Friday, August 14, 2009

Early toolmakers were 'engineers'

Early modern humans in South Africa were using "heat treatment" to improve their stone tools about 72,000 years ago, according to new research.

By Griet Scheldeman

This technique may bridge a gap between the use of fire to cook food 800,000 years ago and the production of ceramics 10,000 years ago.

Evidence for this innovation was found at Pinnacle Point, a Middle Stone Age site on the South African coast.

The researchers have published details in the journal Science.

"We found that as early as 165,000 years ago, but definitely 72,000 years ago, people are doing more than just using fires for cooking, heat, light or protection," lead researcher Kyle Brown, from Arizona State University, US, told BBC News.

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