2-Million-Year-Old Stone Tools Discovered: How Were Humans Back Then?
Ancient Artifacts and findings in Kalahari. Archaeologists discover new site in East Africa.
Medieval Beads: The Truth behind the African Trade Routes.
The Oldest Bedding Found in South Africa. South African ‘lost city’ found using laser technology.
The 2021 year. 2-Million-Year-Old Stone Tools Discovered: How Were Humans Back Then?
The Olduvai Gorge / Oldupai Gorge in Tanzania has always been one of the most important paleoanthropological sites all around the world. It has given such proofs that paves the understanding of early human evolution. It is because many groups of scientists have been finding hundreds of fossilized bones and stone tools in this area which are from millions of years ago. Ewass Oldupa, the western area of the place, is a 28 miles long canyon which is famous for its hominin fossils. This important place has indeed kept up to the expectation and has gifted the scientists some more stone tools recently which are estimated to date between 2 and 1.8 million years old!
Let’s dig a bit deeper. An international team, consisting Canadian researchers from the University of Calgary and McMaster, has discovered these stone tools. Researches have proved that these stone tools belonged to the Oldowan, which is actually the oldest known stone tool industry. Oldowan is estimated to be from 2.5-2.6 million years ago. This ancient tool industry was manufactured by Homo habilis, who are known to be the ancestors of Homo sapiens.
The discovery reveals that the earliest hominins from this region were much more efficient than others. They occupied the diversified and rapidly changing environment – fern meadows, naturally burned landscapes, lakeside palm groves and what not! This actually refers to the fact that early humans could make really good plans and they learned to adapt to the environmental change which allowed them to make such great tools. No doubt, the co-author, Professor Tristan Carter (McMaster University), himself said that “The exposed canyon wall reveals million years of geological history and ancient sediments have preserved the stone artifacts remarkably, as well as human and faunal remains.”
Now, the research scientists have done comes up with quite a few findings. Let’s have a look.
- By the concentration of the stone tools and fossils found at the site make, it is quite evident that both human and animal life were centered around water sources.
- It is also clear to us now that the geological, sedimentary and plant landscapes around the area have been changing a lot and at a high speed, yet humans kept coming back to Ewass Oldupa to use the local resources.
- Scientists compared the chemical composition of these tools and other pre-determined rocks. It turned out that these tools were obtained km away from the site they were discovered.
- These habitats were regularly blanketed by ash. Besides, sometimes these were reworked by mass flows (associated with volcanic eruptions). Following this fact, the co-author from Dar es Salaam University named Dr. Pastory Bushozi said that, “The occupation of varied and unstable environments, including after volcanic activity, is one of the earliest examples of adaptation to major ecological transformation.”
All these facts actually indicate that even at the early stage of human evolution, human showed well-planned behavior. The artifacts show that human ancestors have been occupying different environment with only one tool kit. This tells us how flexible humans were at that time in terms of their behavior as well as ecological adaptability. Adding to that, there is no doubt the artifacts are truly spectacular in terms of their age. As mentioned before, the geological phenomenon of that time was changing rapidly and to a great extent, and humans indeed adapted to these situations perfectly. All these comments are not from any random person, but from specialists like the co-author Julien Favreau who is a Ph.D candidate at McMaster University; and from the lead author, Dr. Julio Mercader from University of Calgary, himself.
Indeed, we humans are adapting to various situations every now and then; and it is not something by random, rather we have inherited this adapting skill from our very ancestors, whose skills are evident from these researches!
The 2021 year. Ancient Artifacts and findings in Kalahari.
The origin of ‘modern’ human has been the subject of research for a long time now. Many brilliant and enthusiastic researchers organized and participated in many research excavations repeatedly. Their persistence was not in vain as sites like Blombos Cave and Pinnacle Point in South Africa gave much insight regarding ‘modern’ human and showed that the civilization depended on marine sources. These discoveries led to some dominant theories of human evolution. These theories based on the archaeological records of Africa supports that the complex symbolic and technological behavior that characterize Homo sapiens emerged from Southern Africa. However, some researchers, like archaeologist Dr Jayne Wilkins, weren’t completely satisfied with this. She thought that the differences between the coastal and interior were due more to bias than reality. Therefore, by bringing together a team of researchers and local indigenous community members, she launched a research project in the Ga-Mohana Hill, a mountain located near the town of Kuruman in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. The result of their research was more than satisfactory.
