crystals found in the Kalahari Desert Challenge assumptions about the origin of human culture in Africa | Smart News
The discovery of extremely ancient Stone Age tools and crystals in a rock shelter in the southern Kalahari Desert could change scientists’ understanding of early human culture in Africa.
The 105,000-year-old artefacts found at the interior site of Ga-Mohana Hill in South Africa reflect a cultural development comparable to human activity previously reported on the African coast during the same period, Scientific newsBruce Bower reports. Given that few sites of human cultural activity have been known for so long, it is not clear whether developments in different regions are related or have emerged independently.
“Our discoveries of this rock shelter show that models that are too simplified for the origins of our species are no longer acceptable”, Jayne wilkins, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Australia who led the new study, said in a declaration. “The evidence suggests that many parts of the African continent were involved, the Kalahari being just one.”
The new discoveries, reported in the newspaper Nature, include stone tools, bones with signs of butchery, and fragments of ostrich eggshell. Researchers believe that ancient people modified the shells to use them as water containers, as findings from later periods suggest.
The team also found a collection of 22 white calcite crystals. After ruling out geological explanations for the crystals’ presence in the cave, they concluded that humans must have brought them there, although they did not have an obvious use.
“Walking around with a crystal in your pocket is not going to help you eat or find water,” study co-author Benjamin collins, anthropologist at the University of Manitoba, recounts Globe and Mailis Ivan Semeniuk.
The team concluded that ancient people may have valued crystals for their beauty and for cultural or religious reasons.
“Crystals found across the planet and from several periods of time have previously been linked to the spiritual belief and ritual of humans,” Wilkins and co-author Secaba Maape, architect at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, write to The conversation. âThis includes southern Africa. “
The site of the discoveries, Ga-Mohana Hill, has spiritual significance to the modern peoples of the surrounding cities, and the finds suggest that it may have had somewhat similar uses in ancient times.
“The crystals indicate a spiritual or cultural use of the shelter 105,000 years ago,” Maape said in the statement. “It is remarkable given that the site continues to be used for ritualistic activities today.”
At the time the artifacts date, the area was much wetter than it is today, but probably even more difficult to live with than the coasts. Some researchers have already suggested that seafood and other resources available in coastal communities have led to the development of higher thinking and innovative behaviors, but the new study suggests that may not be the case. case.
âI think he demystifies the coast as a source of innovation. Genevieve Dewar, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto who is not involved in the research, tells the Globe and Mail. “It will not always be the case that people innovate [only] when life is good.
Wilkins and Maape write that, since the site continues to have ritualistic purposes, the team is careful not to leave any visible traces of their excavations, backfilling the area during seasons when they are not working there.
âFrom an archaeological perspective, we believe this approach will help ensure that Ga-Mohana Hill can continue to offer new and valuable information on the evolution of Homo sapiens in the Kalahari, âthey write.