Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Archaeologists identify spear tips used in hunting a half-million years ago
Phys.Org ^ | Provided by University of Toronto

Posted on 11/15/2012 12:05:23 PM PST by Red Badger

A University of Toronto-led team of anthropologists has found evidence that human ancestors used stone-tipped weapons for hunting 500,000 years ago – 200,000 years earlier than previously thought.

"This changes the way we think about early human adaptations and capacities before the origin of our own species," says Jayne Wilkins, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto and lead author of a new study in Science. "Although both Neandertals and humans used stone-tipped spears, this is the first evidence that the technology originated prior to or near the divergence of these two species," says Wilkins. Attaching stone points to spears – known as 'hafting' – was an important advance in hunting weaponry for early humans. Hafted tools require more effort and foreplanning to manufacture, but a sharp stone point on the end of a spear can increase its killing power. Hafted spear tips are common in Stone Age archaeological sites after 300,000 years ago. This new study shows that they were also used in the early Middle Pleistocene, a period associated with Homo heidelbergensis and the last common ancestor of Neandertals and modern humans.

"It now looks like some of the traits that we associate with modern humans and our nearest relatives can be traced further back in our lineage", Wilkins says. Wilkins and colleagues from Arizona State University and the University of Cape Town examined 500,000-year-old stone points from the South African archaeological site of Kathu Pan 1 and determined that they had functioned as spear tips. Point function was determined by comparing wear on the ancient points to damage inflicted on modern experimental points used to spear a springbok carcass target with a calibrated crossbow. This method has been used effectively to study weaponry from more recent contexts in the Middle East and southern Africa. The stone points exhibit certain types of breaks that occur more commonly when they are used to tip spears compared to other uses.

"The archaeological points have damage that is very similar to replica spear points used in our spearing experiment," says Wilkins. "This type of damage is not easily created through other processes." The findings are reported in the paper "Evidence for Early Hafted Hunting Technology" published in the November 16, 2012 issue of Science. Other authors contributing to the study are Benjamin Schoville from Arizona State University, Kyle Brown of the University of Cape Town, and University of Toronto archaeologist Michael Chazan. Funding for the research was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the National Science Foundation, and the Hyde Family Foundation. Logistical support came from the South African Heritage Resources Agency and the McGregor Museum, Kimberley, South Africa. The points were recovered during 1979-1982 excavations by Peter Beaumont of the McGregor Museum. In 2010, a team directed by Chazan reported that the point-bearing deposits at Kathu Pan 1 dated to ~500,000 years ago using optically stimulated luminescence and U-series/electron spin resonance methods.

The dating analyses were carried out by Naomi Porat, Geological Survey of Israel, and Rainer Grün, Australian National University.

Journal reference: Science


TOPICS: Canada; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: ggg; godsgravesglyphs

This is a ~500,000-year-old point from Kathu Pan 1. Multiple lines of evidence from a University of Toronto-led study indicate that points from Kathu Pan 1 were used as hafted spear tips. Scale bar = 1 cm. Credit: Jayne Wilkins

These are examples of experimental hafted points from a University of Toronto-led study. Points were hafted to wooden dowels using Acacia resin and sinew and then thrust into a springbok carcass target using a calibrated crossbow. The Kathu Pan 1 archaeological points show a similar pattern of edge damage to these experimental points. Credit: Jayne Wilkins

This is a mounted crossbow used for spearing experiments in a University of Toronto-led study that showed that ~500,000-year-old points from Kathu Pan 1 were used as hafted spear tips. Credit: Benjamin Schoville

1 posted on 11/15/2012 12:05:28 PM PST by Red Badger
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping!.............


2 posted on 11/15/2012 12:05:55 PM PST by Red Badger (Lincoln freed the slaves. Obama just got them ALL back......................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
Archaeologists identify spear tips used in hunting a half-million years ago

Oh, why not make it three million years ago? Or sixteen million? As long as we're making up numbers, why not shoot for the moon? A billion years ago!

All these dating guesses are based on a very shaky presuppositon: i.e., that the method used for dating would hold true all the way back to the beginning, that nothing intervened to skew the data and thus make the methodology suspect, and that there could be no other explanation possible for the data observed.

