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Palaeontology

Ancient stone-tipped spears predate humans

November 15, 2013 | Comment icon 32 comments



Homo heidelbergensis at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Ryan Somma
The world's oldest known throwing spear tips appear to predate the human race by 85,000 years.
Discovered at the Ethiopian Stone Age site of Gademotta, the stone-tipped spears were investigated at Berkeley’s Human Evolution Research Center where they were found to date back over 280,000 years.

Made from obsidian, the ancient spears exhibit all the signs of skilled craftsmanship despite predating modern humans by such a huge margin.
This discrepancy in date implies that either humans are a much older species than previously thought, a discovery that in itself would constitute a major shake-up of what we know of the human family tree, or another pre-human species learned how to build these weapons before humans did.

In the case of the latter, the prime candidate would be Homo heidelbergensis, otherwise known as Heidelberg Man, a species that lived across Africa, Europe and Asia up to 600,000 years ago and is believed to be a direct ancestor of modern man.

Source: Fox News | Comments (32)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #23 Posted by lightly 9 years ago
I came across this web surfing ... http://archive.archa...efs/spears.html World's Oldest Spears Volume 50 Number 3, May/June 1997 by Arlette P. Kouwenhoven Radiocarbon dating has confirmed that three wooden spears found in a coal mine in Schöningen, near Hannover, Germany, are the oldest complete hunting weapons ever found. Some 380,000 to 400,000 years old, the six- to 7.5-foot javelins were found in soil whose acids had been neutralized by a high concentration of chalk near the coal pit. They suggest that early man was able to hunt, and was not just a scavenger. The development of such weapo... [More]
Comment icon #24 Posted by lightly 9 years ago
https://asunews.asu....115_stonespears A collaborative study involving researchers at Arizona State University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Cape Town found that human ancestors were making stone-tipped weapons 500,000 years ago at the South African archaeological site of Kathu Pan 1 – 200,000 years earlier than previously thought. This study, “Evidence for Early Hafted Hunting Technology,” is published in the Nov. 16 issue of the journal Science. Hafted spear tips are common in Stone Age archaeological sites after 300,000 years ago. This study shows that hafted spear tips ... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by taniwha 9 years ago
I came across this web surfing ... http://archive.archa...efs/spears.html Hi Lightly can you link us photo samples/evidence to examine, cheers.
Comment icon #26 Posted by Harte 9 years ago
I came across this web surfing ... http://archive.archa...efs/spears.html World's Oldest Spears Volume 50 Number 3, May/June 1997 by Arlette P. Kouwenhoven Radiocarbon dating has confirmed that three wooden spears found in a coal mine in Schöningen, near Hannover, Germany, are the oldest complete hunting weapons ever found. Some 380,000 to 400,000 years old, the six- to 7.5-foot javelins were found in soil whose acids had been neutralized by a high concentration of chalk near the coal pit. They suggest that early man was able to hunt, and was not just a scavenger. The development of such weapo... [More]
Comment icon #27 Posted by Mentalcase 9 years ago
Boy if I just went off of the title.. lol
Comment icon #28 Posted by lightly 9 years ago
From this link: [/size][/color] You can't date anything that old with radiocarbon dating. Archaeology mag is usually better than this. Maybe I should apply for a job with them proofreading the airheads' articles they publish. Harte Thanks Harte. I actually wondered how valid the info was .. and even posted that someone (like you or Swede or Cormac or q) would be along directly ..if it was questionable.. then deleted it thinking that a publication coming from the Archaeological Institute of America might be a safe bet. I remember now, radiocarbon dating is only accurate to about 50k ? Fortunate... [More]
Comment icon #29 Posted by lightly 9 years ago
Hi Lightly can you link us photo samples/evidence to examine, cheers. I can try, Cheers. http://irisharchaeology.ie/2012/10/the-worlds-oldest-spears-the-schoningen-javelins/ https://reinep.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/400000-year-old-spears-found-in-an-german-coal-mine/
Comment icon #30 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
Thanks Harte. I actually wondered how valid the info was .. and even posted that someone (like you or Swede or Cormac or q) would be along directly ..if it was questionable.. then deleted it thinking that a publication coming from the Archaeological Institute of America might be a safe bet. I remember now, radiocarbon dating is only accurate to about 50k ? Fortunately, posting something incorrect or asking extra stupid questions often has beneficial results in here .. hehe. I think that is about right. The amount of radioactive carbon steadily decreases and about that point becomes too little ... [More]
Comment icon #31 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
It enters my head that if pre-humans had spears with points attached, then they also had string or twine or something like that too -- perhaps a more important thing than the actual spears in the end.
Comment icon #32 Posted by Piney 9 years ago
It enters my head that if pre-humans had spears with points attached, then they also had string or twine or something like that too -- perhaps a more important thing than the actual spears in the end. Not necessarily in the case of hafting a point. The Archaic Piedmont/Piney Island points found in the Eastern U.S. were attached using bone sockets and pitch.


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