Much as we love field archaeology, trowels and brushes are no longer the only essential pieces in the modern archaeologist’s toolkit. Look at this 3D model being used to forensically investigate a 430,000 year old murder, or this new device that will give archaeologists something even better than x-ray vision.
All this technology is dead exciting. It’s helping to extract new information, restore lost artworks, and even prevent damage to existing ones. But still, sometimes all it takes is a keen eye and a bit of luck to make a discovery that’s so important it shifts our perspective on who we are and how we got here… and that’s exactly what’s just happened with a discovery that takes us right back to technology’s humble origins; the world’s newest oldest stone tools!
Further analysis of the markings on the tools and attempts to replicate their production suggests two possible ways: The toolmaker might have set the stone on a flat rock and chipped away at it with a hammer rock. Or, the toolmaker could have held the stone with two hands and hit it against the flat base rock.
Which species made these tools is still up for debate, but it sure is a blow to the widespread assumption that the things we so often say are hallmarks of being human — making tools, creating art, using language — arose with the genus Homo. Time to rethink the story: when it comes to tools, clearly we were not the first.
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