3 posted on 11/15/2012 12:19:14 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (No one knows how old the earth is. And it is unknowable.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Not trying to call into question their methods of study, but what? They are using a calibrated crossbow to study how the points break?

I spent many a day as a young girl trying to throw a spear, being a young girl I obviously was flawed but I did learn something from that, besides the fact that I didn’t have the strength to stay alive from spear kills...it’s very hard to throw a spear straight. Even when the shaft is very straight, it’s like golf, every inflection of your muscle movement affects the trajectory and the shaft definitely hasn’t a straight line. In fact some of the weight of the shaft is different at different portions of it, affecting it’s direction.

How can a machine tell them what the results of a man thrown spear would be...and I say man because I already know, a girl couldn’t kill a rabbit with it for a few months, but hey, it’s nice to be thin;)


4 posted on 11/15/2012 12:20:40 PM PST by Beowulf9
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Beowulf9

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atl-atl


5 posted on 11/15/2012 12:24:01 PM PST by Red Badger (Lincoln freed the slaves. Obama just got them ALL back......................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Beowulf9

The base of the dart is carefully located on the spur of the atlatl, so that it can rotate during launch

6 posted on 11/15/2012 12:25:15 PM PST by Red Badger (Lincoln freed the slaves. Obama just got them ALL back......................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger
I understand carbon dating and all that, but I never understand this part:

They know how old the rock is, but how do they know when the rock became an arrowhead?

And they know how to date the surrounding soil, but how do they know when something came to reside in that soil? When did humans first invent burying stuff?

7 posted on 11/15/2012 12:31:10 PM PST by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Beowulf9

I know what you mean. I ince had one of those ball and cap Pennsylvania rifles and I used to practice with it. Found out that if I had lived back in the day I0d have probaly starved to death.


8 posted on 11/15/2012 12:32:11 PM PST by Americanexpat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Did they verify these theories with Helen Thomas or Madonna or other people who are 500,000 years old?


9 posted on 11/15/2012 12:32:25 PM PST by GrandJediMasterYoda (Someday our schools we will teach the difference between "lose" and "loose")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Maybe look at spears more as a hand to hand tool. I’ve seen people spear fish. Why not other critters.


10 posted on 11/15/2012 12:34:13 PM PST by Sacajaweau
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Krog say woman not that tall. Shadow is trick.


11 posted on 11/15/2012 12:35:45 PM PST by GrandJediMasterYoda (Someday our schools we will teach the difference between "lose" and "loose")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: dead

I assume that the arrowheads were embedded in some organic material that could be reliably dated, but carbon dating is good only for about 50k years. After that you have to use some other method..............

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dating


12 posted on 11/15/2012 12:38:03 PM PST by Red Badger (Lincoln freed the slaves. Obama just got them ALL back......................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson

It’s because a “scientist” said so!


13 posted on 11/15/2012 12:38:19 PM PST by DennisR (Look around - God gives countless, indisputable clues that He does, indeed, exist.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: GrandJediMasterYoda; tx_eggman

Brog say hairy woman in back keep you warmer in winter...


14 posted on 11/15/2012 12:38:52 PM PST by SpinnerWebb (In 2012 you will awaken from your HOPEnosis and have no recollection of this... "Constitution")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: dead

I’m always screaming about this “dating” bit with the same logic. In 1989, I was on a lonely road in Virginia, got out and with real mason tools, carved 1789 and initials in an old boulder just a bit off the road....I would love it if someone defined the initials and date someday...and it got a big write up.


15 posted on 11/15/2012 12:38:52 PM PST by Sacajaweau
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson

And you can’t date rock. The points can only be aged by associating them with things around them, often charcoal from campfires, etc.
Association has to be done with extreme care because campsites are found in the same places, for the same reasons, from wildly differing eras.

Sometimes you get lucky, like the guy who found the first Folsom point embedded in the bone of an extinct species of Bison. But thats rare.


16 posted on 11/15/2012 12:48:21 PM PST by DesertRhino (I was standing with a rifle, waiting for soviet paratroopers, but communists just ran for office.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Save these spear tips. The way the obama economy is going we may need them.


17 posted on 11/15/2012 12:50:56 PM PST by From The Deer Stand
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: From The Deer Stand

We can make more...............


