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December 21, 2009
Archaeology is not only a search for the possessions, skills and beliefs of ancient cultures. It is also about living spaces.
Recent excavations in Israel appear to show that Stone Age ancestors began at a surprisingly early stage to organize their open-air living spaces into separate clusters for different activities. One area was primarily for preparing and eating food and another, more than 25 feet away, for most of their manufacturing of stone tools.
Archaeologists who reported the findings last week in the journal Science said that having the discrete areas for different activities indicated “a formalized conceptualization of a living space, often considered to reflect sophisticated cognition.”
And the surprise, they said, was to find the evidence for it at an encampment that was occupied as early as 790,000 years ago. Such living and working patterns were previously thought to be associated only with modern Homo sapiens and thus a behavior that emerged in the last 200,000 years.
Tools Give Earlier Date For ‘modern-Thinking’ Humans
ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2008) — An international team, including Oxford University archaeologists, has dated two explosions of sophisticated stone tool making in southern Africa much more precisely than has previously been possible.
A Howieson's Poort segment from Ntolana Tsoana, in Lesotho, made in opaline, a fine-grained flint-like rock. Recent work suggests such artefacts would have been fitted into wooden or possibly bone handles. A variety of designs are possible, for example putting several of them in series to form an extended cutting edge, using them to barb spears or possibly to arm arrows.
How Modern Were European Neanderthals?
ScienceDaily (Aug. 28, 2006) — Neandertals were much more like modern humans than had been previously thought, according to a re-examination of finds from one of the most famous palaeolithic sites in Europe by Bristol University archaeologist, Professor Joao Zilhao, and his French colleagues.
Image of personal ornaments (pierced fox canines) from the Chatelperronian culture