In Africa, discovered the oldest “workshop” for the manufacture of axes

(ORDO NEWS) — Anthropologists have unearthed the remains of a center for the mass production of obsidian axes, where ancient Homo craftsmen worked more than a million years ago.

The Paleolithic – the ancient Stone Age – was the longest era in the history of mankind. It began more than 2.5 million years ago and ended only about 15 thousand years ago, with the onset of the Mesolithic.

All this time, our ancestors slowly mastered natural materials – stones and wood, animal skin and bones – and occasionally created new, more efficient technologies for processing them.

As this work became more complicated, “workshops” arose in ancient human communities – places where experienced and skilled “professionals” mass-produced stone tools, providing them to everyone.

The remains of such centers of ancient production are found on the territory of Europe, the age of some is estimated up to 774 thousand years.

However, new work by anthropologists from Spain, France and Germany made it possible to find the first Paleolithic “workshop” in Africa, and it turned out to be the oldest known so far.

In Africa discovered the oldest workshop for the manufacture of axes 2
Remains of the ancient “workshop” in Melka-Kontur

Scientists conducted excavations in Ethiopia, in the valley of the Awash River, where the famous monument of the Paleolithic era Melka-Konture is located.

A total of 578 axes were found there – the oldest axes, still devoid of a handle. All of them are processed in a similar way, which indicates the transfer of “mastery” between all participants in the process.

Massi and her co-authors note that in this case, special attention was paid to the fine “finishing” of the details of the final product.

Dating showed that hand axes belong to an exceptionally distant time, about 1.2 million years ago.

This makes the “workshop” not only the first found in Africa, but also the oldest known. It is impossible even to say what kind of hominid it belongs to.

Curiously, most of the axes were made of obsidian, which is considered particularly difficult to process and requires a lot of effort to obtain a product that fits comfortably in the hand and does not cut the skin.

Therefore, obsidian began to be widely used much later than silicon.

Nevertheless, the craftsmen from Melk-Konture mastered it surprisingly early: only three samples found in this place are made of silicon, the rest are obsidian.


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