18 posted on 11/15/2012 12:51:52 PM PST by Red Badger (Lincoln freed the slaves. Obama just got them ALL back......................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Sacajaweau
I’m always screaming about this “dating” bit with the same logic.

Stones are very hard to date directly. They are likely dating them from the layer they are imbedded in. If you look at the positions and how they were documented and found, you could make a determination if they had a good case or not.

19 posted on 11/15/2012 12:53:15 PM PST by marktwain
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Americanexpat

I know what you mean. I ince had one of those ball and cap Pennsylvania rifles and I used to practice with it. Found out that if I had lived back in the day I0d have probaly starved to death.

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/hns/indians/offense.html

Mark Twain wrote about the outlandish and ridiculous claims of frontier markmanship by the pioneers. You might enjoy it.


20 posted on 11/15/2012 12:55:44 PM PST by DesertRhino (I was standing with a rifle, waiting for soviet paratroopers, but communists just ran for office.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson

So what you are saying is that anything over hmmmmmmmm 6,000 years is BS?


21 posted on 11/15/2012 1:20:46 PM PST by SengirV
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: marktwain
Stones are very hard to date directlyI know what you mean. Isn't carbon dating owned by match.com?
22 posted on 11/15/2012 1:39:40 PM PST by frithguild (You can call me Snippy the Anti-Freeper)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: SengirV
What I'm saying is that dating methods that may possibly work for up to 2,000-3,000 years ago may not necessarily work for going back further than that. It assumes you can extrapolate. It does not allow for other factors that may have intervened and skewed the data.

I am not saying that the earth is only 6,000 years old. No one knows--or can know--how old the earth is. That is beyond the realm of science.

23 posted on 11/15/2012 1:46:42 PM PST by Charles Henrickson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson

Took flint napping in college, if I remember right there is a way to determine the age of the fracture based on the exposed cortex of the stone. I will have to look in my books to see what i can find. If the stone was heat treated, you can use thermo-luminecense(sp?) to date the heating event. North American indians often heated flint and other stone in order to make them easier to work with.


24 posted on 11/15/2012 2:49:36 PM PST by Docbarleypop
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; decimon; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; ...

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks Red Badger.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


25 posted on 11/16/2012 3:38:12 AM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Red Badger; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; decimon; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; ...

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks Red Badger.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


26 posted on 11/16/2012 3:39:15 AM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Beowulf9

think atl atl


27 posted on 11/16/2012 4:25:07 AM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Present failure and impending death yield irrational action))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Sacajaweau

A lonely road in Virginia is pretty vague. Perhaps it could be discovered if you were more specific.

I live near many many lonely roads in Southwest Virginia and might be the discoverer if pointed in the right direction.

Would that be cheating?


28 posted on 11/16/2012 4:31:06 AM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Present failure and impending death yield irrational action))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: DennisR
Yeah...those durn dumb 'scientists' again. The same dumb ones who came up with antibiotics, beta blockers, monoclonal antibodies for treating cancer, nuclear fission, lasers, internal combustion engines, computers, etc. etc. etc. What could they possibly know?
29 posted on 11/16/2012 5:55:53 AM PST by Pharmboy (Democrats lie because they must.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: DesertRhino

For goodness sake! I take it that Mark Twain was NOT an admirer of James Fennimore Cooper’s work. Methinks I note a bit of jeolousy there. He certainly can turn a phrase.


30 posted on 11/16/2012 7:36:26 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Too clever by halft...


31 posted on 11/16/2012 7:54:37 AM PST by null and void (America - Abducted by Aliens...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: null and void

I get the point...........


32 posted on 11/16/2012 7:57:52 AM PST by Red Badger (Lincoln freed the slaves. Obama just got them ALL back......................)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson

Yeah, it’s much smarter to assume that all dating methods and aging processes change randomly over time, or that they all magically skew in the same direction by the same amount.

THAT WAY YOU DON’T HAVE TO QUESTION ONE MAN’S COUNTING OF YEARS IN ONE BOOK.

Much simpler.


33 posted on 11/16/2012 7:59:55 AM PST by null and void (America - Abducted by Aliens...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson
All these dating guesses are based on a very shaky presuppositon: i.e., that the method used for dating would hold true all the way back to the beginning,

Like assuming that every "day" is exactly 24 hours, even if you are counting "days" before the darkness was divided from the light.

