- Humans 80,000 Years Older Than Previously
- Dig unearths Stone Age sculptures
- Lost city of 'cloud people' found in Peru
Humans 80,000 Years Older Than Previously Thought?
Modern humans may have evolved more than 80,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study of sophisticated stone tools found in Ethiopia.
The tools were uncovered in the 1970s at the archaeological site of Gademotta, in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. But it was not until this year that new dating techniques revealed the tools to be far older than the oldest known Homo sapien bones, which are around 195,000 years old.
Using argon-argon dating—a technique that compares different isotopes of the element argon—researchers determined that the volcanic ash layers entombing the tools at Gademotta date back at least 276,000 years.
Many of the tools found are small blades, made using a technique that is thought to require complex cognitive abilities and nimble fingers, according to study co-author and Berkeley Geochronology Center director Paul Renne.
Some archaeologists believe that these tools and similar ones found elsewhere are associated with the emergence of the modern human species, Homo sapiens.
"It seems that we were technologically more advanced at an earlier time that we had previously thought," said study co-author Leah Morgan, from the University of California, Berkeley.
Gademotta was an attractive place for people to settle, due to its close proximity to fresh water in Lake Ziway and access to a source of hard, black volcanic glass, known as obsidian, which is one of the best raw materials to use for making tools.
In many parts of the world, archaeologists see a leap around 300,000 years ago in Stone Age technology from the large and crude hand-axes and picks of the so-called Acheulean period to the more delicate and diverse points and blades of the Middle Stone Age.
At other sites in Ethiopia, such as Herto in the Afar region northeast of Gademotta, the transition does not occur until much later, around 160,000 years ago, according to argon dating. This variety in dates supports the idea of a gradual transition in technology.
The lack of bones at Gademotta makes it difficult to determine who made these specialist tools. Some archaeologists believe it had to be Homo sapiens, while other experts think that other human species may have had the required mental capability and manual dexterity.source
My comment: I don't see a reason why Homo Sapiens should be blamed for these tools. If there aren't bones then we simply cannot make such claims- they will be a mere speculation. But it's amazing how humans get older and older and the intelligence we once thought our ancestors has changes with time.
Dental Plaque Gives Clue To Diet Of Ancient PeopleWASHINGTON (AP) ― Thanks to poor dental hygiene, researchers are getting a more detailed understanding of what people ate thousands of years ago in what is now Peru.
Dental plaque scraped from the teeth of people who lived as much as 9,200 years ago revealed traces of cultivated crops, including squash and beans, according to a report in Monday's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
These ancient people also ate peanuts and a local fruit known as pacay, according to the report by Dolores Piperno.
They studied 39 teeth from six to eight individuals. Found in northern Peru's Nanchoc Valley, the teeth were uncovered in the remains of round house structures in a settlement dated to 9,200 to 5,500 years ago.
The teeth study indicates that the diet of these people contained cultivated crops and was stable over time. Some of the grains had been cooked, the researchers noted.
The researchers said they hope the future analysis of starch grains from teeth can lead to other findings about ancient people, perhaps showing a difference in diet between Neanderthals and early modern humans. source
My comment: What's important here is the presence of cultivated crops in that period. It's quite early in time and they already had those crops and the diet was even stable. That makes us ask who and when cultivated the crops when our knowledge of cultures is so recent.
Dig unearths Stone Age sculptures
By Jason Palmer
The site at Zaraysk, 150km south-east of Moscow, has yielded figurines and carvings on mammoth tusks.
The finds also included a cone-shaped object whose function, the authors report in the journal Antiquity, "remains a puzzle".
Such artistic artefacts have been found in the nearby regions of Kostenki and Avdeevo, but this is the first such discovery at Zaraysk.
The Upper Palaeolithic is the latter part of the Old Stone Age, during which humans made the transition from functional tool-making to art and adornment.
The new artefacts, discovered by Hizri Amirkhanov and Sergey Lev of the Russian Academy of Sciences, include a mammoth rib inscribed with what appear to be three mammoths, a small bone engraved with a cross-hatch pattern, and two human figurines presumed to be female.
The figurines are a type of "Venus" statuette, examples of which have been found in locations ranging from the mountains of Spain as far east as Siberia. However, their cultural significance remains a point of debate among anthropologists.
At Zaraysk, the two figurines were found carefully buried in storage pits. Underneath each was a round deposit of fine sand toward the south; toward the north, there was a deposit of red ochre - an iron-based pigment.
Each of the figurines had been covered with the shoulder-blade of a mammoth.
One is presumed to be finished and stands at a height of nearly 17cm (6.7in); the other is clearly unfinished and about half as big.
However, both resemble examples of such statuettes found at the Avdeevo site to the south-west, suggesting cultural links between the two.
"These finds are really incredibly rare, and they offer a unique picture into human Upper Palaeolithic life."
Also among the finds was an object carved from mammoth ivory, shaped like a cone with its top removed. The cone is densely ornamented and has a hole running through its centre.
The authors note that the object is unique among Palaeolithic artefacts. "The function of this decorated object remains a puzzle," they say. source
My comment: Hm, the cone may be an early form of phalos, though it may as easily be something to break nuts with or a shape of UFO. Many possibilities. I'm mostly interested in the orientation of the graves, since this is important for some traditions. Too bad the figure are not dated yet.
Lost city of 'cloud people' found in Peru
The settlement covers some 12 acres and is perched on a mountainside in the remote Jamalca district of Utcubamba province in the northern jungles of Peru's Amazon.
The buildings found on the Pachallama peak are in remarkably good condition, estimated to be over 1,000 years old and comprised of the traditional round stone houses built by the Chachapoya, the 'Cloud Forest People'.
The area is completely overgrown with the jungle now covering much of the settlement but explorers found the walls of the buildings and rock paintings on a cliff face.
The remote nature of the site appears to have protected the site from looters as archaeologists found ceramics and undisturbed burial sites.
Archaeologist Benedicto Pérez Goicochea said: "The citadel is perched on the edge of an abyss.
"We suspect that the ancient inhabitants used this as a lookout point from where they could spot potential enemies."
Initial studies have found similarities between the new discovery and the Cloud Peoples' super fortress of Kulep, also in Utcubamba province, which is older and more extensive that the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, but has not been fully explored or restored.
Little is known about the Chachapoya, except that they had been beaten into submission by the mighty Incas in 1475.
When in 1535 the Spanish Conquistadores arrived in Peru, they found willing allies in the Cloud People for their fight against the Incas.
Spanish texts from the era describe the Cloud People as ferocious fighters who mummified their dead.
They were eventually wiped out by small pox and other diseases brought by the Europeans.
The women of the Chachapoya were much prized by the Incas as they were tall and fair skinned. The Chronicler Pedro Cieza de León offers wrote of the Chachapoyas.
"They are the whitest and most handsome of all the people that I have seen in Indies, and their wives were so beautiful that because of their gentleness, many of them deserved to be the Incas' wives and to also be taken to the Sun Temple." source
My comment: This sounds very freaky! First, the closeness to the abyss may not be for the panorama, but if those people could fly or had some flying machines. Or for floating machines to dock. Notice their name-why Cloud people and not something else, like "those who like to live on the high". And the interesting fact that they were white and tall and that they hated the incas. The mumifying is one more stunning similarity to Egyptian practices. Wow! I so wish to know more about them. Especially about their religion, but I can bet a lot that they believed in some version of Orphism or Hinduism.