Stone Age Tools from Armenia Challenge the African Theory of Human Innovation

Stone Age Tools from Armenia Challenge the African TheoryA study published in 2014 discovered that innovative Stone Age tools had been developed by people inhabiting the Armenian Highlands, contrary to widely held views. It was previously considered that those tools had been developed in Africa to then spread to Eurasia with the expansion of the human population.

The study published in the “Science” journal provides the readers with the evidence that refined stone weapons and instruments were created in Armenia around 325,000 years ago. The age of the instruments is what challenges the African theory held by many archaeologists.

Thousands of stone artifacts found at the Nor Geghi site in Armenia were studied by experts. “The discovery of thousands of stone artifacts preserved at this unique site provides a major new insight into how Stone Age tools developed during a period of profound human behavioral and biological change,” said researcher Simon Blockley from the Royal Holloway geography department of the University of London.

The study was focused on a technology called Levallois, where stone flakes were used to make items, such as pointed hunting weapons. This technology was an improvement of a more primitive stone shaping type known as biface.

“Our findings challenge the theory held by many archaeologists that Levallois technology was invented in Africa and spread to Eurasia as the human population expanded. Due to our ability to accurately date the site in Armenia, we now have the first clear evidence that this significant development in human innovation occurred independently within different populations.”

Along with researcher Alison MacLeod and an international expert team from across the United States and Europe, Blockley analyzed volcanic material from the archaeological site in the Nor Geghi village, Kotayk Province, Armenia.

The people who lived there 325,000 years ago were much more innovative than previously thought, using a combination of two different technologies to make tools that were extremely important for the mobile hunter-gatherers of the time.”

The researchers consider the Levallois technology a more innovative method of crafting tools because the flakes produced during the stone shaping were not treated as waste but were rather made in predetermined shape and size and then used in the creation of small and easy to carry items. With the primitive biface technology, pieces of stone were shaped through the removal of flakes from two surfaces, which produced bigger tools like hand axes.

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