34 posted on 11/16/2012 8:08:13 AM PST by null and void (America - Abducted by Aliens...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: dead
They know how old the rock is, but how do they know when the rock became an arrowhead?

Cleaving rock exposes a fresh surface, that surface oxidizes and hydrates slowly over time.

If you know the minerals and know the rates of oxidation/hydration, and can measure the depth of the altered crust, you can get a pretty good idea of how fresh the surface is.

35 posted on 11/16/2012 8:15:21 AM PST by null and void (America - Abducted by Aliens...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson
What I'm saying is that dating methods that may possibly work for up to 2,000-3,000 years ago may not necessarily work for going back further than that.

True that.

Which is precisely why they don't Carbon-14 date anything older than ~50,000 years. There simply isn't enough 14C left to provide an accurate date.

Let me correct that, no honest scientist will do that.

I've seem museum displays where "creation scientists" have carbon "dated" artifacts far, far older, then blandly said they must be much younger than those evil atheist scientists claim.

36 posted on 11/16/2012 8:23:41 AM PST by null and void (America - Abducted by Aliens...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: null and void
Yeah, it’s much smarter to assume that all dating methods and aging processes change randomly over time. . . .

Note, I did not say "randomly."

THAT WAY YOU DON’T HAVE TO QUESTION ONE MAN’S COUNTING OF YEARS IN ONE BOOK.

I am not accepting without question any man's counting of years: either a) an age of the earth as 6,000 years, which failed, e.g., to take into account the "telescoping" of genealogies; or b) an age of the earth as bazillions of years, which is based on the presupposition that nothing could have intervened (a worldwide catastrophe, for instance) to affect the results of a dating method that may work up to a certain point. I have said that no one knows, or can know, when "the beginning" was. It is beyond the realm of science.

37 posted on 11/16/2012 8:26:57 AM PST by Charles Henrickson (Science makes a lousy religion.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson
Note, I did not say "randomly."

True that, you said that they all magically skew in the same direction by the same amount.

I have said that no one knows, or can know, when "the beginning" was. It is beyond the realm of science.

I agree that no one knows.

I disagree that knowing is impossible, although any estimation of the exact moment will have some error, in the same sense that the exact distance from New York to Los Angeles can never be specified to the nearest micron.

It is not beyond the realm of science to tease out all the confounding factors. That's what these guys and gals live for!

38 posted on 11/16/2012 8:37:19 AM PST by null and void (America - Abducted by Aliens...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: Beowulf9

yep and all those modern spears killed off all the dinosaurus....mans fault...


39 posted on 11/16/2012 5:34:29 PM PST by goat granny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: goat granny

How did Helen Thomas manage to survive?


40 posted on 11/16/2012 5:36:50 PM PST by dfwgator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: dfwgator

too ugly to approach and not edible....LOL


41 posted on 11/16/2012 5:38:49 PM PST by goat granny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: Pharmboy

There is a HUGE difference between what I call “hard science” - the things you mentioned - and “soft science” - like “scientists” declaring that something was made 200,000 years ago. Oh...and I have a B.S.E.E. and an A.A.S in Chemical Technology. The “S” in each stands for Science - but that would be “hard” science.


42 posted on 11/17/2012 8:24:02 AM PST by DennisR (Look around - God gives countless, indisputable clues that He does, indeed, exist.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Red Badger

Hard to find objects this old when the glaciers keep grinding everything up. I hope the results hold up.


43 posted on 11/17/2012 8:32:50 AM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Stone Age harpoon found on Pacific island
Science News | January 14, 2014 | Bruce Bower
Posted on 2/8/2014 6:18:58 PM by SunkenCiv
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/3120836/posts


44 posted on 02/08/2014 3:20:58 PM PST by SunkenCiv (http://www.freerepublic.com/~mestamachine/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson

The mark of a non-scientist is to say something is beyond the realm of science. Indeed, no real scientist would ever say such a thing. Science is the quest for knowledge. Unfortunately, for many faith-based folks the quest for knowledge is a threat to their belief system. God can withstand inquiry. No reason for fear.


45 posted on 02/08/2014 3:43:14 PM PST by Benito Cereno
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson