Paleolithic Bone Tools Discovered in Chinese Cave Are Some of the Oldest in the World

Paleolithic Bone Tools Discovered in Chinese Cave Are Some of the Oldest in the World

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A research team studying 17 bone tools recovered from the Paleolithic site of Ma'anshan Cave, Guizhou Province, southern China have named the artifacts as the oldest formal bone tools in China to date. They also have dated some of the oldest barbed points known outside Africa.

The researchers completed a techno-functional analysis of the artifacts that were found in strata 6,5, and 3 of the Ma'anshan cave and presented their results in a paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science in January.

The paper reports that the oldest tools are from stratum 6, which they dated to 35,000 years ago and consist of three sharp awls. The six probable spear points, awls, and a cutting tool found in stratum 5 were dated to 34,000 years ago. Two types of barbed points were found in stratum 3 and are believed to be between 23,000 and 18,000 years old.

Traces of manufacture on some of the Ma’anshan bone artifacts. ( S. Zhang et al. )

While prehistoric bone tools are not a new thing, the prevalence of very old examples outside of Africa still is something of a novelty. As the researchers wrote in their paper:

“Early instances of bone technology in other areas of the Old World such as China, are still however rare, and those that are known are often insufficiently documented. […] Formal bone tools, defined as artefacts that were cut, carved, polished or otherwise modified to produce fully shaped points, awls, harpoons and wedges, appears relatively late in human history, and is only recorded at a handful of African sites prior to 45 ka.”

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  • Ten enduring mysteries of the Longyou caves reports that the research team was led by Dr. Gao Xing, of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Dr. Francesco d'Errico, Université de Bordeaux. IVPPs team were also responsible for the discovery of the tools, during excavations they completed in 1986 and 1990 at the cave.

Ma'anshan Cave is located 2 km (1.24 miles) southeast of Tongzi County at an altitude of 960 m (3149.61 ft.) above sea level, and 40 m (131.23 ft.) above the nearby Tianmen River. The excavators identified eight important strata over the years.

Photograph and schematic representation of the Ma'anshan stratigraphy. )

Fossils, bird bones, and thousands of long bone shaft fragments were unearthed at the site along with the bone tools. The researchers write in the report that the bone tools were shaped by scraping, grinding, and, in strata 5 and 3, they were finished by polishing.

The authors of the study recognize that often the production of formal bone tools, along with the production of personal ornaments, engravings, art, etc., are seen as the outcome of a sudden change in human cognition. They believe that the change in the hunting toolkit between strata 5 and 3 may indicate a shift in prey preference from medium to small size mammals and fish, however they state that this needs to be verified by supplementary analyses.

Faunal remains from Ma'anshan damaged by root etching (a), carnivore gnawing (b), porcupine gnawing (c), and butchery (d). Scales = 1 cm ( S. )

Dr. Shuangquan Zhang, a key author of the study, said that the discovery of the bone tools in Ma’anshan Cave “provides new materials for studies about the origin of bone tool technology in Africa and Eurasia,” and Dr. Xing added that the research “demonstrates that bone tool technology shows rates of cultural turnover comparable to those observed in the Upper Paleolithic of Europe.”

Each of the tools was shaped using stones. )

The researchers concluded their paper by writing:

“Normal bone tools are ubiquitous at Upper Palaeolithic sites in Europe, and their production has long been regarded as an innovation introduced by anatomically modern humans from Africa colonizing this region 40 ka. Research conducted in the last 15years, including results presented in this paper, shows that the emergence of this key cultural innovation is better understood as a complex, disconti nuous process that took place at different times and in diff erent regio ns, which needs to be docume nted at a regional scale, and may be the outcome of both diffusion and independent innovation processes.”

The full article from the Journal of Archaeological Science has also been made available by the researchers on

Featured Image: Bone artifacts recovered from the Ma’anshan site. Source: S.

By Alicia McDermott

    Scientists unearth oldest figurine ever discovered in China

    The artifact, a songbird on a pedestal, appears to be about 13,500 years old.

    An ancient bird statuette recovered from a refuse heap is the oldest known figurine discovered yet in China, shedding new light on how our ancestors created 3D art, a new study finds.

    Scientists unearthed the miniature carving at the site of Lingjing in China, where previous excavations uncovered 11 layers each of distinct ages, ranging from 120,000 years ago to the Bronze Age. They discovered the artifact in a refuse heap left over from well diggers who removed most of the fifth layer in 1958. The location possesses a spring, which "may have attracted prehistoric populations at different times," said study co-author Francesco d’Errico, an archaeologist at the University of Bordeaux in France.

    The figurine depicts a songbird on a rectangular pedestal. The artist deliberately added weight to the sculpture by oversizing the tail to prevent the bird from falling forward, d'Errico said. "The artist knew that making a sculpture is a matter of finding the right balance."

    The sculpture is made of bone that likely came from the limb of an adult medium-size mammal such as a deer, boar, gazelle or wolf and was burned before carving. At only 1.9 centimeters (about .75 inches) long and 1.25 centimeters high, the statuette "is so small that it is possible similar carvings were not recognized in previous excavations in which the sediment was not systematically sieved," d'Errico said. Other artifacts uncovered from the refuse heap include ceramic potsherds, stone blades and a pendant made from ostrich eggshell.

    Radiocarbon dating of unearthed burned animal remains from the fifth layer, including a bone fragment with gouging marks also seen on the statuette, suggested the artifact is about 13,500 years old, meaning it originated during the Paleolithic, or Old Stone Age, when the first human art appeared. Until now, the oldest known Chinese figurine was a jade songbird about 5,000 years old found near Beijing. This new discovery pushes back the origins of animal sculpture in East Asia by roughly 8,500 years.

    Markings on the figurine suggest it was carried around for some time in a leather bag, the researchers said. "Was it a toy? A gaming piece? A religious effigy? Is it art for art's sake? Something deeper? It’s fascinating to speculate," said Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Australia, who did not take part in this research.

    Until recently, the earliest human art was found in Europe. However, increasingly scientists have discovered similarly old artwork elsewhere in the world, such as roughly 44,000-year-old cave paintings found on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

    Until now, the carving of small figurines was the only artistic practice left that might have potentially originated in Europe, with examples including statuettes carved from mammoth ivory found in Germany dating up to roughly 40,000 years old. These new findings suggest that prehistoric humans living in China might have independently developed the concept of three-dimensionally representing the world around them -- for instance, the bird figurine has a number of features not seen in other Paleolithic sculptures, such as how it was carved from burnt bone, and how it depicts a bird on a pedestal, the researchers noted.

    "Before this discovery, we thought that 3D representations were a recent phenomenon in East Asia," d'Errico said. "This diminutive carving supports the hypothesis that the production of 3D representations does not have a single origin."

    "No doubt, with researchers focusing their attention on East Asia and Southeast Asia at this time, we will see more figurines -- of animals or people or other items from life or myths -- being recovered over the next few years," said Michelle Langley, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Australia, who did not participate in this study.

    The scientists detailed their findings online June 10 in the journal PLOS ONE.

    Inside Science is an editorially independent nonprofit print, electronic and video journalism news service owned and operated by the American Institute of Physics.

    Ancient Cave in China Filled With 45,000-Year-Old Stone Tools and Animal Bones, New Excavation Reveals

    Archaeologists have recovered thousands of artifacts from a cave in Xinjiang (an autonomous region of northern China) including stone tools, bronze and iron artifacts and animal fossils. Some date as far back as the Paleolithic Age, making them roughly 45,000 years old, according to the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

    Around 2,000 artifacts were unearthed at the excavation site Tongtiandong Cave (not to be confused with Tongtianlong limosus, the species of bird-like dinosaur that made the news in 2016 when paleontologists discovered the remains of one that appeared to have died from a literal case of being stuck in the mud). This Paleolithic cave is the first ever recorded in Xinjiang province, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

    About one-third of the artifacts were stone tools, with another third comprising fossilized animal skeletons. The species the researchers could identify from the fossilized remains included rabbits, sheep, donkeys, rhinoceroses, bears and birds. They showed clear signs of cutting, burning and otherwise having been manipulated for human use, according to the academy.

