Excavation of an East African cave is offering clues to human culture and innovation over an expansive period starting 78,000 years ago.
The artifacts suggest that tool- and bead-making technologies did not grow in large spurts, which many archaeologists theorized was the case during the later Stone Age periods. Instead, scientists have discovered incremental advances in tool creation, with old and new tools used side by side. In addition, artistic trends like beads, ochre and bone designs come and go from the archaeological record. In the Stone Age, there were no apparent “eureka!” moments, the researchers’ study suggests.
“Our evidence shows a slow and steady progression of technology and material culture, and a mix of technologies through time,” says Michael Petraglia, an archaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, and coauthor of the paper. “We could find no drama in the archaeological record [that] could support any kind of cultural revolution.”
The information is presented in a paper published Wednesday, May 9, in Nature Communications. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-04057-3