A new study published in the journal Science has challenged the long-held archaeological theory that sophisticated stone tools were developed in Africa and spread to Eurasia with population expansion. A team of scientists led by Daniel Adler of the University of Connecticut analyzed artifacts recovered from a 325,000-year old site in Armenia.

Our ancestors didn’t rely on technology transfer

Researchers found that ‘local innovation,’ not population expansion, drove technological advancement in Old World. It means our ancestors didn’t wait for “technology transfer” from one place to another. Instead, they tried to invent new technologies themselves. That’s how new technologies appeared in Eurasia more than 300,000 years ago.

Adler said ancient human technological innovation occurred intermittently throughout the world. Analysis of stone artifacts from the Nor Geghi 1 site showed that refined stone weapons were developed in Armenia. Nor Geghi 1 sits between two lava flows. Study of sediment and volcanic ash at the site indicated that the stone tools were between 325,000 and 335,000 years old. This human innovation occurred independently in different populations, said researchers.

'Local Innovation' Drove Advancement In Old World: Study

 

Innovation during Stone Age

Stone tools provided evidence for simultaneous use of two different technologies. One was biface technology, which was linked to hand axe production during the Lower Paleolithic period. Another, the Levallois technology, was more sophisticated where a stone was carved in the shape of a knife or other sharp object. The latter innovation is typically attributed to the Middle Paleolithic age in Eurasia and the Middle Stone Age in Africa.

Researchers argue that the co-existence of two technologies at the Nor Geghi 1 site in Armenia is the first clear evidence that local people developed Levallois out of the existing biface technology. They compared archaeological data from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Scientists found that the evolution of stone tools was gradual and intermittent. It indicates that the Levallois evolved from the biface technology at different times in different places.