    The excavation was carried out through a collaboration between Peking University's School of Archaeology and Museology and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regional Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. Archaeologists conducted a preliminary excavation in early 2016 before returning for several months in 2017 to make more thorough and detailed recordings. The findings were recently published in the journal Chinese Archaeology and translated into English for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

    Previous research conducted in the cave had revealed stone tools and other archaeological artifacts that suggested human activity dating back to around 10,000 years ago, according to China News Service's English language site.

    The archaeologists behind the most recent project discovered that the cave provided "continuous stratigraphic cultural-layer sections," according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Meaning, it provided a layer-by-layer view of the Early Iron Age, the Bronze Age, the Chalcolithic Age (also known as the Copper Age) and finally the Paleolithic Age. The findings could help map how the region's inhabitants evolved over the course of tens of thousands of years.

    Among the artifacts dated to the comparatively younger Iron and Bronze ages were, as one might guess, iron and bronze wares, but also pottery and millstones (round stones used for grinding up grain, the mortar and pestle of their day). The researchers were even able to carbon date leftover wheat grain, which they found to be between 5,000 and 3,500 years old, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. They speculated that this region was one of the earliest to cultivate wheat, and that it might have been the point of origin from which the grain spread, via trade, out into other populations.

    Europe's earliest bone tools found in Britain

    The implements come from the renowned Boxgrove site in West Sussex, which was excavated in the 1980s and 90s.

    The bone tools came from a horse that humans butchered at the site for its meat.

    Flakes of stone in piles around the animal suggest at least eight individuals were making large flint knives for the job.

    Researchers also found evidence that other people were present nearby - perhaps younger or older members of a community - shedding light on the social structure of our ancient relatives.

    There's nothing quite like Boxgrove elsewhere in Britain: during excavations, archaeologists uncovered hundreds of stone tools, along with animal bones, that dated to 500,000 years ago.

    They were made by the species Homo heidelbergensis, a possible ancestor for modern humans and Neanderthals.

    Researchers found a shin bone belonging to one of them - it's the oldest human bone known from Britain.

    Project lead, Dr Matthew Pope, from UCL's Institute of Archaeology, said: "This was an exceptionally rare opportunity to examine a site pretty much as it had been left behind by an extinct population, after they had gathered to totally process the carcass of a dead horse on the edge of a coastal marshland.

    "Incredibly, we've been able to get as close as we can to witnessing the minute-by-minute movement and behaviours of a single apparently tight-knit group of early humans: a community of people, young and old, working together in a co-operative and highly social way."

    The researchers were able to reconstruct the precise type of stone tool that had been made from the chippings left at the site. However, the humans must have taken the tools with them - as they had not been recovered.

    At the inter-tidal marshland, which was on what would have been Britain's southern coastline, there was a nearby cliff that was starting to degrade, producing good rocks for knapping - the process of creating stone tools. Silt from the sea had also built up here, forming an area of grassland.

    "Grassland means herbivores and herbivores mean food," explained Dr Pope.

    Dr Pope added that it was still unclear how the horse ended up in this landscape.

    "Horses are highly sociable animals and it's reasonable to assume it was part of a herd, either attracted to the foreshore for fresh water, or for seaweed or salt licks. For whatever reason, this horse - isolated from the herd - ends up dying there," Dr Pope told BBC News.

    "Possibly it was hunted - though we have no proof of that - and it's sat right next to an intertidal creek. The tide was quite low so it's possible for the humans to get around it. But shortly after, a high tide comes in and starts to cover the site in fine, powdery silt and clay. It's so low energy that everything is left as it was when the hominins moved away from the site."

    The horse provided more than just food. Analysis of the bones by Simon Parfitt, from the University College London (UCL) Institute of Archaeology, and Dr Silvia Bello, from London's Natural History Museum, found that several bones had been used as tools called re-touchers.

    Simon Parfitt said: "These are some of the earliest non-stone tools found in the archaeological record of human evolution. They would have been essential for manufacturing the finely made flint knives found in the wider Boxgrove landscape."

    Dr Bello added: "The finding provides evidence that early human cultures understood the properties of different organic materials and how tools could be made to improve the manufacture of other tools.

    She explained that "it provides further evidence that early human populations at Boxgrove were cognitively, social and culturally sophisticated".

    The researchers believe other members of the group - which could have numbered 30 to 40 people - were nearby. They might have joined the hunting party to butcher the horse carcass.

    This might explain how it was so completely torn apart: the Boxgrove humans even smashed up the bones to get at the marrow and liquid grease.

    Dr Pope said that, far from being an activity for a handful of individuals in a hunting party, butchering could have been a highly social event for these ancient humans.

    The project has primarily been funded by Historic England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council with support from the UCL Institute of Archaeology, the Natural History Museum and the British Museum.

    The detailed findings have been published in a book called The Horse Butchery Site.

    Window into early technology

    Archaeology Professor Jane Balme from University of Western Australia has spent many hours in Riwi cave and worked with experts across the nation to identify the tools.

    Professor Balme said the tools showed the importance of organic materials in the early technologies of First Nations people.

    "They provide a window into a greater diversity of activities undertaken by people than are revealed by stone artefacts alone," Professor Balme said.

    Dr Langley said the tools would have taken time and skill to make.

    "Using the natural anatomy of the bone, they've been pointed at one or both ends depending on what they're used for. They've been flaked or ground into shape."

    Dr Langley said her work allows her to make connections to the past.

    "It's always exciting, especially when you get something unexpected," she said.

    "It's always nice thinking about who might have used that. Is it a woman's tools, men's tools or was it something children were playing with."

    The research, which also involved Australian National University, has been published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.


    Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic Edit

    The oldest known evidence of arrows comes from South African sites such as Sibudu Cave, where likely arrowheads have been found, dating from approximately 72,000–60,000 years ago, [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] on some of which poisons may have been used. [2]

    The earliest probable arrowheads found outside of Africa have been discovered in 2020 in Fa Hien Cave, Sri Lanka. It has been dated to 48,000 years ago. "Bow-and-arrow hunting at the Sri Lankan site likely focused on monkeys and smaller animals, such as squirrels. Remains of these creatures were found in the same sediment as the bone points." [8] [9]

    At the site of Nataruk in Turkana County, Kenya, obsidian bladelets found embedded in a skull and within the thoracic cavity of another skeleton, suggest the use of stone-tipped arrows as weapons about 10,000 years ago. [10]

    In the Sahara, Mesolithic rock art of the Tassili plateau depicts people carrying bows from 5,000 BP or earlier. [11] [12]

    Based on indirect evidence, the bow seems also to have appeared or reappeared later in Eurasia around the Upper Paleolithic.

    In the Levant, artifacts which may be arrow-shaft straighteners are known from the Natufian culture, (ca. 12,800–10,300 BP) onwards. The Khiamian and PPN A shouldered Khiam-points may well be arrowheads.

    The earliest definite remains of bow and arrow from Europe are possible fragments from Germany found at Mannheim-Vogelstang dated 17,500–18,000 years ago, and at Stellmoor dated 11,000 years ago. Azilian points found in Grotte du Bichon, Switzerland, alongside the remains of both a bear and a hunter, with flint fragments found in the bear's third vertebra, suggest the use of arrows at 13,500 years ago. [13]

    Other early indications of archery in Europe come from Stellmoor in the Ahrensburg valley north of Hamburg, Germany. They were associated with artifacts of the late Paleolithic (11,000–9,000 BP). The arrows were made of pine and consisted of a mainshaft and a 15–20 centimetre (6–8 inches) long foreshaft with a flint point. They had shallow grooves on the base, indicating that they were shot from a bow. [14]

    The oldest definite bows known so far come from the Holmegård swamp in Denmark. In the 1940s, two bows were found there, dated to about 8,000 BP. [15] The Holmegaard bows are made of elm and have flat arms and a D-shaped midsection. The center section is biconvex. The complete bow is 1.50 m (5 ft) long. Bows of Holmegaard-type were in use until the Bronze Age the convexity of the midsection has decreased with time.

    Mesolithic pointed shafts have been found in England, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. They were often rather long, up to 120 cm (4 ft) and made of European hazel (Corylus avellana), wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana) and other small woody shoots. Some still have flint arrow-heads preserved others have blunt wooden ends for hunting birds and small game. The ends show traces of fletching, which was fastened on with birch-tar.

