Study may shed new light on dispersal of early modern humans

Popular Archeology | 1/2/2018 | Staff
melanie7 (Posted by) Level 3
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A recent study* of lithic artifacts recovered decades ago from the Mount Carmel (in Israel) Skhul Cave suggests, according to the study authors, that the occupation of the Levant by early modern humans during the Pleistocene was not as simple and straight-forward as the traditionally accepted paradigm has depicted.

Archaeological and fossil finds from caves in the Levant, particularly the Skhul and Qafzeh caves in northern Israel, have often been cited as evidence to support the popular theory that early modern humans left Africa in a single wave perhaps 100,000+ years ago and occupied locations in the Levant, only to be snuffed out due to environmental change and the lack of more advanced stone tool and weapon technology before their descendants could colonize further eastward into greater Southwest Asia and the Far East. It has been portrayed as a short-lived movement, with a more successful dispersal out of Africa occurring later, around 60 - 70,000 years ago, based on the interpretation of other finds and genetic evidence. Recent findings in other parts of Asia, including the China, however, have turned up evidence for early modern human occupation in those areas that challenge the dating of the latter dispersal model by thousands of years.

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Enter here a recent study of a collection of lithic artifacts from Skhul Cave, a total of 270 samples, currently housed at the Pitt River Museum (PRM), University of Oxford. In that study, Huw S. Groucutt of the University of Oxford and colleagues analyzed 56 stone cores, 85 Levallois flakes, 47 non-Levallois flakes, 81 retouched stone tools and 1 hammerstone, providing the first in-depth, complete examination and description of the assemblage using modern techniques of analysis. In the process, they also compared them to lithics excavated at other paleolithic sites and integrated their findings with the paleontological and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Popular Archeology
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