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The shocker: if the analysis is correct, the transition occurred more than 200,000 years earlier than expected based on previous evidence.
Tool-making styles, or technologies, are important in the study of human evolution and migration for a couple reasons.
It’s found in much of Africa and Eurasia, but there is some debate over whether the technology was spread by a single tool-tastic culture as it migrated or sprung up independently in multiple places among different populations.
While it appears in the archaeological record at different times in different places — and is associated with more than one member of the genus — Levallois technology is associated most closely with the Middle Paleolithic, which was, more or less, 50,000-325,000 years ago (that’s a generous “more or less,” not only because there is considerable variation between locations, but also because researchers disagree on what constitutes start and end dates).
“We really don’t have much of a fossil record to go on at all in South Asia,” says James Blinkhorn, an archaeologist at the University of Liverpool and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany.
Blinkhorn, who was not involved in the new study, focuses on both Paleolithic archaeology in general and the prehistory of South Asia in particular.
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The authors are suggesting that a Middle Paleolithic culture turns up in what’s now southeastern India at roughly, or even before, signs of it in Europe and Africa.
A new study on stone tools from a site in India offers the latest challenge to the model of human evolution and migration that has dominated paleoanthropology, particularly in the West, for decades.
The artifacts, which the researchers say were produced with a sophisticated style of tool-making, are hundreds of thousands of years older than might be expected. Well, At the archaeological site of Attirampakkam in southeastern India, near Chennai, researchers have collected more than 7,000 artifacts, many of them stone tools that appear to show a transition from an early style of tool-making to one that’s more sophisticated.
That pre-shaped portion is then struck off the core, fully formed.
Levallois style tool-making allows for greater precision and sharper edges.