    The oldest depictions of combat, found in Iberian cave art of the Mesolithic, show battles between archers. [16] A group of three archers encircled by a group of four is found in Cueva del Roure, Morella la Vella, Castellón, Valencia. A depiction of a larger battle (which may, however, date to the early Neolithic), in which eleven archers are attacked by seventeen running archers, is found in Les Dogue, Ares del Maestrat, Castellón, Valencia. [17] At Val del Charco del Agua Amarga, Alcañiz, Aragon, seven archers with plumes on their heads are fleeing a group of eight archers running in pursuit. [18]

    Archery seems to have arrived in the Americas via Alaska, as early as 6000 BC, [19] with the Arctic small tool tradition, about 2,500 BC, spreading south into the temperate zones as early as 2,000 BC, and was widely known among the indigenous peoples of North America from about 500 AD. [20]

    Neolithic Edit

    The oldest Neolithic bow known from Europe was found in anaerobic layers dating between 7,400 and 7,200 BP, the earliest layer of settlement at the lake settlement at La Draga, Banyoles, Girona, Spain. The intact specimen is short at 1.08m, has a D-shaped cross-section, and is made of yew wood. [21] Stone wrist-guards, interpreted as display versions of bracers, form a defining part of the Beaker culture and arrowheads are also commonly found in Beaker graves. European Neolithic fortifications, arrow-heads, injuries, and representations indicate that, in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Europe, archery was a major form of interpersonal violence. [22] For example, the Neolithic settlement at Carn Brea was occupied between around 3700 and 3400 BC excavations found that every timber structure on the site had been burnt, and there was a concentration of arrow heads around a probable entrance to the enclosure these arrows may have been used by a large group of archers in an organized assault. [23] [24] [25]

    Bronze Age Edit

    Chariot-borne archers became a defining feature of Middle Bronze Age warfare, from Europe to Eastern Asia and India. However, in the Middle Bronze Age, with the development of massed infantry tactics, and with the use of chariots for shock tactics or as prestigious command vehicles, archery seems to have lessened in importance in European warfare. [22] In approximately the same period, with the Seima-Turbino Phenomenon and the spread of the Andronovo culture, mounted archery became a defining feature of Eurasian nomad cultures and a foundation of their military success, until the massed use of guns. In China, crossbows were developed, and Han Dynasty writers attributed Chinese success in battles against nomad invaders to the massed use of crossbows, first definitely attested at the Battle of Ma-Ling in 341 BC. [26]

    Ancient civilizations, notably the Persians, Parthians, Egyptians, Nubians, Indians, Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese fielded large numbers of archers in their armies. Arrows were destructive against massed formations, and the use of archers often proved decisive. The Sanskrit term for archery, dhanurveda, came to refer to martial arts in general. Mounted archers were used as the main military force for many of the equestrian nomads, including the Cimmerians and the Mongols.

    North Africa Edit

    The ancient Egyptian people took to archery as early as 5,000 years ago. Archery was widespread by the time of the earliest pharaohs and was practiced both for hunting and use in warfare. Legendary figures from the tombs of Thebes are depicted giving "lessons in archery". [27] Some Egyptian deities are also connected to archery. [28] The "Nine bows" were a conventional representation of Egypt's external enemies. One of the oldest representations of the Nine bows is on the seated statue of Pharaoh Djoser (3rd Dynasty, 27th century BC). [29] Many of the archers in service to Egypt were of Nubian extraction commonly referred to as Medjay, who go from a mercenary force during their initial service to Egypt in the Middle Kingdom to an elite paramilitary unit by the New Kingdom. So effective were the Nubians as archers that Nubia as whole would be referred to Ta-Seti or land of the bow by the Ancient Egyptians.

    Mesopotamia Edit

    The Assyrians and Babylonians extensively used the bow and arrow for hunting and warfare. The empires in ancient Mesopotamia formed the first standing armies used exclusively for warfare. This included soldiers trained and employed as archers. The archers served as an integral division of the military and was used on foot and on chariots.

    The Chariot warriors of the Kassites relied heavily on the bow. The Nuzi texts detail the bows and the number of arrows assigned to the chariot crew. Archery was essential to the role of the light horse-drawn chariot as a vehicle of warfare. [30]

    The Old Testament has multiple references to archery as a skill identified with the ancient Hebrews. Xenophon describes long bows used to great effect in Corduene.

    Three-bladed (trilobate) arrowheads have been found in the United Arab Emirates, dated to 100BC-150AD. [31]

    Eurasian Steppes Edit

    The composite bow was first produced in the Eurasian Steppes during the Bronze Age, and from there it diffused throughout the Old World. The nomads from the Eurasian steppes are believed to play an integral part in introducing the composite bow to other civilizations, including Mesopotamia, Iran, India, East Asia, and Europe. There are arrowheads from the earliest chariot burials at Krivoye Lake, part of the Sintashta culture about 2100–1700 BC. These people are also believed to have invented spoke-wheeled chariots, and chariot archery became an integral component of the militaries of early Indo-Europeans.

    Domestication of horses and mounted horseback archery are also believed to have originated in the Eurasian steppes. This revolutionized warfare as well as the practice of archery.

    India Edit

    The use of bow and arrow was recorded extensively throughout the history of the Indian subcontinent.

    The paleolithic paintings of Bhimbetka rock shelters depict archery. [32] Vedic hymns in the Rigveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda lay emphasis on the use of the bow and arrow. [33] The second Veda, the Yajurveda contains Dhanurveda (dhanus "bow" and veda "knowledge"), which was an ancient treatise on the science of archery and its use in warfare. The existence of Dhanurveda or "Science of Archery" in antiquity is evident from references made in several works of ancient literature. The Viṣṇu Purāṇa refers it as one of the eighteen branches of knowledge taught, while the Mahābhārata mentions it as having sutras like other vedas. Śukranīti describes it as that ‘upaveda of yajurveda’ which has five arts or practical aspects. The Dhanurveda enumerates the rules of archery, and describes the uses of weapons and the training the army. Besides providing the account of the training of the archers, Vasiṣṭha's Dhanurveda describes the different types of bows and arrows, as well as the process of making them. Detailed accounts of training methodologies in early India considered to be an essential martial skill in early India. [34]

    The composite bow in India was being used by 2nd millennium BCE. The bow was used extensively on foot as well on chariots. It was incorporated into the standing armies of the Mahajanapadas, and used in mounted warfare on horses, camels, and elephants with a howdah. The importance of archery continued through antiquity during the Maurya Empire. The Arthashastra, a military treaties written by Chanakya during the Maurya Era, goes in depth on the importance and implementation of archery. It also mentions an archery school at Taxila which enrolled 103 princes from different kingdoms across the empire.

    During the era of the Gupta Empire mounted archery was largely supplanted by foot archers. This was in contrast to the nomadic armies on horseback from Central Asia such as the Iranian, Scythians, Parthians, Kushans, and Hunas. Later Indian kingdoms entities would maintain and field large numbers of mounted archers. The use of bows and arrows continued to be used as the mainstay of most Indian armies until the advent of firearm, introduced by Islamic gunpowder empires. [35] [36]

    Greco-Roman antiquity Edit

    The people of Crete practiced archery and Cretan mercenary archers were in great demand. [37] Crete was known for its unbroken tradition of archery. [38]

    The Greek god Apollo is the god of archery, also of plague and the sun, metaphorically perceived as shooting invisible arrows. Artemis goddess of the hunt, Heracles and Odysseus, and many other mythological figures are often depicted with a bow.

    During the invasion of India, Alexander the Great personally took command of the shield-bearing guards, foot-companions, archers, Agrianians and horse-javelin-men and led them against the Kamboja clans—the Aspasioi of Kunar valleys, the Guraeans of the Guraeus (Panjkora) valley, and the Assakenois of the Swat and Buner valleys. [39]

    The early Romans had very few archers, if any. As their empire grew, they recruited auxiliary archers from other nations. Julius Caesar's armies in Gaul included Cretan archers, and Vercingetorix his enemy ordered "all the archers, of whom there was a very great number in Gaul, to be collected". [40] By the 4th century, archers with powerful composite bows were a regular part of Roman armies throughout the empire. After the fall of the western empire, the Romans came under severe pressure from the highly skilled mounted archers belonging to the Hun invaders, and later Eastern Roman armies relied heavily on mounted archery. [41]

    East Asia Edit

    For millennia, archery has played a pivotal role in Chinese history. [42] In particular, archery featured prominently in ancient Chinese culture and philosophy: archery was one of the Six Noble Arts of the Zhou dynasty (1146–256 BC) archery skill was a virtue for Chinese emperors Confucius himself was an archery teacher and Lie Zi (a Daoist philosopher) was an avid archer. [43] [44] Because the cultures associated with Chinese society spanned a wide geography and time range, the techniques and equipment associated with Chinese archery are diverse. [45]

    In East Asia Joseon Korea adopted a military-service examination system from China, [46] and South Korea remains a particularly strong performer at Olympic archery competitions even to this day. [47] [48]

    The Sasanian general Bahram Chobin has been credited with writing a manual of archery in Ibn al-Nadim's catalogue Kitab al-Fihrist. [49]

    A Viking longbow made out of yew wood was found in the trade settlement of Hedeby which dated back to the 10th century.