Important Artifacts in Kalahari
Wilkins and her team uncovered modern human behavior at the rock shelter in the hillside Ga-Mohana. Ostrich eggshell fragments and a collection of calcite crystals were also found. Sophisticated dating methods like optically stimulated luminescence were used to date the artifacts. They have dated to 105 000 years ago, the same time when similar findings were identified on the coast – except Ga-Mohana Hill is over 650 kilometers (km) from the nearest coastline. The ostrich shells show signs of having been burned indicating humans used them. The shells were also identified as water storage containers, pointing to intentional behavior from our ancient ancestors.
Early humans used stone tools for making hunting spears, butchery and cutting as pointed by a matte black stone with mineral specs nicknamed ‘Galaxy Chert’. Though many important artifacts were found, the calcite crystals remain the most fascinating ones.
“Our analysis indicates the crystals were not introduced via natural processes but were deliberately collected objects likely linked to spiritual beliefs and ritual,” says Wilkins.
Evidence of pools and waterfalls
The artifacts are not the only findings the team discovered, they also found a dry, barren terrain that indicates the existence of ancient flowing waterfalls and shallow pools of standing water.
“The hillside around the rock-shelter is covered in a rock type called tufa, which would have formed as ancient water flowed along the sides and pooled above the shelter,” says Pickering, who is a co-author on the paper and a senior lecturer at the UCT Department of Geological Sciences.
Tufa slowly gathers as water flows to forms layers. The researchers used a dating method called uranium-thorium dating and found the layers to be between 110 and 100 000 years old, the same time when the people were living there.
“The record of water in the rocks not only matches the archaeological record but also provides evidence of a crucial resource for the people living at Ga-Mohana,” Pickering says.
Kuruman, a community just 12km from Ga-Mohana, is familiar with the ancient findings. “Water is deeply significant at Ga-Mohana,” says paper co-author and Kuruman local, Dr Sechaba Maape a senior lecturer at the Wits University School of Architecture and Planning.
“The indigenous worldview of the people from Kuruman is a type of animism. The water snake, which is believed to live at Ga-Mohana, is a kind of metaphor for this world view. Life, or that which is alive, is associated with water,” he says.
Noga ya Metsi, the Great Water Snake is a deity associated with water or life.
The results of the excavation were published in Nature on 31 March. The coastal narrative of human origins was given new directions and valuable perceptions were added into climate change in the Kalahari while making attempts at transforming archaeology in South Africa, a country long disoriented by colonial disruption. Hopefully, join projects like Wilkins and Maape will take things to a fresh route.
The 2020 year. Archaeologists discover new site in East Africa
Archeologists have uncovered an antiquated covered town in Ethiopia that was occupied for a very long time. The town was important for an incredible civilization considered Aksum that ruled East Africa for quite a long time and exchanged with other extraordinary forces like the Roman Empire.
“This is quite possibly the main old civilizations, however individuals [in the Western world] don’t have any acquaintance with it,” says Michael Harrower of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. “Outside of Egypt and Sudan, it’s the soonest unpredictable society or significant civilization in Africa.”
The Empire of Aksum dominated East Africa and parts of Arabia from about 80 BC to AD 825. It was one of the leading powers of the time, alongside Rome, Persia, and China. Its capital, also called Aksum, still exists and has many tall, stone obelisks. After conversations with nearby individuals, the group started uncovering a slope close to a town. The analysts discovered a lattice of stone dividers: the remaining parts of structures. “That is the thing that’s incredible about Ethiopia,” says Harrower. “In Greece and Rome, a ton of spots have been investigated and examined, so there’s not a lot of disclosures of significant antiquated towns anymore.”
