By Justin Beach, Daily Digest News
Many archeologists believe that Levallois technology was invented in Africa and then spread to Eurasia during a mass migration roughly 300,000 years ago. This view is so pervasive that it is generally used to mark the transition from the Lower to the Middle Paleolithic era.
However, tools found at a site in Armenia demonstrate that the technological shift more likely happened independently, in a variety of human groups at different times rather than spreading en mass during the migration from Africa.
The site Nor Geghi 1, in Armenia, is preserved between two lava flows which occurred roughly 200,000 to 400,000 years ago. Ancient floodplain sediments between the lava flows contain a variety of archeological materials from the Paleolithic era. The dating of volcanic ash within the sediments show that the artifacts date from a 10,000 year period between 335,000 and 325,000 years ago.
Examples of both biface and, the more advanced Levallois technology are among the tools found at the site.
“The combination of these different technologies in one place suggests to us that, about 325,000 years ago, people at the site were innovative,” said Daniel Adler, associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut and the study’s lead author, in a statement.
Biface technology involves chipping away pieces from a stone, in this case obsidian, to create a tool such as a hand axe. In biface technology the pieces chipped away are discarded. The Levallois technique demonstrates more efficient use of materials by exercising greater control over the chipping process. The chips removed using the Levallois technique were generally of a size and shape to be useful for other purposes.
“If I were to take all the artifacts from the site and show them to an archaeologist, they would immediately begin to categorize them into chronologically distinct groups,” said Adler.
However, a comparison of the tools along with similar tools from Africa, the Middle East and Europe demonstrates that the technological evolution was intermittent and gradual and occurred independently in a variety of populations, rather than all at once because of a demographic shift.
The research from Adler and his colleagues can be found in the September 26 edition of the journal Science.