    A complete arrow of 75 cm [50] (along with other fragments and arrow heads) dated back to 1283 AD, was discovered inside a cave [51] situated in the Qadisha Valley, [52] Lebanon.

    A treatise on Saracen archery was written in 1368. This was a didactic poem on archery dedicated to a Mameluke sultan by ṬAIBUGHĀ, al-Ashrafī. [53]

    A 14th century treatise on Arab archery was written by Hussain bin Abd al-Rahman. [54]

    A treatise on Arab archery by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr (1292AD-1350AD) comes from the 14th century. [55] Another treatise, A book on the excellence of the bow & arrow of c. 1500 details the practices and techniques of archery among the Arabs of that time. [56] An online copy of the text is available. [57]

    Skilled archers were prized in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. Archery was an important skill for the Vikings, both for hunting and for war. [ citation needed ] The Assize of Arms of 1252 tells us that English yeomen were required by law, in an early version of a militia, to practice archery and maintain their skills. We are told that 6,000 English archers launched 42,000 arrows per minute at the Battle of Crecy in 1346. [58] The Battle of Agincourt in 1415 is notable for Henry V's introduction of the English longbow into military lore. Henry VIII was so concerned about the state of his archers that he enjoined tennis and other frivolous pursuits in his Unlawful Games Act 1541.

    In Mali, the footmen were dominated by archers. Three archers to one spearman was the general ratio of Malian formations in the 16th century. The archers generally opened battle, softening up the enemy for cavalry charges or the advance of the spearmen. [59]

    The advent of firearms eventually rendered bows obsolete in warfare. Despite the high social status, ongoing utility, and widespread pleasure of archery, almost every culture that gained access to even early firearms used them widely, to the relative neglect of archery.

    "Have them bring as many guns as possible, for no other equipment is needed. Give strict orders that all men, even the samurai, carry guns."

    In Ireland, Geoffrey Keating (c. 1569 – c. 1644) mentions archery as having been practiced "down to a recent period within our own memory." [61]

    Early firearms were inferior in rate of fire (a Tudor English author expects eight shots from the English longbow in the time needed for a "ready shooter" to give five from the musket), [62] and François Bernier reports that well-trained mounted archers at the Battle of Samugarh in 1658 were "shooting six times before a musketeer can fire twice". [63] Firearms were also very susceptible to wet weather. However, they had a longer effective range (up to 200 yards for the longbow, up to 600 yards for the musket), [62] [64] greater penetration, [65] were extremely powerful compared to any previous man-portable missile weapon (16th century arquebuses and muskets had 1,300 to 3,000 joules per shot depending on size and powder load, as compared to 80-100 joules for a typical longbow arrow or 150-200 joules for a crossbow bolt), [66] and were tactically superior in the common situation of soldiers shooting at each other from behind obstructions. They also penetrated steel armour without any need to develop special musculature. Armies equipped with guns could thus provide superior firepower, and highly trained archers became obsolete on the battlefield. The Battle of Cerignola in 1503 was won by Spain mainly by the use of matchlock firearms, marking the first time a major battle in Europe was won through the use of firearms.

    The last regular unit armed with bows was the Archers’ Company of the Honourable Artillery Company, ironically a part of the oldest regular unit in England to be armed with gunpowder weapons. The last recorded use of bows in battle in England seems to have been a skirmish at Bridgnorth in October 1642, during the English Civil War, an impromptu militia, armed with bows, was effective against un-armoured musketmen. [67] The last use of the bow in battle in Britain is said to have occurred at the Battle of Tippermuir in Scotland on 1 September 1644, when James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose's Royalist highlanders defeated an army of Scottish Covenanters. [68] Among Montrose's army were bowmen. [68]

    (A more recent use of archery in war was in 1940, on the retreat to Dunkirk, when Jack Churchill, who had brought his bows on active service, "was delighted to see his arrow strike the centre German in the left of the chest and penetrate his body"). [69]

    Archery continued in some areas that were subject to limitations on the ownership of arms, such as the Scottish Highlands during the repression that followed the decline of the Jacobite cause, and the Cherokees after the Trail of Tears. The Tokugawa shogunate severely limited the import and manufacture of guns, and encouraged traditional martial skills among the samurai towards the end of the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877, some rebels fell back on the use of bows and arrows. Archery remained an important part of the military examinations until 1894 in Korea and 1904 in China.

    Within the steppe of Eurasia, archery continued to play an important part in warfare, although now restricted to mounted archery. The Ottoman Empire still fielded auxiliary cavalry which was noted for its use of bows from horseback. This practice was continued by the Ottoman subject nations, despite the Empire itself being a proponent of early firearms. The practice declined after the Crimean Khanate was absorbed by Russia however mounted archers remained in the Ottoman order of battle until the post-1826 reforms to the Ottoman Army. The art of traditional archery remained in minority use for sport and for hunting in Turkey up until the 1920s, but the knowledge of constructing composite bows fell out of use with the death of the last bowyer in the 1930s. The rest of the Middle East also lost the continuity of its archery tradition at this time.

    An exception to this trend was the Comanche culture of North America, where mounted archery remained competitive with muzzle-loading guns. "After. about 1800, most Comanches began to discard muskets and pistols and to rely on their older weapons." [70] Repeating firearms, however, were superior in turn, and the Comanches adopted them when they could. Bows remained effective hunting weapons for skilled horse archers, used to some extent by all Native Americans on the Great Plains to hunt buffalo as long as there were buffalo to hunt. The last Comanche hunt was in 1878, and it failed for lack of buffalo, not lack of appropriate weapons. [71]

    Ongoing use of bows and arrows was maintained in isolated cultures with little or no contact with the outside world. The use of traditional archery in some African conflicts has been reported in the 21st century, and the Sentinelese still use bows as part of a lifestyle scarcely touched by outside contact. A remote group in Brazil, recently photographed from the air, aimed bows at the aeroplane. [72] Bows and arrows saw considerable use in the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis.

    The British initiated a major revival of archery as an upper-class pursuit from about 1780–1840. [73] Early recreational archery societies included the Finsbury Archers and the Kilwinning Papingo, established in 1688. The latter held competitions in which the archers had to dislodge a wooden parrot from the top of an abbey tower. The Company of Scottish Archers was formed in 1676 and is one of the oldest sporting bodies in the world. It remained a small and scattered pastime, however, until the late 18th century when it experienced a fashionable revival among the aristocracy. Sir Ashton Lever, an antiquarian and collector, formed the Toxophilite Society in London in 1781, with the patronage of George, the Prince of Wales.

    Archery societies were set up across the country, each with its own strict entry criteria and outlandish costumes. Recreational archery soon became extravagant social and ceremonial events for the nobility, complete with flags, music and 21 gun salutes for the competitors. The clubs were "the drawing rooms of the great country houses placed outside" and thus came to play an important role in the social networks of local elites. As well as its emphasis on display and status, the sport was notable for its popularity with females. Young women could not only compete in the contests but retain and show off their sexuality while doing so. Thus, archery came to act as a forum for introductions, flirtation and romance. [73] It was often consciously styled in the manner of a Medieval tournament with titles and laurel wreaths being presented as a reward to the victor. General meetings were held from 1789, in which local lodges convened together to standardise the rules and ceremonies. Archery was also co-opted as a distinctively British tradition, dating back to the lore of Robin Hood and it served as a patriotic form of entertainment at a time of political tension in Europe. The societies were also elitist, and the new middle class bourgeoisie were excluded from the clubs due to their lack of social status.

