta, produced several spear heads which now raises several questions; is the human race far more historic than presumed? Or were ancestors far more astute than previously thought? Either answer may result in a complete change in the way understanding the past and the way in which humans develop.

Whilst the idea of ancient humans may be an innovative concept, the data and the specific nature of these finds imply a much earlier Hominid that possessed a level of modern sentience. A member of the University of California’s Gademotta research team, Yonatan Sahle, states the site is a stone age settlement positioned next a stable sizeable body of water, going on to call it a “mega-lake”. Such an environment would provide ample amounts of high-quality raw materials allowing stable communities to settle close by.

With resources a species might have received a relative increase in time and energy it may spend upon intensive thought processes, and with denser communities new skills possibly spread quickly through the community.

Furthermore, without the challenges which accompany survival in reduced resource rich areas, early hominids might essentially have developed hobbies to pass extra time gained from comfortable living. This goes towards explaining why artifacts of this type have been discovered in this very specific area, although this does point out a method of finding other similar sites, if they do in fact exist.

It may seem technological advances were needlessly associated with anatomical changes like once was thought. Stable occupations seemed to be the one factor necessary to fuel technological advances in earlier Hominids, allowing energies to be refocused and new skills to be mastered. Researchers have hypothesised that the most likely manufacturer of these tools are a relatively undiscussed species known as Homo heidelbergensis; also known as heidelberg men.

The heidelberg man was present in Africa, Europe and western Asia from at least 600,000 years ago, a temporal range that encompasses the first known production of stone tools. Many believe this species was actually the direct ancestor to Homo sapiens, a theory might explain such an analogous display of cognitive ability within similar species. A concept further supported by the disappearance of heidelberg men from the fossil record 200,000 years ago; a period of time that coincides with the divergence Homo sapiens from their most recent ancestor.

If the heidelberg men were direct ancestors, what level of intellect did they truly possess and what else might they have discovered before humans entered the equation?

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