Stone weapons from 77,000 years ago found in South Africa


Stone weapons hurled through the air 77,000 years ago have been unearthed in South Africa.

The teardrop-shaped tools were used as projectile weapons in the Middle Stone Age, according to researchers.

Archaeologists believe the serrated rocks were hand-thrown or lobbed by bows to hunt animals.

Stone weapons (pictured) hurled through the air 77,000 years ago have been unearthed in South Africa

Stone weapons (pictured) hurled through the air 77,000 years ago have been unearthed in South Africa

Stone weapons (pictured) hurled through the air 77,000 years ago have been unearthed in South Africa

STONE WEAPONS 

The teardrop-shaped tools were used as projectile weapons in the Middle Stone Age, according to researchers. 

The researchers found that 14 of the 25 point fragments bore evidence of impact-related damage, animal residues, and wear features.

These features strongly indicate that the stone tools may have been used for hunting.

Further examination of the impact-related fractures indicated that these points may have been attached to handles to form projectile weapons, and that these weapons were projected from a distance, most likely with a flexible spear-thrower or a bow.

The South African Middle Stone Age is considered a period of major technological advancement, with hunter-gatherers introducing new manipulative techniques using heat and pressure to create stone projectile weapons.

But the timing and location of these developments is a topic of much debate.

Researchers examined 25 weapon point fragments excavated from the Sibudu Cave site in South Africa.

They analysed their technological and functional differences by comparing them with reference samples produced for the purpose by an experienced knapper.

Some of the points had two faces – a likely result of applying pressure to both sides.

Some had serrations, or jagged edges, that were likely produced by a technique known as pressure flaking.

Close-up images of the serrated edges of the stone weapons. The teardrop-shaped tools were used as projectile weapons in the Middle Stone Age, according to researchers

Close-up images of the serrated edges of the stone weapons. The teardrop-shaped tools were used as projectile weapons in the Middle Stone Age, according to researchers

Close-up images of the serrated edges of the stone weapons. The teardrop-shaped tools were used as projectile weapons in the Middle Stone Age, according to researchers

The researchers found that 14 of the 25 point fragments bore evidence of impact-related damage, animal residues, and wear features.

These features strongly indicate that the stone tools may have been used for hunting.

‘The South African Middle Stone Age (MSA) surprises by the multiplicity of the archaeological discoveries,’ the scientists from the University of Liège, Belgium, led by Dr Veerle Rots, said in a research paper.

‘Technical innovations are important testimonials of the evolution of human societies since they have the potential to reflect new adaptations of societies to their environment, new social and economic organisations, as well as differences in cognitive architectures [intelligence].’

Scientific drawings of the rock weapons. Some had serrations, or jagged edges, that were likely produced by a technique known as pressure flaking

Scientific drawings of the rock weapons. Some had serrations, or jagged edges, that were likely produced by a technique known as pressure flaking

Scientific drawings of the rock weapons. Some had serrations, or jagged edges, that were likely produced by a technique known as pressure flaking

‘We focus on an unpublished collection of bifacial serrated points that was discovered in the deep deposits of the site of Sibudu.’ 

Further examination of the impact-related fractures indicated that these points may have been attached to handles to form projectile weapons, and that these weapons were projected from a distance, most likely with a flexible spear-thrower or a bow.

The find pushes back the earliest date for pressure flaking during the South African Middle Stone Age to 77,000 years ago.

Rock weapons were found in the Sibudu Cave, a rock shelter in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Rock weapons were found in the Sibudu Cave, a rock shelter in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Rock weapons were found in the Sibudu Cave, a rock shelter in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

STONE COVERED IN PAINT FROM 49,000 YEARS AGO IS FOUND 

Researchers claim that South Africans made paint from milk and ochre 49,000 years ago, which they may have used to decorate themselves or stone slabs

Researchers claim that South Africans made paint from milk and ochre 49,000 years ago, which they may have used to decorate themselves or stone slabs

Researchers claim that South Africans made paint from milk and ochre 49,000 years ago, which they may have used to decorate themselves or stone slabs

A 49,000-year-old stone flake covered in the milk and ochre based paint was found in a layer of Sibudu Cave, a rock shelter in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

It’s the first time that milk proteins have been identified in an ochre-based paint.

Experts think the ancient people probably got the milk by killing lactating members of the bovid family, such as buffalo, eland, kudu and impala.

This hints that the paint was highly valued by them.

Ochre and milk paint may have been used to decorate the body, preserve hides and used as an adhesive to make stone tools. 



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