Skip to comments.Prehistoric Knives Suggest Humans Competed
Posted on 02/02/2005 10:06:38 AM PST by blam
Prehistoric Knives Suggest Humans Competed
By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Feb. 1, 2005 A recent excavation of 400,000-year-old stone tools in Britain suggests that two groups of early humans could have competed with each other for food and turf.
In the past, anthropologists have argued that only one group of ancient humans lived in Britain, and that these hominids created and used both axes and flake knives, which were made by flaking off small particles from a larger rock, or by breaking off a large flake that was then used as the tool.
Some form of prehistoric human had chopped up the beast with stone flake tools before consuming the elephant raw. Additional flake tools were found nearby, suggesting that the hunters had camped out in the area.
Butchering an elephant with a flake knife would be comparable to trying to cut into a juicy steak with a rock. If diners could use sleeker, sharper axes, why wouldn't they?
A number of experts think that the Stone Age flake knife users were distinct from the axe makers, which would indicate that two separate groups, and possibly even two separate hominid species, would have simultaneously coexisted in ancient Britain and been in competition for food and resources.
"The evidence is only tantalizing, but it is intriguing," said Chris Stringer, director of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project and a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum, London. "Certainly it suggests Britain may well have been multicultural 400,000 years ago."
Stringer added, "At this time in Europe, Homo heidelbergensis was giving way, or evolving, into Neanderthals. There are hints gleaned from comparing bits of their bones and tools that we have found in Britain and the continent that there may be separate species of this creature: one that made hand-axes and one that did not. This is one of the big questions of human evolution studies today and a major focus for our work."
Before the recent discoveries, clues to Britain's early inhabitants included a shinbone, a couple of teeth, pieces of a skull that probably belonged to one of our early, apish ancestors, and Stone Age flake knives and axes.
The axes demonstrate an early form of technology called Acheulean, which is characterized by two-sided tools with a handhold. These axes resemble almond-shaped rocks with a cutting surface on top, while some experts liken the flake tools to modern box knives. To the untrained eye, most flake tools resemble rocks with edges.
Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology magazine, agreed with Stringer, although Pitts said he thought that the flake knife users, called Clactonians, were not unsophisticated. They just may have had a different culture, similar to how some people today use chop sticks while others use forks.
"Faced with butchering an elephant, you'd get it done a lot more efficiently with hand axes, because they have longer and stronger cutting edges than flakes," Pitts told Discovery News.
Pitts continued, "When you're a good knapper, as these guys were, knocking up a hand axe takes little more time than a bunch of good flakes. You just need to be a bit more prepared, (with) better flint, and a good selection of knapping tools."
Nick Ashton, an archaeologist at the British Museum, thinks that the flake knife fanciers might have been foreign.
"I would now consider the possibility of a group of different people coming from a different part of Europe," Ashton said. "Not necessarily a different species, but a cultural interpretation is plausible."
All three experts, however, agree that two distinct groups, one that favored axes and another that favored flakes, may have coexisted in Stone Age Britain and likely were in competition with each other for food and land. In the future, they hope to determine exactly what happened to the flake-using losers.
"In the future, they hope to determine exactly what happened to the flake-using losers."
Um...Perhaps taking a knife or 'flake' to an axe fight might suggest something? The Scots always prefered using axes to deal with issues.
the flakes died out.
As with the Neanderthal story a few weeks ago, the Brits will inevitably determine that the flake-users were Scots.
"Two separate groups may have been in competition"
"The flake users may have come from a different part of Europe..." Think France.
Unfortunately, their axes and swords didn't do much good when their opposition had artillery.
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The Mysterious End Of Essex Man (UK)
Posted by blam
On News/Activism 01/23/2005 3:16:48 PM PST · 38 replies · 720+ views
The Guardian (UK) | 1-23-2005 | Robin McKie
The mysterious end of Essex man Archaeologists now believe two groups of early humans fought for dominance in ancient Britain - and the axe-wielders won Robin McKie, science editor Sunday January 23, 2005 The Observer Divisions in British culture may be deeper than we thought. Scientists have discovered startling evidence that suggests different species of early humans may have fought to settle within our shores almost half a million years ago. They have found that two different groups - one wielding hand-axes, the other using Stone Age Stanley knives to slash and kill - could have been rivals for control...
I'm filing this one under "O" for "Obviously" and cross-referencing under "D" for "Duh!".
According to my calculations, the British Isles would have 'drifted' 12.5 miles in 400,000 years.
Is there any doubt that people have always competed?
Also, one of the great heroes of the American Revolution, Gen. Hugh Mercer, was at Culloden, and because he was hunted after the battle, fled to America. He originally settled in Pennsylvania, met George Washington during the French and Indian war, became a friend of Washington's and died a hero during the battle of Princeton. Gen. Patton was a direct descendant of Hugh Mercer.
Mercer County in New Jersey is named after him.
These people are smoking too much of the wrong substances. The existence of two classes of tools does not remotely imply the existence of rival waring exclusive human societies. Those are indeed likely enough, on ordinary evidence from human history. Without any implication that each group only used one tool. The knives were probably for skinning and other such detail work, the heavier stones for hunting, wood chopping, etc.
The whole story is simply another example of archelogists replacing missing evidence with personal fantasies.
Excellent point...and the (physical) anthropologists are often worse.
Then the tribe could go back and use the flake blades to peel the hide and make a grand throw rug.
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