May 22, 2024

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Study: Ancient humans made deadly wooden weapons 300,000 years ago

Study: Ancient humans made deadly wooden weapons 300,000 years ago

Powerful new imaging techniques reveal that humans were already making complex hunting weapons from wood 300,000 years ago, upending the Stone Age stereotype.

Archaeologists have already suspected Humans have used wooden tools for at least as long as stone tools, but due to the more fragile nature of wood, most of the evidence has rotted away.

Now, using 3D microscopy and micro-CT scanners to examine 187 wooden artifacts from Schöningen in Germany, archaeologist Dirk Lederer of the Lower Saxony State Office for Cultural Heritage and his colleagues have confirmed these suspicions.

“Wood was a crucial raw material for human evolution, but it only survived the Stone Age in Schöningen Paleolithic era The period is of such wonderful quality.” He explains University of Göttingen archaeologist Thomas Terberger.

This cache of wooden artifacts is the largest known Pleistocene (2,58 to 11,700 years ago) There were at least 10 spears, 7 throwing sticks, and 35 household tools. They are all carved from woods known to be both flexible and hard, including spruce, pine and cedar.

The tools showed clear evidence of a splitting technique that was previously known only to be used by modern humans, as well as signs of carving, scraping and abrasion.

“The way the wooden instruments were so expertly made was a revelation for us.” He shouts University of Reading Paleolithic archaeologist Annemieke Milks.

Working with wood to a new level of sophistication is a slow, multi-step process that requires a lot of patience and forethought. Moreover, the Age of Tools coincides with the rise of Neanderthals to dominance in Europe, overtaking other early human species.

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Woodworking techniques used for round woodwork (top) and split woodwork (bottom). (Leader et al., With people2024)

The site in Schöningen also contains evidence of up to 25 butchered animals, most of them horses.

“It turns out that this is a preHomo sapiens “I made tools and weapons for hunting big game,” Terberger said Tell Franz Leeds V The New York Times. “Not only did they communicate together to bring down prey, but they were sophisticated enough to organize butchering and roasting.”

Researchers say these powerful hunting abilities are likely much older than the wooden artefacts found at Schöningen. These skills would have ensured that early humans had access to high-quality food sources for generations, providing the capacity for this increase in brain development and associated cognitive skills.

“In the same vein, [hunting] “It would have ensured a sustainable population even in less suitable parts of Europe during the Pleistocene and contributed to the expansion of human range worldwide,” Leder and his team said. Write in their paper.

Incredibly, the researchers also found evidence of recycling. Tools that had been broken or blunted were reworked for new purposes.

“The study provides unique insights into Pleistocene carpentry techniques,” the researchers say. We conclude.

“The wooden hunting weapons of Schöningen embody the interplay between technological complexity, human behavior and human evolution.”

Their study was published in With people.