Ornaments, tools show that Modern man emerged 44,000 years ago

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 17:22

London: Modern man emerged 44,000 years ago, earlier than archaeologists thought, a new study said.
A team of scientists from Britain, South Africa, France, Italy, Norway and the United States carried out a research in Border Cave area in South Africa and gathered evidence which shows tools and ornaments that humans used 44,000 years ago.

Tools like wooden digging stick with perforated stones, poison applicator and ornaments made from ostrich eggshell and marine shell dated back to approximately 40,000 years ago, the `Daily Mail` reported.

Most archaeologists believed that the oldest traces of hunter-gatherer San people, earliest known Modern human inhabitants of South Africa, dated back to at most 20,000 years.

"The dating and analysis of archaeological material discovered at Border Cave in South Africa has allowed us to demonstrate that many elements of material culture that characterise the lifestyle of San hunter-gatherers were part of the culture and technology of the inhabitants of this site 44,000 years ago," senior researcher Dr Lucinda Backwell was quoted as saying by the paper.

The Border cave in South Africa is located in the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal and has yielded exceptionally well-preserved organic material.

Backwell said the proto-civilisation "adorned themselves with ostrich egg and marine shell beads, and notched bones for notational purposes" which shows that humans began experimenting with art.

"They fashioned fine bone points for use as awls and poisoned arrowheads. One point is decorated with a spiral groove filled with red ochre, which closely parallels similar marks that San make to identify their arrowheads when hunting."

Poison dating from 25,000 years ago - as well as beeswax collected 40,000 years ago was discovered. This represents the earliest evidence for the use of poison.

"This complex compound used for hafting arrowheads or tools, directly dated to 40,000 years ago, is the oldest known evidence of the use of beeswax," Backwell was quoted as saying.

The findings published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says stone tools discovered in the same archaeological layers as the organic remains shows a gradual evolution in stone tool technology.


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First Published: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 17:22

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