Innovation drove technology throughout Old World

Instead of waiting for "technology transfer" from one place to another through population expansion, our ancestors depended more on innovation for advancing technology, a study suggests.

IANS| Updated: Sep 26, 2014, 15:20 PM IST

New York: Instead of waiting for "technology transfer" from one place to another through population expansion, our ancestors depended more on innovation for advancing technology, a study suggests.

"Local innovation" rather than "population expansion" explains the appearance of new technologies in "Eurasia" more than 300,000 years ago, the study that highlights the antiquity of the human capacity for innovation, noted.

Human technological innovation occurred intermittently throughout the "Old World", rather than spreading from a single point of origin, as previously thought, showed the analysis of artefacts from a 325,000-year-old site in Armenia.

For the study, the researchers examined thousands of stone artefacts retrieved from Nor Geghi 1, a unique site preserved between two lava flows dated back 200,000-400,000 years.

The stone tools provide early evidence for the simultaneous use of two distinct technologies: biface technology, commonly associated with hand axe production during the Lower Paleolithic, and Levallois technology, a stone tool production method typically attributed to the Middle Stone Age in Africa and the Middle Paleolithic in Eurasia.

Archaeologists have argued that Levallois technology was invented in Africa and spread to Eurasia with expanding human populations, replacing local biface technologies in the process.

This theory draws a link between populations and technologies and thus equates technological change with demographic change.

The co-existence of the two technologies at Nor Geghi 1 provides the first clear evidence that local populations developed Levallois technology out of existing biface technology.

"The combination of these different technologies in one place suggests to us that, about 325,000 years ago, people at the site were innovative," said the study's lead author Daniel Adler, an associate professor at University of Connecticut in the US.

The study appeared in the journal Science.