The discovery of India shows that the Stone Age technology spread early in the world.
Somewhere around 300, 000 years ago, our human ancestors in parts of Africa began using a technique called Levallois to make pieces of stone and make small, sharp tools.
This tool named Paris suburb, was first found that consists of a generation times larger, less sophisticated tools for deep upgrade, marked the old Stone Age in the Stone Age in Africa and Europe and western Asia.
But Indian scientists have recently discovered thousands of stone tools made using Levallois technology, dating back to 385,000 years ago. The latest findings, published Wednesday in the journal nature, suggest that the researchers had already spread the levalois technology around the world as early as possible.
The Indian team found the tools in the Attirampakkam area near Chennai, one of India’s most famous archaeological sites.
The oldest artifacts – the handaxe and the stone cutter – can be traced back to 1.5 million years ago, and are related to the early Stone Age of the archaean culture.
The most recent tool, which was between 385,000 and 172,000 years ago, was small and apparently made with Levallois technology. It first creates a turtle shape starting stone and then hits the precast stone to create a sharp edge.
“It’s a very specific technology, very clearly identifiable and very similar to what you see in Africa,” says Pappu.
The more than 7,000 artifacts discovered at the site run counter to what’s been the prevailing theory about when the technology first reached the region.
“It was believed that this particular cultural or behavioral package perhaps came to India about 125,000 years ago, by modern humans dispersing out of Africa,” says Pappu. Another hypothesis suggested that the technology came even later to India, around 70,000 years ago.
“It’s a whodunit, and we don’t have the answer,” Potts says.
The authors think it could have been modern humans, Homo sapiens, who moved out of Africa much earlier than currently believed, and brought this technology with them.
Or, they say, a more ancestral hominin might have developed the technology independently in India.
And, given that the Acheulian and Levallois technologies partially overlap at this site, “I see that as continuity in the archaeological record of India, rather than as an external influence,” says Petraglia.
“It looks like the Neanderthals of Europe and the near East, as well as the ancestors of Homo sapiens in Africa developed this … Levallois technique independently of one another,” says Potts. It might have developed independently in South Asia as well. “We’re familiar in history of independent inventions of things like the calendar in different parts of the world.”
Potts says what excites him most about the new finding is that it places India prominently on the map of human innovation and toolmaking.
“It raises a question that all archaeologists should be asking right now,” he says. “What else was going on in India and how prominent was it in the story of human origins?”