The scientists called the town Beta Samati, which signifies “place of crowd” in the neighborhood Tigrinya language. The find is “exceptionally critical”, says Jacke Phillips at SOAS University of London. “The greater part of our known Aksumite and pre-Aksumite destinations are old unearthings, quickly directed and severely distributed by the present norms.”
Beta Samati contains numerous little structures, either houses or workshops. There is likewise a huge, rectangular structure distinguished as a “basilica”. In the Roman Empire, basilicas were initially utilized for policy management and courts, and later as spots of Christian love. Aksum initially had a polytheistic religion, affected by customs from the Saba realm in what is currently Yemen. In any case, during the fourth century, King Ezana changed Aksum over to Christianity, so the basilica may have been worked as a Christian church. In accordance with this, the group has tracked down a stone pendant set apart with a Christian cross.
The group additionally discovered a ring, made of copper combination covered with gold leaf, and bearing a red stone called a carnelian engraved with the picture of a bull’s head over a plant or wreath. “It looks a great deal like a Roman ring, aside from the style of the bull badge,” says Harrower. It is possible that Aksum rulers got Roman craftspeople and educated them to adjust Roman plans to suit Aksum culture, says Harrower. Archeologists have since quite a while ago realized that Aksum was a significant exchanging civilization, sending out gold, ivory, elephants and mandrills.
The exchange clearly arrived at Beta Samati. The group found amphorae, presumably used to store wine, which appears to come from Aqaba in what is currently Jordan, and a glass dot most likely from the eastern Mediterranean. The archeologists revealed the remaining parts of a huge basilica tracing all the way back to the fourth century. Such structures were key early places of Christian love in Ethiopia, the investigation said, and the site at Beta Samati has all the earmarks of being one of the first in the Aksumite realm, the scientists said – fabricated not long after King Ezana changed the domain over to Christianity during the mid-fourth century AD.
“That is the thing that makes this revelation so significant,” said Aaron Butts, a teacher of Semitic and Egyptian dialects at Catholic University in Washington, DC, in an email. “The archeological information joined with the radiocarbon dating recommend that the basilica comes from the fourth (or maybe early fifth) century, making it surely among the most punctual known temples in sub-Saharan Africa. What’s more, given the unwavering quality of the archeological information joined with the radio-scientifically measuring, it is by all accounts the soonest safely datable church in Sub-Saharan Africa,” added Butts, who wasn’t engaged with the unearthing.
Relics revealed at the site showed Roman, agnostic, and Christian impacts, delineating the “social variety of this mysterious progress,” the examination said. They incorporated a gold Roman-style ring that included a surprising symbol – an image of a bull and a delicate stone pendant recuperated from outside the basilica with a cross and what seems, by all accounts, to be an engraving in old Ethiopic that peruses “admired.”
Harrower said the ring was the most noteworthy and energizing curio they found. “Also, it paints a significant line of proof. The ring glances extremely Roman in its piece and its style however the emblem of that bull’s head is exceptionally African and is exceptionally not normal for something you would discover in the Mediterranean world and shows the sort of cooperation and blending of these various customs.” He said he trusts the ring would go in plain view locally sooner or later so the nearby local area can profit from the discovery.
The 2020 year. Medieval Beads: The Truth behind the African Trade Routes
The origin of glass beads dates back to ancient times. The chemical composition of the beads can reveal their true source. This identity can be helpful to reconstruct the trade channels between glass production areas and the sites where they were used at different times.
Archaeologists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) working in partnership with the Institut de Recherche sur les Archéomatériaux at the Centre Ernest-Babelon in Orléans, France, analyzed 16 archaeological glass beads found at three rural sites in Mali and Senegal from between the 7th and 13th centuries AD. The scientists believe that these came from Egypt, the Middle East, and the Levantine coast. They found a connection with the international trade system and those beads.
During the development of the large West African state, the trade connection of Africa to Asia and Europe did not stop along the Niger River; it was connected via local and regional trade. Thus, the trans-Saharan and the sub-Saharan trade routes took their shape.
The glass beads mostly came from the junk cargoes shipped by boats in the 18th century. The purpose of those cargoes was to be exchanged for slaves. The beads were found in urban archaeological sites from the medieval period in western sub-Saharan Africa.