    After the Napoleonic Wars, the sport became increasingly popular among all classes, and it was framed as a nostalgic reimagining of the preindustrial rural Britain. Particularly influential was Sir Walter Scott's 1819 novel, Ivanhoe that depicted the heroic character Locksley winning an archery tournament. [74]

    The 1840s saw the first attempts at turning the recreation into a modern sport. The first Grand National Archery Society meeting was held in York in 1844 and over the next decade the extravagant and festive practices of the past were gradually whittled away and the rules were standardised as the 'York Round' – a series of shoots at 60, 80, and 100 yards. Horace A. Ford helped to improve archery standards and pioneered new archery techniques. He won the Grand National 11 times in a row and published a highly influential guide to the sport in 1856.

    Towards the end of the 19th century, the sport experienced declining participation as alternative sports such as croquet and tennis became more popular among the middle class. By 1889, just 50 archery clubs were left in Britain, but it was still included as a sport at the 1900 Paris Olympics.

    In the United States, primitive archery was revived in the early 20th century. The last of the Yahi Indian tribe, a native known as Ishi, came out of hiding in California in 1911. [75] [76] His doctor, Saxton Pope, learned many of Ishi's traditional archery skills, and popularized them. [77] [78] The Pope and Young Club, founded in 1961 and named in honor of Pope and his friend, Arthur Young, became one of North America's leading bowhunting and conservation organizations. Founded as a nonprofit scientific organization, the club was patterned after the prestigious Boone and Crockett Club and advocated responsible bowhunting by promoting quality, fair chase hunting, and sound conservation practices.

    In Korea, the transformation of archery to a healthy pastime was led by Emperor Gojong, and is the basis of a popular modern sport. The Japanese continue to make and use their unique traditional equipment. Among the Cherokees, popular use of their traditional longbows never died out. [79]

    In China, at the beginning of the 21st century, there has been revival in interest among craftsmen looking to construct bows and arrows, as well as in practicing technique in the traditional Chinese style. [80] [81]

    In modern times, mounted archery continues to be practiced as a popular competitive sport in modern Hungary and in some Asian countries but it is not recognized as an international competition. [82] Archery is the national sport of the Kingdom of Bhutan. [83]

    From the 1920s, professional engineers took an interest in archery, previously the exclusive field of traditional craft experts. [84] They led the commercial development of new forms of bow including the modern recurve and compound bow. These modern forms are now dominant in modern Western archery traditional bows are in a minority. In the 1980s, the skills of traditional archery were revived by American enthusiasts, and combined with the new scientific understanding. Much of this expertise is available in the Traditional Bowyer's Bibles (see Further reading). Modern game archery owes much of its success to Fred Bear, an American bow hunter and bow manufacturer. [85]

    The Oldest Lunar Calendars

    The Oldest Lunar Calendars and Earliest Constellations have been identified in cave art found in France and Germany. The astronomer-priests of these late Upper Paleolithic Cultures understood mathematical sets, and the interplay between the moon annual cycle, ecliptic, solstice and seasonal changes on earth.

    The First (Lunar) Calendar
    The archaeological record’s earliest data that speaks to human awareness of the stars and ‘heavens’ dates to the Aurignacian Culture of Europe, c.32,000 B.C. Between 1964 and the early 1990s, Alexander Marshack published breakthrough research that documented the mathematical and astronomical knowledge in the Late Upper Paleolithic Cultures of Europe. Marshack deciphered sets of marks carved into animal bones, and occasionally on the walls of caves, as records of the lunar cycle. These marks are sets of crescents or lines. Artisans carefully controlled line thickness so that a correlation with lunar phases would be as easy as possible to perceive. Sets of marks were often laid out in a serpentine pattern that suggests a snake deity or streams and rivers.

    Aurignacian Lunar Calendar / diagram, drawing after Marshack, A. 1970 Notation dans les Gravures du Paléolithique Supérieur, Bordeaux, Delmas / Don’s Maps

    Many of these lunar calendars were made on small pieces of stone, bone or antler so that they could be easily carried. These small, portable, lightweight lunar calendars were easily carried on extended journeys such as long hunting trips and seasonal migrations.

    Hunting the largest animals was arduous, and might require hunters to follow herds of horses, bison, mammoth or ibex for many weeks. (Other big animals such as the auroch, cave bear and cave lion were well known but rarely hunted for food because they had special status in the mythic realm. The Auroch is very important to the search for earliest constellations.)

    The phases of the moon depicted in these sets of marks are inexact. Precision was impossible unless all nights were perfectly clear which is an unrealistic expectation. The arithmetic counting skill implied by these small lunar calendars is obvious. The recognition that there are phases of the moon and seasons of the year that can be counted – that should be counted because they are important – is profound.

    “All animal activities are time factored, simply because time passes, the future is forever arriving. The reality of time factoring is objective physics and does not depend upon human awareness or consciousness. Until Marshack’s work, many archeologists believed the sets of marks he chose to study were nothing but the aimless doodles of bored toolmakers. What Marshack uncovered is the intuitive discovery of mathematical sets and the application of those sets to the construction of a calendar.”

    Bone is the preferred medium because it allows for easy transport and a long calendar lifetime. Mankind’s earliest astronomy brought the clan into the multi-dimensional universe of the gods. Objects used in the most potent rituals had the highest contextual, cultural value and were treated with great reverence.

    Continue reading about images of lunar notations with animal and mythic imagery here.

    Archaeologists Discovered a Paleolithic Bird Figurine in a Rubbish Heap. Turns Out It’s the Oldest 3D Chinese Art in the World

    Archaeologists believe the tiny bird suggests that the Chinese began creating art independently of other civilizations.

    A miniature bird figurine discovered at Lingjing (Henan Province, China), dated to 13,500 years ago, is now the oldest-known example of Chinese art. Photo courtesy of Francesco d’Errico and Luc Doyon.

    Archaeologists have discovered what appears to be the oldest known example of three-dimensional East Asian art in a rubbish pile excavated in Lingjing, Henan, China. The ancient Paleolithic bird figurine, carved from a blackened bone, dates to 13,500 years ago, according to radiocarbon testing.

    The critical find potentially changes our understanding of ancient Chinese civilization and suggests that art arose there independently of other parts of the world. (Although sculpture dates back some 35,000 years in Europe, ancient art from the region differs significantly from the newly discovered bird form, suggesting it developed separately.) The research team, led by Zhanyang Li of Shandong University, revealed their discovery in a study published this week in the journal PLOS ONE.

    “It pushes back the origin of avian representations in Chinese art by 8,500 years and identifies a potential link between Chinese Neolithic art and its Palaeolithic origins,” the study’s co-author Luc Doyon, of the University of Montreal, told Courthouse News. “We were definitely struck by this technological feat and by the beauty of the object.”

    Anthropologists note that the embrace of symbolic thought, beyond the basic survival needs of a people, leads to the creation of art, which is an important factor in the development of a culture.

    The original miniature bird figurine discovered at Lingjing (Henan Province, China), dated to 13,500 years ago, and a 3-D μ-CT recreation creating using X-ray micro-computed tomography. Photo courtesy of Francesco d’Errico and Luc Doyon.

    “For large areas of the world,” Francesco D’Errico of the Université de Bordeaux, a study co-author, told ZME Science, “it remains unclear when the production of three-dimensional representations became an integral part of the cultural repertoire of human societies, and whether this innovation was achieved independently or by diffusion from a center of origin.”

    The diminutive sculpture was actually first unearthed in 1958, by construction crews digging a well. The pile of dirt they left behind attracted the attention of Li and his team after they began excavations at Lingjing in 2005. They soon realized they had stumbled upon a wealth of ancient Paleolithic artifacts, from pottery shards to stone tools.

    A 3-D print of the 13,500-year-old miniature bird figurine discovered at Lingjing (Henan Province, China). Photo courtesy of Francesco d’Errico and Luc Doyon.

    The sculpture takes the form of a passerine, the general name for songbird species. It was carved from bone likely heated at low temperatures—a tricky process that will warp and shatter the bone if not done correctly.

    A micro-CT scan revealed the artist used multiple tools, likely a coarse grindstone, a chisel, and stone scrapers, in his work. The precision with which this artwork was executed suggests that the carving technique was already well established at the time of its creation.

    The newly discovered sculpture is the only known Paleolithic animal figurine mounted on a pedestal, and is unusual both stylistically and in the technique used to produce it. These qualities, said D’Errico, “identify an original artistic tradition, unknown until now.”


    Oldowan Edit

    The Oldowan is the archaeological term used to refer to the stone tool industry that was used by hominids during the earliest Palaeolithic period. For a long time it was thought that the Oldowan was the earliest stone tool industry in prehistory, from 2.6 million years ago up until 1.7 million years ago. It was followed by the more sophisticated Acheulean industry. Oldowan tools were therefore the earliest tools in human history, and mark the beginning of the archaeological record. The term "Oldowan" is taken from the site of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, where the first Oldowan tools were discovered by the archaeologist Louis Leakey in the 1930s. Now it is realised that stone tools were used much earlier (3.3 million years ago) and that was definitely before the genus Homo had evolved.

    It is not known for sure which species actually created and used Oldowan tools. It reached its peak with early species of Homo such as H. habilis and H. ergaster. Early Homo erectus appears to inherit Oldowan technology and refines it into the Acheulean industry beginning 1.7 million years ago. [12] Oldowan tools are sometimes called pebble tools, so named because the blanks chosen for their production already resemble, in pebble form, the final product. [13] Oldowan tools are sometimes subdivided into types, such as chopper, scrapers and pounders, as these seem to be their main uses. [14]

    Acheulean Edit

    Acheulean is the industry of stone tool manufacture by early humans of the Lower Palaeolithic era in Africa and much of West Asia and Europe. Acheulean tools are typically found with Homo erectus remains. They are first developed out of the more primitive Oldowan technology some 1.8 million years ago, by Homo habilis.

    It was the dominant technology for most of human history. More than a million years ago Acheulean tool users left Africa to colonize Eurasia. [5] Their oval and pear-shaped hand axes have been found over a wide area. Some examples were finely made. Although it developed in Africa, the industry is named after the type site of Saint-Acheul, now a suburb of Amiens in northern France where some of the first examples were found in the 19th century.

    John Frere was the first to suggest in writing a very ancient date for Acheulean hand-axes. In 1797 he sent two examples to the Royal Academy in London from Hoxne in Suffolk. He had found them in prehistoric lake deposits along with the bones of extinct animals and concluded that they were made by people "who had not the use of metals" and that they belonged to a "very ancient period indeed, even beyond the present world". His ideas were ignored by his contemporaries however, who held a pre-Darwinian view of human evolution.

    Dating the Acheulean Edit

    Radiometric dating, often potassium-argon dating, of deposits containing Acheulean material is able to broadly place Acheulean techniques from around 1.65 million years ago [6] to about 100,000 years ago. [7] The earliest accepted examples of the type, at 1.65 m years old, come from the West Turkana region of Kenya [8] . Some think their origin might be as early as 1.8 million years ago. [9]

    In individual regions, this dating can be considerably refined in Europe for example, Acheulean methods did not reach the continent until around 400 thousand years ago and in smaller study areas, the date ranges can be much shorter. Numerical dates can be misleading however, and it is common to associate examples of this early human tool industry with one or more glacial or interglacial periods or with a particular early species of human. The earliest user of Acheulean tools was Homo ergaster who first appeared about 1.8 million years ago. Some researchers prefer to call these users early Homo erectus. [10] Later forms of early humans also used Acheulean techniques and are described below.

    There is considerable time overlap in early prehistoric stone-working industries. In some regions Acheulean tool-using groups were contemporary with other, less sophisticated industries such as the Clactonian. [11] Then, later, Acheulean tools occur at the same time as the more sophisticated Mousterian. The Acheulean was not a neatly defined period, but a tool-making technique which flourished especially well in early prehistory. Acheulean was a basic method for making stone tools which was shared across much of the Old World.

    Clactonian Edit

    The Clactonian is an industry of European flint tool manufacture that dates to the early part of the interglacial period 400,000 years ago. [15] Clactonian tools were made by Homo erectus rather than modern humans. Early, crude flint tools from other regions using similar methods are called either Clactonian or core & flake technology.

    The Clactonian is named after finds made at Clacton-on-Sea in the English county of Essex in 1911. The artefacts found there included flint chopping tools, flint flakes and the tip of a worked wooden shaft along with the remains of a giant elephant and hippopotamus. Further examples of the tools have been found at sites in Swanscombe, Kent, and Barnham in Suffolk similar industries have been identified across Northern Europe.

    The Clactonian industry involved striking thick, irregular flakes from a core of flint, which was then employed as a chopper. The flakes would have been used as crude knives or scrapers. Unlike the Oldowan tools from which Clactonian ones derived, some were notched implying that they were attached to a handle or shaft.

    The Clactonian industry may have co-existed with the Acheulean industry (which used handaxes). However, in 2004 there was an excavation of a butchered Pleistocene elephant near Dartford, Kent. Archaeologists recovered numerous Clactonian flint tools, but no handaxes. Since handaxes would be more useful than choppers to dismember an elephant carcass, this is evidence of the Clactonian being a separate industry. Flint of sufficient quality was available in the area, so probably the people who carved up the elephant did not have the knowledge to make handaxes.

    Mousterian Edit

    The Mousterian is an industry of stone tools associated with Neanderthal Man, Homo neanderthalensis. It dates from about 300,000 years to about 30,000 years ago. There are up to thirty types of tools in the Mousterian as contrasted with about six in the Acheulean.

    The Mousterian was named after the type site of Le Moustier, a rock shelter in the Dordogne region of France. [16] Similar flintwork has been found all over unglaciated Europe and also the Near East and North Africa. Handaxes, long blades and points typify the industry. Overall, the items are more perfectly finished than any previous work. The method used to get the blades and flakes is called the Levallois technique. It is a prepared-core technique: the core is worked on so that a long, fine blade can be struck off. For this quality of work, a 'soft' hammer made of something like deer antler is necessary, rather than a stone hammer. The extra brain size of the Neanderthals is probably relevant to these advances.

    The cultures which follow the Mousterian are all cultures of modern humans, Homo sapiens. It is characteristic of our species to produce many more tools, all specialised for particular tasks. There are at least 100 types of tools in the Upper Palaeolithic compared to a maximum of 30 tools in the Mousterian.

    The Palaeolithic is sometimes divided into three (somewhat overlapping) periods which mark technological and cultural advances in different human communities:

        (c2.6 or 2.5 million years ago–100,000 years ago) [4][7] (c300,000–30,000 years ago) [17] (c45,000 or 40,000–10,000 years ago). [17]

      After the Palaeolithic follows the Mesolithic and Neolithic eras, which marks the end of Stone Age. The Bronze Age and the Iron Age come right after the Stone Age.

      Overview of the main features of these periods Edit

      Age Period Tools Economy Dwelling Sites Society Religion
      Stone age Palaeolithic Tools: sharpened flint or stone tools: hand axes, scrapers, wooden spears Hunting and gathering Mobile lifestyle – caves, huts, tooth or skin hovels, mostly by rivers and lakes Tribes of plant gatherers and hunters (25-100 people) Evidence for belief in the afterlife in the Upper Palaeolithic: appearance of burial rituals and ancestor worship. Priests and sanctuary servants appear in prehistory.
      Mesolithic (known as the Epipalaeolithic in areas with no trend towards agricultural lifestyles) Fine small tools: bow and arrow, harpoons, fish-basket, boats Tribes and Bands
      Neolithic Tools: chisel, hoe, plough, reaping-hook, grain pourer, barley, loom, pottery and weapons Agriculture, Hunting and gathering, fishing and domestication Farmsteads during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age Formation of cities during the Bronze Age Tribes and chiefdoms in some Neolithic societies at the end of the Neolithic. States and civilisations during the Bronze Age.
      Bronze Age Writing copper and bronze tools, potter's wheel Agriculture cattle-breeding crafts, trade
      Iron Age Iron tools

      Venus figurines Edit

      Possibly among the earliest traces of art are Venus figurines. These are figurines (very small statues) of women, mostly pregnant with visible breasts. The figurines were found in areas of Western Europe to Siberia. Most are between 20,000 and 30,000 years old. Two figurines have been found that are much older: the Venus of Tan-Tan, dated to 300,000 to 500,000 years ago was found in Morocco. The Venus of Berekhat Ram was found on the Golan Heights. It has been dated to 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. It may be the one of the earliest things that show the human form.

      Different kinds of stone, bones and ivory were used to make the figurines. Some are also made of clay which was then burned in a fire. This is one of the earliest known traces of the use of ceramics.

