Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Modern behavior of early humans found half-million years earlier than previously thought

Date:
December 23, 2009
Source:
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Summary:
Evidence of sophisticated, human behavior has been discovered by researchers as early as 750,000 years ago -- some half a million years earlier than has previously been estimated by archaeologists.

These are stone tools discovered at the Gesher Benot Ya'aqov archaeological site in Israel.
Credit: Photos by Gonen Sharon for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Evidence of sophisticated, human behavior has been discovered by Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers as early as 750,000 years ago -- some half a million years earlier than has previously been estimated by archaeologists.

The discovery was made in the course of excavations at the prehistoric Gesher Benot Ya'aqov site, located along the Dead Sea rift in the southern Hula Valley of northern Israel, by a team from the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology. Analysis of the spatial distribution of the findings there reveals a pattern of specific areas in which various activities were carried out. This kind of designation indicates a formalized conceptualization of living space, requiring social organization and communication between group members. Such organizational skills are thought to be unique to modern humans.

Attempts until now to trace the origins of such behavior at various prehistoric sites in the world have concentrated on spatial analyses of Middle Paleolithic sites, where activity areas, particularly those associated with hearths, have been found dating back only to some 250,000 years ago.

The new Hebrew University study, a report on which was recently published in the journal Science, describes an Acheulian (an early stone tools culture) layer at Gesher Benot Ya'aqov that has been dated to about 750,000 years ago. The evidence found there consists of numerous stone tools, animal bones and a rich collection of botanical remains.

Analyses of the spatial distribution of all these finds revealed two activity areas in the layer: the first area is characterized by abundant evidence of flint tool manufacturing. A high density of fish remains in this area also suggests that the processing and consumption of many fish were carried out in this area -- one of the earliest evidences for fish consumption by prehistoric people anywhere.

In the second area, identified evidence indicates a greater variation of activities -- all of which took place in the vicinity of a hearth. The many wood pieces found in this area were used as fuel for the fire. Processing of basalt and limestone was spatially restricted to the hearth area, where activities indicate the use of large stone tools such as hand axes, chopping tools, scrapers, and awls. The presence of stone hammers, and in particular of pitted anvils (used as nutting stones), suggest that nut processing was carried out near the hearth and may have involved the use of nut roasting. In addition, fish and crabs were probably consumed near the hearth.

The Gesher Benot Ya'aqov excavations were carried out under the direction of Prof., Naama Goren-Inbar. The research collaborators are Dr. Ella Werker, Dr. Nira Alperson-Afil, Dr. Gonen Sharon, Dr. Rivka Rabinovich, Dr. Shosh Ashkenazi, Dr. Irit Zohar and Rebecca Biton of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology. Prof. Mordechai Kislev and Dr. Yoel Melamed of Bar Ilan University, Dr. Gideon Hartman of the Max Planck Institute and Prof. Craig Feibel of Rutgers University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. N. Alperson-Afil, G. Sharon, M. Kislev, Y. Melamed, I. Zohar, S. Ashkenazi, R. Rabinovich, R. Biton, E. Werker, G. Hartman, C. Feibel, N. Goren-Inbar. Spatial Organization of Hominin Activities at Gesher Benot Ya'aqov, Israel. Science, 2009; 326 (5960): 1677 DOI: 10.1126/science.1180695

Cite This Page:

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "Modern behavior of early humans found half-million years earlier than previously thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105051.htm>.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (2009, December 23). Modern behavior of early humans found half-million years earlier than previously thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105051.htm
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "Modern behavior of early humans found half-million years earlier than previously thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222105051.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Newsy (July 25, 2014) Unverified footage posted to YouTube purportedly shows ISIS militants destroying a shrine widely believed to be the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

AFP (July 25, 2014) Visitors will be able to look down from a glass walkway on the grave of King Richard III when a new centre opens in the English cathedral city of Leicester, where the infamous hunchback was found under a car park in 2012. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins