These Tools Upend Our View of Stone-Age Humans in Asia
The discovery in India supports the idea that multiple waves of ancient humans left Africa well before 60,000 years ago.
Long ago in what’s now southern India, early humans showed a knack for disruption that would’ve made Silicon Valley tech wizards envious. Over time, the ancient innovators rejected bulky hand-axes and cleavers, instead opting for sleek flakes of stone meant for cutting and tipping spears.
Similar disruptions occurred in Africa among the forebears of modern humans around the same time. But the timing of the Indian transition, spotted in the soil layers of a site called Attirampakkam, is eye-popping. At 250,000 years old—and possibly up to 385,000 years old—this tool transition occurred far earlier than it did at other sites in India.
The discovery, described in Nature on Wednesday, pushes back the start of what’s called the Middle Paleolithic culture