      Today it is not known what the figurines meant to the people who made them. There are two basic theories:

      • They may be representations of human fertility, or they may have been made to help it.
      • They may represent (fertility) goddesses.

      Scientists have excluded that these figurines were linked to the fertility of fields, because agriculture had not been discovered at the time the figurines were made.

      The two figurines that are older may have mostly formed by natural processes. The Venus of Tan-Tan was covered with a substance that could have been some kind of paint. [18] The substance contained traces of iron and manganese. [18] The figurine of Berekhat Ram shows traces that someone worked on it with a tool. A study done in 1997 states that these traces could not have been left by nature alone. [19]

      Cave paintings Edit

      Cave paintings are paintings that were made on the walls or roofs of caves. Many cave paintings belong to the Palaeolothic Age, and date from about 15,000 to 30,000 years ago. Among the most famous are those in the caves of Altamira in Spain and Lascaux in France. [5] p545 There are about 350 caves in Europe where cave paintings have been found. Usually, animals have been painted, like aurochs, bisons or horses. Why these paintings were done is not known. They are not simply decorations of places where people lived. The caves they were found in usually do not show signs that someone lived in them.

      One of the oldest caves is that of Chauvet in France. Paintings in the cave fall into two groups. One has been dated to around 30,000 to 33,000 years ago, the other to 26,000 or 27,000 years ago. [5] p546 The oldest known cave paintings, based on radiocarbon dating of "black from drawings, from torch marks and from the floors". [20] As of 1999, the dates of 31 samples from the cave have been reported. The oldest paintings have been dated from 32,900±490 years ago. [21] [22]

      Some archaeologists have questioned the dating. Züchner believe the two groups date from 23,000–24,000, and 10,000–18,000 years ago. [23] Pettitt and Bahn believe the dating is inconsistent. They say the people at that periods of time painted things differently. They also do not know where the charcoal used to paint some things is from, and how big the painted area is. [24]

      People from the Palaeolithic era drew well. They knew about perspective, and they knew of different ways to draw things. They also were able to observe the behaviour of animals they painted. Some of the paintings show how the painted animals behaved. The paintings may have been important for rituals.

      In general Edit

      Paleolithic hunting and gathering people ate leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts and insects, meat, fish, and shellfish. [26] [27] As there is little direct evidence, it is almost impossible to determine the relative proportions of plant and animal foods. [28] There is a modern diet called paleolithic diet, but it has few things in common with the paleolitic diet of the time. Even the claim that most humans of a given period shared the same diet is problematic. The Paleolithic was an extended period of time. During that time, there were many technological advances, many of which had impact on human dietary structure. For example, humans probably did not possess the control of fire until the Middle Paleolithic, [29] or tools necessary to engage in extensive fishing. [ source? ] On the other hand, both these technologies are generally agreed to have been widely available to humans by the end of the Paleolithic (consequently, allowing humans in some regions of the planet to rely heavily on fishing and hunting). In addition, the Paleolithic involved a substantial geographical expansion of human populations. During the Lower Paleolithic, ancestors of modern humans are thought to have been constrained to Africa east of the Great Rift Valley. During the Middle and Upper Paleolithic, humans greatly expanded their area of settlement, reaching ecosystems as diverse as New Guinea and Alaska. The also needed to adapt their diets to the local resources that were available.

      Anthropologists have different opinions about the proportions of plant and animal foods consumed. Just as with still existing hunters and gatherers, there were many varied "diets" - in different groups -of fruit and vegetables. [30] The relative proportions of plant and animal foods in the diets of Paleolithic people often varied between regions in colder regions, more meat was necessary. These regions were not populated by anatomically modern humans until 30,000-50,000 BP. [31] It is generally agreed that many modern hunting and fishing tools, such as fish hooks, nets, bows, and poisons, were not introduced until the Upper Palaeolithic and possibly even Neolithic. [32] The only hunting tools widely available to humans during any significant part of the Paleolithic period were hand-held spears and harpoons. There's evidence of Paleolithic people killing and eating seals and elands as far as 100,000 years BP. On the other hand, buffalo bones found in African caves from the same period are typically of very young or very old individuals, and there's no evidence that pigs, elephants or rhinos were hunted by humans at the time. [33]

      Developments Edit

      Another view is that until the Upper Paleolithic, humans were frugivores (fruit eaters) who supplemented their meals with carrion, eggs, and small prey such as baby birds and mussels. Only on rare occasions did they manage to kill and consume big game such as antelopes. [34] This view is supported by studies of higher apes, particularly chimpanzees. Chimpanzees are the closest to humans genetically. They share more than 96% of their DNA code with humans, and their digestive tract is functionally very similar. [35] Chimpanzees are primarily frugivores, but they could and would consume and digest animal flesh, given the opportunity. In general, their actual diet in the wild is about 95% plant-based, with the remaining 5% filled with insects, eggs, and baby animals. [36] [37] In some ecosystems, however, chimpanzees are predatory, forming parties to hunt monkeys. [38] Some comparative studies of human and higher primate digestive tracts do suggest that humans have evolved to obtain greater amounts of calories from sources such as animal foods, allowing them to shrink the size of the gastrointestinal tract relative to body mass and to increase the brain mass instead. [39] [40]

      Paleolithic peoples suffered less famine and malnutrition than the Neolithic farming tribes that followed them. [41] [42] This was partly because Paleolithic hunter-gatherers accessed to a wider variety natural foods, which allowed them a more nutritious diet and a decreased risk of famine. [41] [43] [44] Many of the famines experienced by Neolithic (and some modern) farmers were caused or amplified by their dependence on a small number of crops. [41] [43] [44] It is thought that wild foods can have a significantly different nutritional profile than cultivated foods. [45] The greater amount of meat obtained by hunting big game animals in Paleolithic diets than Neolithic diets may have also allowed Paleolithic hunter-gatherers to enjoy a more nutritious diet than Neolithic agriculturalists. [42] It has been argued that the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture resulted in an increasing focus on a limited variety of foods, with meat likely taking a back seat to plants. [46] It is also unlikely that Paleolithic hunter-gatherers were affected by modern diseases of affluence such as Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, because they ate mostly lean meats and plants and frequently engaged in intense physical activity, [47] [48] and because the average lifespan was shorter than the age of common-onset of these conditions. [49] [50]

      Large-seeded legumes were part of the human diet long before the Neolithic agricultural revolution, as evident from archaeobotanical finds from the Mousterian layers of Kebara Cave, in Israel. [51] There is evidence suggesting that Paleolithic societies were gathering wild cereals for food use at least as early as 30,000 years ago. [52] However, seeds, such as grains and beans, were rarely eaten and never in large quantities on a daily basis. [53] Recent archeological evidence also indicates that winemaking may have originated in the Paleolithic, when early humans drank the juice of naturally fermented wild grapes from animal-skin pouches. [25] Paleolithic humans consumed animal organ meats, including the livers, kidneys and brains. Upper Paleolithic cultures appear to have had significant knowledge about plants and herbs and may have, albeit very rarely, practiced rudimentary forms of horticulture. [54] In particular, bananas and tubers may have been cultivated as early as 25,000 BP in southeast Asia. [55] Late Upper Paleolithic societies also appear to have occasionally practiced pastoralism and animal husbandry, presumably for dietary reasons. For instance, some European late Upper Paleolithic cultures domesticated and raised reindeer, presumably for their meat or milk, as early as 14,000 BP. [56] Humans also probably consumed hallucinogenic plants during the Paleolithic period. [11] The Australian Aborigines have been consuming a variety of native animal and plant foods, called bushfood, for an estimated 60,000 years, since the Middle Paleolithic.

