It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
It wasn’t exclusively the arrival of new people from Africa with new technology that changed the stone tool repertoire of early humans in Eurasia a few hundred thousand years ago—it was local populations in different places and times gradually and independently wising up to a better industry on their own.
Based on comparisons of archaeological data from sites in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, the study authors suggest that this change was gradual and intermittent, and that it occurred independently within different human populations who shared a common technological ancestry. In other words Levallois technology evolved out of pre-existing biface technology in different places at different times.
The discovery of Nor Geghi 1 (NG1), July 2008, with Basalt 1 (top) and stratigraphic Units 1–5. N. Researchers Wales and P. Glauberman are pictured. Credit: Daniel S. Adler
Representative stratigraphic section of Nor Geghi 1 (NG1), with Basalt 1 (top) and Units 1–5, following the 2009 field season. Credit: Daniel S. Adler
Technological variability at Nor Geghi 1 (NG1). A) Biface with two biface resharpening/thinning flakes. B–C) Levallois cores with Levallois flakes. D) Blade core with blade. A) The biface is the desired product, with the flakes detached during shaping and resharpening treated as waste. B–D) The flakes and blades are the desired products and were used in an unmodified state or retouched into a variety of tool types. Credit: Daniel S. Adler
Technological evolution and variability at Nor Geghi 1 (NG1). A) bifaces, B) Levallois cores. Credit: Daniel S. Adler
Stone Tools Point to Two Distinct Neanderthal Cultures
Aug 20, 2013 by Enrico de Lazaro
« PREVIOUS | NEXT »
A study of 1,300 stone hand axes found at 80 Neanderthal sites in France, Germany, Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands shows that two cultural traditions existed among Neanderthals living in what is now northern Europe between 115,000 to 35,000 years ago.
Location of the study sites and Neanderthal cultures: Mousterian of Acheulean Tradition, MTA, Keilmessergruppen, KMG, and transitional – Mousterian with Bifacial Tools, MBT (Karen Ruebens)
Two separate hand axe traditions or designs existed – the Mousterian of Acheulean Tradition in a region now spanning south-western France and Britain and the Keilmessergruppen Tradition in Germany and further to the East, according to study author Dr Karen Ruebens from the University of Southampton, who reported the results in the Journal of Human Evolution. She also identified an area covering modern day Belgium and the Netherlands that demonstrates a transition between the two.
“In Germany and France there appears to be two separate hand axe traditions, with clear boundaries, indicating completely separate, independent developments,” Dr Ruebens commented.
“The transition zone in Belgium and Northern France indicates contact between the different groups of Neanderthals, which is generally difficult to identify but has been much talked about, especially in relation to later contacts with groups of modern humans.”
“This area can be seen as a melting pot of ideas where mobile groups of Neanderthals, both from the eastern and western tradition, would pass by – influencing each other’s designs and leaving behind a more varied record of bifacial tools.”
Neanderthals in the western region made symmetrical, triangular and heart-shaped hand axes, while during the same time period, in the eastern region, they produced asymmetrically shaped bifacial knives.
“Distinct ways of making a hand axe were passed on from generation to generation and for long enough to become visible in the archaeological record. This indicates a strong mechanism of social learning within these two groups and says something about the stability and connectivity of the Neanderthal populations,” Dr Ruebens said.
“Making stone tools was not merely an opportunistic task. A lot of time, effort and tradition were invested and these tools carry a certain amount of socio-cultural information, which does not contribute directly to their function.”
The analysis also reveals other factors which could have influenced hand axe design, such as raw material availability to Neanderthals, the function of their sites, or the repeated reuse and sharpening of tools – didn’t have an impact in this instance.
The study adds a new archaeological perspective on Neanderthal regionality, which is a concept also identified in studies of their skeletal and genetic features.