origin of humans; early use of wood (Origins)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, September 20, 2023, 18:11 (267 days ago) @ David Turell

Half a million years ago:

https://www.sciencealert.com/evidence-of-a-wooden-structure-that-predates-our-species-u...

"Uncovered in 2019 at the Kalambo Falls in Zambia, the objects provide archaeologists with an exceptionally rare look at wooden technology from mid-Paleolithic Africa, a time better known for an acceleration in the innovations of stone tools. The logs also predate the evolution of our own species, Homo sapiens.

"An analysis conducted by an international team of researchers has now come to the astonishing conclusion that the wooden artifacts were once part of a permanent structure of some kind, such as a platform or building.

"If so, the discovery complicates the conventional image of hominins as nomads hunting migrating herds or gathering seasonal flora with relatively basic tools.

"'This find has changed how I think about our early ancestors," says University of Liverpool archaeologist Larry Barham, leader of a project researching Stone Age technology called Deep Roots of Humanity.

"'Forget the label 'Stone Age,' look at what these people were doing: they made something new, and large, from wood. They used their intelligence, imagination, and skills to create something they'd never seen before, something that had never previously existed." (my bold)

"While indirect signs of woodworking by mid-Pleistocene hominins can be found in the form of plant residue or patterns of wear on stone tools, Stone Age items carved from timber rarely survive the ages.

"At nearly 800 thousand years old, a solitary plank with a polished surface found in Israel is the current record holder for world's earliest prime example of carpentry.

***

"While it's impossible to determine the purpose of the interlocking sections, viewed in association with other discoveries at the site, including several other small wooden artifacts and stone implements, the authors tentatively interpret the findings as structural.

"To determine when the items may have been crafted, the researchers applied a version of infrared stimulated luminescence dating to determine when minerals called feldspar in the surrounding sediment were last bathed in sunlight.

"That figure, of just under 450 to 500 thousand years ago, puts the construction well before the era in which our own species is believed to have emerged.

"To take the time and effort to construct large, wooden items that can't be easily transported, we might presume the structure's makers would be relatively settled in one place, or at least frequent visitors.

"'They transformed their surroundings to make life easier, even if it was only by making a platform to sit on by the river to do their daily chores. These folks were more like us than we thought," says Barham.

"With its perennial waters, lush greenery, and stunning views, it's not hard to see why our ancestors kept coming back to the falls at Kalambo River since long before we were even human."

Comment: could these folks be Erectus? And quite advanced for primarily stone age. Note my bold. They had a very competant brain.


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