      People during the Middle Paleolithic, such as the Neanderthals and Middle Paleolithic Homo sapiens in Africa, began to catch shellfish for food as revealed by shellfish cooking in Neanderthal sites in Italy about 110,000 years ago and Middle Paleolithic Homo sapiens sites at Pinnacle Point, in Africa around 164,000 BP. [17] [57] Although fishing only became common during the Upper Paleolithic, [17] [58] fish have been part of human diets long before the dawn of the Upper Paleolithic and have certainly been consumed by humans since at least the Middle Paleolithic. [59] For example, the Middle Paleolithic Homo sapiens in the region now occupied by the Democratic Republic of the Congo hunted large 6-foot (1.8 m)-long catfish with specialized barbed fishing points as early as 90,000 years ago. [17] [59] The invention of fishing allowed some Upper Paleolithic and later hunter-gatherer societies to become sedentary or semi-nomadic, which altered their social structures. [60] Example societies are the Lepenski Vir as well as some contemporary hunter-gatherers such as the Tlingit. In some instances (at least the Tlingit) they developed social stratification, slavery and complex social structures such as chiefdoms. [32]

      Anthropologists such as Tim White suggest that cannibalism was common in human societies prior to the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, based on the large amount of “butchered human" bones found in Neanderthal and other Lower/Middle Paleolithic sites. [61] Cannibalism in the Lower and Middle Paleolithic may have occurred because of food shortages. [62] However, it may have been for religious reasons, and would coincide with the development of religious practices thought to have occurred during the Upper Paleolithic. [63] [64] Nonetheless, it remains possible that Paleolithic societies never practiced cannibalism, and that the damage to recovered human bones was either the result of ritual post-mortem bone cleaning or predation by carnivores such as saber tooth cats, lions and hyenas. [63]

      3.) A new kind of knapping (Levallois technique): 400,000 to 200,000 years ago

      Stone tools found in a neanderthal flint workshop discovered in Poland.

      A. Wiśniewski/Nauka w Polsce

      Though teardrop-shaped Acheulean handaxes remained the dominant tool technology until around 100,000 years ago, at least one significant innovation emerged long before that among early human species such as Homo neanderthalensis, or Neanderthals.

      Known as the Levallois, or prepared-core technique, it involved striking pieces off a stone core to produce a tortoise-shell like shape, then carefully striking the core again in such a way that a single large, sharp flake can be broken off. The method could produce numerous knife-like tools of predictable size and shape, a considerable advance in toolmaking technology.

      Named for the site outside Paris where archaeologists first recognized and described it in the 1860s, the Levallois technique was widely used in the Mousterian tool culture associated with Neanderthals in Europe, Asia and Africa as late as 40,000 years ago. While Neanderthals were long assumed to be far more primitive than modern humans, their prolific production of such relatively sophisticated tools suggests a more complicated reality.

      Cave That Housed Neandertals and Denisovans Challenges View of Cultural Evolution

      Deep in the Altai mountains of southern Siberia sits a very choice piece of real estate. It&rsquos nothing so newfangled as a ski lodge or one of the traditional wood houses that dot the local countryside. Rather it&rsquos a primeval limestone cave, called Denisova, that overlooks a rushing river and the surrounding forest. Multiple human species, or hominins, have sought shelter in this cave over the past 300,000 years, such is its allure. Artifacts, bits of bone and ancient DNA found in its chambers testify to the presence of these peoples. The site thus offers a rare window on a particularly fascinating period of human evolution, one in which other human species coexisted with our own kind.

      Researchers have long wondered how these groups interacted and influenced one another culturally when they met up, and Denisova could be a key to answering this question. But figuring out which hominin species was present when at the cave and which artifacts they made has proved challenging. Now new efforts to date the remains from Denisova are at last bringing that picture into sharper focus. Two studies published in the January 31 Nature provide a time line of human occupation of the cave. The results raise intriguing questions about the origins of symbolism and certain technologies traditionally considered to be inventions of Homo sapiens alone.

      Archaeologists have been unearthing artifacts from Denisova Cave since the 1980s. The site contains frustratingly little in the way of hominin fossils, however. Most of the bones from the site are mere scraps, too incomplete to assign to a particular species on the basis of their physical characteristics. But in the last decade researchers have managed to recover ancient DNA from some of these fossil bits and from sediments in the cave. The DNA shows both Neandertals and another archaic group known as the Denisovans hung out there. And last year a team reported they had retrieved DNA from what was apparently a hybrid individual who had a Neandertal mom and a Denisovan dad. But for all that scientists have been able to piece together about Denisova, the timing of hominin occupation of the site has remained uncertain, thanks to certain quirks of site formation and preservation as well as the limitations of various techniques used to date archaeological and fossil material.

      In the new studies, two groups of researchers obtained a raft of fresh dates for the stratigraphic levels of interest at the site using a combination of techniques. One group, led by Zenobia Jacobs and Bo Li of the University of Wollongong in Australia, used a method called optically stimulated luminescence to date sediments from the cave. The team also reconstructed the environmental conditions at the site between 300,000 and 20,000 years ago. In the second study, Katerina Douka of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, Thomas Higham of the University of Oxford and their colleagues used radiocarbon dating to ascertain the ages of artifacts spanning the transition from the simpler Middle Paleolithic material culture to the more elaborate Upper Paleolithic one. Most of the human fossils are too old for radiocarbon dating, which maxes out at around 50,000 years. So the team determined the so-called relative genetic ages of the human fossils from the site by comparing their DNA sequences with those obtained from other human fossils and counting the differences between them. Such mutations accumulate at a known rate in modern humans. Using that rate the researchers were able to convert the ancient DNA differences to time. Douka, Higham and their colleagues then fed all of the ages obtained from the radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence methods, along with timing data from the genetic studies and the stratigraphic layers themselves, into a statistical model that calculated the most probable ages for the human fossils.

      The results of these studies reveal Denisovans and Neandertals occupied the cave intermittently from at least 200,000 until around 50,000 years ago during both cooler and warmer climate phases. Denisovans were the first of the two groups to move into the cave and the last to abandon it. They probably overlapped there around 120,000 years ago, and possibly at other times as well.

      The time line hints at a tantalizing possibility for who made the early Upper Paleolithic artifacts at the site, which include animal tooth pendants, a stunning stone bracelet and a needle and other tools crafted from bone. The radiocarbon dates obtained from some of the pendants and bone tools put them at 43,000 to 49,000 years old. There are no known hominin remains of that age from the site&mdashthe youngest specimen is a Denisovan fossil that dates to between 52,000 and 76,000 years ago. Yet Douka, Higham and their colleagues think creators of these artifacts are likely to have been Denisovans. Neandertals appear to have checked out of the cave by around 80,000 years ago. A fossil from the site of Ust&rsquo Ishim documents the presence of our species in western Siberia around 45,000 years ago, which is the right time for it to be the maker of these artifacts. But that site is hundreds of kilometers from Denisova. &ldquoOur Russian colleagues have rightfully argued that we have no modern human fossils at Denisova and no modern human DNA from Denisova sediments, so why invoke modern humans&rdquo to explain the onset of the Upper Paleolithic at the site, Douka says. &ldquoOne might say that given [the Ust&rsquo Ishim fossil], we should assume modern humans made the pendants and bone tools at Denisova, but we don&rsquot have modern human fossils in the Altai at that time.&rdquo Higham adds: &ldquoIt could be modern humans but the most parsimonious explanation for the moment is that it&rsquos Denisovans.&rdquo

      The suggestion Denisovans developed the Upper Paleolithic artifacts at the site bears on a hot topic in paleoanthropology: the origins of modern behavior and cognition. Once upon a time, archaeologists thought only H. sapiens made symbolic items such as jewelry and advanced technology such as standardized bone tools. Then discoveries in the 1970s ignited debate over whether Neandertals also might have invented such items. In recent years evidence has mounted in support of a more sophisticated Neandertal. For instance, last year researchers reported cave paintings in Spain pre-date the arrival of H. sapiens to the region by thousands of years and must therefore be Neandertals&rsquo handiwork. Neandertals, however, are not the only archaic hominin species to show signs of advanced cognition: In 2015 archaeologists unveiled their discovery of a shell that was engraved with a geometric design some 500,000 years ago&mdashlong before the origin of modern humans or Neandertals&mdashthe implication being that an earlier human ancestor known from this time period, Homo erectus, must have been the designer.

      Could Denisovans have independently developed modern cognitive capabilities, too? Archaeologist Francesco d&rsquoErrico of the University of Bordeaux in France, who was not involved in the new studies, contends the paucity of relevant archaeological material from the site and insufficient description of these remains &ldquomake it difficult to reach a firm conclusion.&rdquo But &ldquoI&rsquom not against the idea,&rdquo he says. &ldquoI do not see why archaic hominins could have not invented personal ornamentation independently and repeatedly, and a lot of evidence from Europe is now supporting this view.&rdquo

      Watch the video: Η εποχή του λίθου Α Παλαιολιθική εποχή. Ιστορία Γ Δημοτικού (January 2023).

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