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Prehistoric Knives Suggest Humans Competed
Discovery ^ | 2-1-2005 | Jennifer Viegas

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.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: archaeology; britishisles; competed; dietandcuisine; doggerland; essexman; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; homoheidelbergensis; humans; knives; neandertal; neandertals; neanderthal; neanderthals; palaeoloxodon; prehistoric; suggest; unitedkingdom
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1 posted on 02/02/2005 10:06:38 AM PST by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping


2 posted on 02/02/2005 10:07:13 AM PST by blam
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To: blam
""At this time in Europe, Homo heidelbergensis was giving way, or evolving, into Neanderthals."


Wrong, wrong, wrong!!! Everyone knows that heidelbergensis evolved into Hilde beast!

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Best Regards

Sergio
3 posted on 02/02/2005 10:10:57 AM PST by Sergio (If a tree fell on a mime in the forest, would he make a sound?)
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To: blam

"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.


4 posted on 02/02/2005 10:14:45 AM PST by Lee Heggy (For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. H.L. Mencken)
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To: Sergio

the flakes died out.


5 posted on 02/02/2005 10:15:34 AM PST by patton (Matthew 6:6)
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To: blam
"In the future, they hope to determine exactly what happened to the flake-using losers."

As with the Neanderthal story a few weeks ago, the Brits will inevitably determine that the flake-users were Scots.

6 posted on 02/02/2005 10:16:29 AM PST by Gingersnap
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To: blam

"Two separate groups may have been in competition"
Well, duh!

"The flake users may have come from a different part of Europe..." Think France.


7 posted on 02/02/2005 10:17:25 AM PST by stan the beaver (We will kill the ones who eat us, and eat the ones we kill!!)
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To: Lee Heggy
The Scots always prefered using axes to deal with issues.

Unfortunately, their axes and swords didn't do much good when their opposition had artillery.

8 posted on 02/02/2005 10:29:06 AM PST by Question_Assumptions
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To: stan the beaver
400,000 years is an awfully long time.   Going back just 10,000 makes all of the (now called) British Isles just one continuous 'French' peninsula.   So going back 40 times as long could put this dig anywhere--- north pole? Caribian?.  
9 posted on 02/02/2005 10:29:42 AM PST by expat_panama
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To: blam

This Cornertang is from Williamson Co. Tx and was found on Berry Creek. It measures 5 1/8" and appears to be a Transluscent Georgetown flint. A stunning cornertang with a large and beautiful tang. Very RARE in this length and quality and won't last long at this price. Comes with a Rogers COA. $3400.00
Status: SOLD

10 posted on 02/02/2005 10:45:28 AM PST by Arrowhead1952 ("I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for," - Howard Dean 01/29/2005)
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; SunkenCiv; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 4ConservativeJustices; ...
Thanks Blam. Could have sworn there has been a previous topic, but I didn't find it on the GGG list.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

11 posted on 02/02/2005 10:16:46 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Ted "Kids, I Sunk the Honey" Kennedy is just a drunk who's never held a job (or had to).)
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Ah, here it is:
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...
 

12 posted on 02/02/2005 10:18:28 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Ted "Kids, I Sunk the Honey" Kennedy is just a drunk who's never held a job (or had to).)
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To: blam
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.

???????

I'm filing this one under "O" for "Obviously" and cross-referencing under "D" for "Duh!".

13 posted on 02/02/2005 10:19:33 PM PST by Psycho_Bunny (I know a great deal about the Middle East because Ive been raising Arabian horses" Patrick Swazey)
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To: expat_panama
"400,000 years is an awfully long time. Going back just 10,000 makes all of the (now called) British Isles just one continuous 'French' peninsula. So going back 40 times as long could put this dig anywhere--- north pole? Caribian?."

According to my calculations, the British Isles would have 'drifted' 12.5 miles in 400,000 years.

14 posted on 02/03/2005 7:04:33 AM PST by blam
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To: blam

Is there any doubt that people have always competed?


15 posted on 02/03/2005 7:12:28 AM PST by BenLurkin (Big government is still a big problem.)
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To: Question_Assumptions
A couple of interesting things about Culloden. The Brits used a different strategy on the field that day: when the Scot to the right of the Brit infantryman raised his right (sword) arm to fight the guy in front of him, the Brit infantryman to the side would stab him with his sword under the armpit and into the side of the chest.

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.

16 posted on 02/03/2005 7:29:36 AM PST by Pharmboy (The American Military: The World's Greatest Force for Freedom)
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To: Lee Heggy
Archelogists recently discovery a hardware store outside an American city. They found screws that had flat driving tangs at the back, others with little crosses. They concluded that religious differences led to the collapse of 21st century American civilization, the great religious war between the "phillips heads" and the "slotters".

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.

17 posted on 02/03/2005 7:43:58 AM PST by JasonC
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To: JasonC

Excellent point...and the (physical) anthropologists are often worse.


18 posted on 02/03/2005 8:32:00 AM PST by Pharmboy (The American Military: The World's Greatest Force for Freedom)
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To: Pharmboy
I live in New Jersey. Thanks for the info on Hugh Mercer. I only knew part of his story.
19 posted on 02/03/2005 11:22:28 AM PST by Question_Assumptions
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To: Arrowhead1952
If one is after the hide only, the ideal method would be to eviscerate the elephant along the soft underbelly from throat to tail, drain the carcass, stretch poles between the ribs to fracture them at the spine and wait for the scavengers to do their work.

Then the tribe could go back and use the flake blades to peel the hide and make a grand throw rug.

20 posted on 02/03/2005 11:47:01 AM PST by Old Professer (When the fear of dying no longer obtains no act is unimaginable.)
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