Innovative Stone Age tools have been developed by people inhabiting the Armenia Highland and — contrary to widely held views — not just invented in Africa, a study published Thursday found.
Research published in the journal Science shows evidence that refined stone weapons were developed in Armenia about 325,000 years ago, challenging the theory held by many archaeologists that such technology came from Africa then spread to Eurasia as the human population expanded.
Experts studied thousands of stone artifacts from the Nor Geghi site in Armenia.
“The discovery of thousands of stone artifacts preserved at this unique site provides a major new insight into how Stone Age tools developed during a period of profound human behavioral and biological change,”
researcher Simon Blockley, from the Royal Holloway geography department of the University of London, said in a statement.
Research honed in on a type of technology known as Levallois, where stone flakes were used to make items like pointed hunting weapons.
The technology was an improvement over a more primitive type of stone shaping called biface.
“Our findings challenge the theory held by many archaeologists that Levallois technology was invented in Africa and spread to Eurasia as the human population expanded. Due to our ability to accurately date the site in Armenia, we now have the first clear evidence that this significant development in human innovation occurred independently within different populations.”
Together with fellow researcher Alison MacLeod and an international team from across the United States and Europe, Blockley analyzed volcanic material from the archaeological site in the village of Nor Geghi, in the Kotayk Province of Armenia.
“The people who lived there 325,000 years ago were much more innovative than previously thought, using a combination of two different technologies to make tools that were extremely important for the mobile hunter-gatherers of the time.”
Archaeologists argue that Levallois technology was a more innovative way of crafting tools, as the flakes produced during the shaping of the stone were not treated as waste but were made at predetermined shapes and sizes and used to make products that were small and easy to carry. With the more primitive biface technology, a mass of stone was shaped through the removal of flakes from two surfaces in order to produce bigger tools such as a hand axes.
Published in Science.
Royal Holloway, University of London