How ancient Africans were the first nerds
Birth of technology traced back 70,000 years to the continent's southern tip
- Technology found in southern Africa predates similar artefacts found in Europe by 30,000 years
- Archaeologist claims it decisively shows that Africa is the birthplace of modern human cognition
- Findings debunk widely held belief that modern human behaviour originated in Europe 40,000 years ago
By Damien Gayle
Modern human technology began more than 70,000 years ago in South Africa before spreading to communities elsewhere, a new study claims.
It was there that our ancestors made the first bone tools, the first abstract art, the first jewellery and probably the first stone tipped spears and arrows, research shows.
The claims, based on archaeological findings over the past decade, contradict the widely held belief that modern human behaviour originated in Europe about 40,000 years ago.
Renowned archaeologist Professor Christopher Henshilwood, of Wits University in South Africa, author of the new paper, says the most recent research decisively shows that Africa is the birthplace of modern human cognition.
'All of these innovations, plus many others we are just discovering, clearly show that Homo sapiens in southern Africa at that time were cognitively modern and behaving in many ways like ourselves,' he said.
'It is a good reason to be proud of our earliest, common ancestors who lived and evolved in South Africa and who later spread out into the rest of the world after about 60,000 years.'
The paper, entitled Late Pleistocene Techno-traditions in Southern Africa: A Review of the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort, c. 75 ka, published online today in the Journal of World Prehistory.
These were periods of many innovations including, for example, the first abstract art (engraved ochre and engraved ostrich eggshell); the first jewellery (shell beads); the first bone tools; and the earliest use of the pressure flaking technique, that was used in combination with heating to make stone spear points and the first probable use of stone tipped arrows.
HOW TECHNOLOGY FROM AFRICA GAVE HUMANS THE 'KILLING EDGE'
This paper is just the latest to come from Professor Henshilwood and others' research on African archaeology that has debunked the idea that modern human behaviour originated in Europe after about 40,000 years ago.
There is increasing evidence for an African origin for behavioural and technological modernity more than 70,000 years ago and that the earliest origin of all Homo sapiens lies in Africa with a special focus in southern Africa.
Last month MailOnline reported a new study by U.S. researchers which suggested the development of 'high tech' long range weapons 71,000 years ago in the region gave humans the killing edge to help make us the dominant species.
The findings at Pinnacle Point, near Mossel Bay, included Stone Age technology that only took hold in other areas of Africa and in Eurasia about 50,000 years later.
Those researchers noted that the depth of archaeological research in Africa was minuscule compared to that which has taken place so far in Europe, and because of that it was likely that far more would be learned soon.
In the new paper, Professor Henshilwood writes: 'In just the past decade our knowledge of Homo sapiens behaviour in the Middle Stone Age, and in particular of the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort, has expanded considerably.
'With the benefit of hindsight we may ironically conclude that the origins of "Neanthropic Man", the epitome of behavioural modernity in Europe, lay after all in Africa.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2243946/How-ancient-Africans-nerds-Birth-technology-traced-70-000-years-continents-southern-tip.html#ixzz2EKxdRwwg
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