Skip to comments.400,000 year old spears found in an German coal mine!
Posted on 10/11/2010 6:38:35 AM PDT by Red Badger
Researchers in Germany have unearthed 400,000 year old wooden spears from what appears to be an ancient lake shore hunting ground stunning evidence that human ancestors systematically hunted big game much earlier than believed. The three spears, each carved from the trunk of a spruce tree, are 6 feet to more than 7 feet long. They were found with more than 10,000 animal bones, mostly from horses, including many obviously butchered. That indicates the ancient hunters were organized enough to trap horses and strong enough to kill them by throwing spears, perhaps ambushing herds that showed up for water.
Theres no question if you are hunting a group of horses coming along a lake, you must be strong. You have to plan it. You have to organize it, said archeologist Hartmut Thieme, whose crew made the discovery. The spears, found as researchers worked one step ahead of an expanding coal mine, skewer the idea that humans at that time depended on scavenging and foraging, experts said. What its telling us is these people were very sophisticated, competent hunters, said Robin Dennell, a professor of prehistory at the University of Sheffield in England. They were perfectly capable of long-term planning and foresight. And they must have been awfully strong, far stronger than I am. Those spears are longer than I am.
Before the new find, there had been some evidence of systematic hunting about 200,000 years ago. The spears are twice that old. In addition, some researchers have argued that such hunting didnt truly begin until about 40,000 years ago. Thieme, who works for the state of Lower Saxony in Germany, reported his crews discoveries last week in the journal Nature. He and colleagues had found the spears in 1995 near Schoeningen, about 60 miles southeast of Hanover. Since the Nature paper was written, his crew has come across pieces of a fourth spear. The spears were obviously made with care. After chopping down an appropriate tree and stripping off the bark and branches, the ancient hunters carved the tip at the base of the trunk, where the wood is hardest.
The spears were shaped to be thickest toward the front with a long tapering tail, like modern javelins, which suggests they were meant for throwing rather than jabbing. After all that work theyre not going to throw it at a squirrel in a dark night, said Dennell, who wrote a Nature commentary on the spears. These people were serious about hunting.
Frank Herrold, an anthropologist at the University of Texas at Arlington , said the spears will have to be studied further to establish that they were really meant to be thrown. The hunters, called archaic Homo sapiens or Homo heidelbergensis, were distant ancestors of Neanderthals. They hunted in a cool climate like that of central Norway today. They sought game in a landscape of large meadows with spruce and birch trees. A few of their spears were preserved over the eons because they were waterlogged , a rare stroke of luck, noted F. Clark Howell, emeritus professor of paleoanthropology at the University of California at Berkeley
This finding demonstrates what a few people have guessed at . . . that were dealing with a hunting people, that hunting is an important part of their lives, he said.
Radiocarbon dating has confirmed that three wooden spears found in a coal mine in Schöningen, near Hannover, Germany, are the oldest complete hunting weapons ever found. Some 380,000 to 400,000 years old, the six- to 7.5-foot javelins were found in soil whose acids had been neutralized by a high concentration of chalk near the coal pit.
And what about this?
Thousands of pieces of horse, elephant, and deer bone were also found at Schöningen. The bones showed cut marks from stone flints found with grooved wooden tools that probably held the flints. If Thieme can prove the flints were hafted in the wooden tools, they will be the oldest known composite tools in the world.
This is also strange!
The Clacton lance tip suggested that people may have been hunting; the three spears from Schöningen now make it fairly certain that they were not merely scavenger-gatherers. That early man hunted big game is supported by the recent discovery of a fossilized rhinoceros shoulder blade with a projectile wound at Boxgrove, England, dated to 500,000 years ago.
“400,000 year old spears”
I knew Brtiny was aging badly, but I never guessed she was that old.
Only a Neanderthal could butcher a horse.
Or a hungry redneck...............
Perhaps those huge, cumbersome spears were held by more than one hunter. They might have developed a system of running and hurling in unison. More strength, velocity and reach.
Beer was invented (as far as we know) in Egypt or Mesopotamia around 5000 BC, give or take a millenia or two. It wasn’t until 1400’s AD that Germany perfected it...............
Yeah, but what were they doing in a coal mine back then?
Starting Global Warming, trying to melt the mile thick ice sheet..............
Those spears were most likely thrusting weapons and not thrown, especially since they are not straight and wouldn’t fly properly. It is also estimated that modern humans appeared about 50,000 years ago so its likely those spears were used by neanderthals.
So, the Germans were trying to take over the World even 400000 years ago! Obviously the remains of an ancient military-industrial complex.
As spears go, this is shortish. Much shorter and you've got a dart, not a spear.
They were midget neanderthals?.................
If these spears from the coal mine are seven feet long, then I would not consider them to be "shortish".
Of course, the Macedonian phalanx used the sarissa, a thrusting spear, that was 16 feet long, but that's a whole 'nother thing.
Fell in what was a peat bog back then
Bog was compressed by sediments on top - over eons the peat
was turned in coal
Probably low grade lignite - first step on becoming coal
It is strip mined to burn in power plants
The modern horse is much larger than its ancestors thanks to controlled breeding by humans who liked big horses.
Even today killing and butchering a zebra is not without effort, although if you use a firearm it cuts out a lot of the preliminary stuff.