According to Anne Mayor, a researcher in the Anthropology Unit in UNIGE’s Faculty of Science, “Trans-Saharan caravans traded guns, horses, luxury objects and salt for gold, ivory, and slaves.”
Now, there are three main components required for making glass. The primary ingredient is silica, i.e., collected from sand or quartz ore, and it has to be melted at high temperatures. As the melting temperature is too high, mineral or vegetable flux is added to fasten the process. Then, shells or lime from limestone rocks serve as a stabilizer for the glass structure.
On the other hand, the whole production process involves several stages that happen in different places. The first step is collecting raw materials and transporting them to a nearby production center where the basic glass is made. Then, it is transported to several centers to manufacture glass objects before distributing them to various trade sites.
Many members of UNIGE have conducted archaeological excavations in different villages and old cemeteries of eastern Senegal and central Mali for decades. They have studied the evolution of lifestyles and unearthed 16 glass beads from between the 7th and 13th centuries AD.
Therefore, the scientists crossmatched the chemical analysis of the beads with historical sources and data from archaeological excavations and learned about the origin of the beads. The scientists used laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) to evaluate the chemical composition of the beads, and their origin was identified as Egypt, the Middle East, and the Levantine coast. They found traces of distant sources, and at least one of them was in eastern Senegal, close to gold mines.
Finally, the western popular ideology is that Africa was disconnected beyond Sahara at that time. However, it is not the case anymore. We can now say that Africa had a connection with Europe and Asia at that time.
The 2020 year. The Oldest Bedding Found in South Africa
Classists found the world’s first bedding in the interior of a cliffside cave in South Africa. They discovered it in the Border Cave, i.e., located in the Lebombo Mountains of KwaZulu-Natal on the eSwatini border. It was dated more than 2,00,000 years ago. According to Science Mag, the preceding oldest known grass bed was 77,000 years old. George Dvorsky recorded that for Gizmodo, which he found in Sibudu, South Africa.
The bedding in Border Cave consists of grass from the broad-leafed plant and mingles with layers of ash. There is an incorporation of burned bone, stone debris, and rounded ochre grains. All of them are of clear anthropogenic origin, and the ash may be used to constrain the movement of ticks and other insects.
An archaeologist at the Autonomous University of Madrid named Javier Baena Preysler says that the preserved bedding will join the ranks of other ‘incredible discoveries’ from the African Archaeological record. However, he was not directly involved in the Border Cave research, and other researchers argue with him. They focused on the uncertainty of the dates.
Lyn Wadley, a Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand and a lead researcher in the Evolutionary Studies Institute, is the person to discover this all. She noticed white dots in the brown earth of the sediment while digging. Wadley then closely looked with a magnifying glass and found plant traces. Therefore, she removed small chunks of the deposit and stabilized them in little jackets of gypsum plaster. Finally, she identified that the plant belongs to the Panicoideae family of grasses.
The number of grass shows the fact that the people brought them into the cave intentionally. She says, “We speculate that laying grass bedding on ash was a deliberate strategy, not only to create a dirt-free, insulated base for the bedding but also to repel crawling insects.” She adds that the ashy foundation of the bedding was a fragment of older grass bedding that had been burned to destroy pests and clean the cave. Moreover, the team found traces of burned camphor bush upon scanning and people in rural East Africa still use that as an aerial insect repellent.
“Through the use of ash and medical plants to repel insects, we realize that they had some pharmacological knowledge,” she adds, “Furthermore, they could extend their stay at favored campsites by planning and cleaning them through burning fusty beds. They, therefore, had some basic knowledge of healthcare through practicing hygiene.”
On the contrary, the researchers are not sure yet whether the people slept on grass or not. They mention it as ‘bedding’ as it seems that the humans would use the comfortable floor surface for sleeping.
Last but not least, Wadley and her team conducted radiocarbon testing on a pair of teeth discovered in the same strata of the cave’s sediments to estimate the bedding’s age. An archaeologist at the University of Haifa named Dani Nadel deems this methodology ‘a bit shaky’. He points that relying upon just two teeth rather than analysis on the actual plant remnants may have yielded inaccurate dates.
The 2019 year. South African ‘lost city’ found using laser technology
South African archaeologists have rediscovered an ancient lost city using laser technology. In South Africa, the absence of a written record implies that its previous remaining parts covered in secret. Ongoing laser symbolism, nonetheless, in the southeast quadrant of Johannesburg, at Suikerbosrand National Park, has uncovered something striking and enormous: a city once home to, maybe, 10,000 individuals that has been lost for a very long time. Its discoverers have given it a placeholder name: “SKBR.” However, others have given it another name “Kweneng.”
The scientists – who are with the University of Witwatersrand – have been contemplating the site in the Suikerbosrand National Park for quite a long time. Underneath the thick vegetation, there isn’t a lot to see with the unaided eye. Also, following thirty years of careful research, archeologists in South Africa have scarcely started to expose this tragically missing settlement. The antiquated city of Kweneng is accepted to be a 200-year-old stretch of land that is situated about 50km south of Johannesburg. Professor Karim Sadr drove a group of archaeologists to uncover the region. Considerably more energizing is the high-level laser innovation the group used to delineate satellite pictures of the city that once housed a province of up to 20 000 residents.
Professor Sadr believes that Kweneng was once home to the Setswana-speaking people. In many respects, it was a thriving city with hundreds of homesteads and trade networks. Presently, however, because of the cutting-edge laser technology of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), this site has been uncovered for what it really was: a genuine city, comprised of many families and trade organizations. For the new study, the analysts utilized a lidar machine to shoot billions of lasers at the ground. When these lasers hit an article, be it a design, a bird, or a tree, they skip back to the machine, which computes the time it took to return. At last, that time gives a distance, which the machine can use to make a 3D geographical guide of the space. Studies currently uncover that Kweneng, which crossed around 20 square kilometers (8 square miles), was at its prime between the fifteenth and nineteenth century. Also, in its prime, the scientists think it was most likely a rich and flourishing city. SKBR sat on the lower inclines of the Suikerbosrand slopes and was involved from the fifteenth century until the later 50% of the 1800s. Its occupants communicated in the Tswana language.
What’s been uncovered qualifies the find as a city, not simply dissipated vestiges — there are 750–800 properties covering a territory around 10 kilometers in length and 2 km wide. (Sadr noticed that the antiquated Mesopotamian city of Ur was extensively more modest for correlation.)
Steers appear to have been imperative to the city’s occupants, as there are stone-walled ways that specialists accept were gone about as channels through which groups were driven. There are additionally two walled-in areas together covering around 10,000 square feet that archeologists suspect were kraals, pens for almost 1,000 bovines. A few sets of parallel rock walls recommend there were various paths into the city, large numbers of which seem as though dairy cattle drives, worked to group cows and other domesticated animals through pieces of the city.
Additionally, in the center of Kweneng are remainders of two monstrous fenced-in areas, which together occupy a room assessed at 10,000 square meters (108,000 square feet). Archeologists working on this issue figure these may have been kraals that housed almost 1,000 heads of steers. Be that as it may, actually like numerous other Tswana urban communities, this one is additionally thought to have fallen into decay after civil unrest. Gone are the residents, the stone pinnacles, the properties, the domesticated animals, and the abundance. On account of LIDAR, notwithstanding, the set of experiences will live on.
LiDAR has likewise empowered archeologists to make computerized pictures of the 800 estates and different designs that housed the city’s assessed populace of 10,000 Tswana-talking individuals. “In the event that you make a game and children can mess with the setting of realizing that is the legacy and knowing what was been there and such a the lodging construction and engineering which was there,” said Witness Mudzamatira, one of the scientists.
“Perhaps the most illuminating things is, as I’ve had the option to comprehend what we were doing in our past you know, it gives us more extensive thought of individuals of southern Africa what their identity was and the sorts of exercises that they did in light of the fact that you would now be able to rediscover that movement line and simply broad cooperation inside the general public,” added Sixwanha. Kweneng – like other Tswana city-states – is accepted to have gone into decrease after a common struggle.