A study sheds light on early humans' cultural evolution based on the 105,000-year-old artifacts found in a rock shelter on Ga-Mohana Hill, positioned at the edge of South Africa's Kalahari Desert.

The study, entitled "Innovative Homo sapiens behaviors 105,000 years ago in a wetter Kalahari," published on March 31 in the journal Nature, describes the archaeological evidence archaeologists found from the rock shelter, which suggests that early humans once colonized inland settings that undermines the theories linking the origins of Homo sapiens to the coast.

 Early Humans Collected Unusual Objects Shedding Light On Cultural Evolution
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Homo sapiens neanderthalensis-Jäger

Signs of Modern Humans Outside Africa Linked to Upper Palaeolithic

Nature's news release reported that archaeologists found evidence that modern humans outside of Africa are linked to the Upper Palaeolithic from 40,000 to 50,000 years ago.

That period is defined by its wide array of technological innovations, such as the earliest known art, cave paintings, and engravings. Also, the period is defined with its non-stone tools made of bone or horn, the earliest examples of jewelry, and major changes in lifestyle and resource acquisition.

These artifacts were considered evidence for 'human revolution,' a leap in cultural evolution associated with modern people.

However, this evidence is not found throughout Africa, even though anatomically modern people once lived there. The archaeological evidence is patchy as they come and go from a region and only reappear elsewhere after thousands of years.

Researchers in the past were reluctant to investigate new areas because it is easier to work somewhere else that has already yielded results than going somewhere and finding nothing.

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105,000-Year-Old Artifacts Sheds Light On Early Humans' Cultural Innovation

The new study showed that sites located away from usually studied regions in the past three decades revealed artifacts like ostrich eggshell beads, engraved shell containers, bone and stone tools shaped like spear tips, or possibly used as bows and arrows.

Study co-author Sechaba Maape of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa said that the crystals they discovered point towards the spiritual or cultural use of the rock shelter 105,000 years ago, UPI reported.

Maape added that the findings are remarkable given that the rock shelter continues to be a site to practice ritual activities even today.

By analyzing the signals produced by light exposure in the sedimentary quartz and feldspar grains, the researchers were able to estimate the crystals' age.

"Our analysis indicates that the crystals were not introduced into the deposits via natural processes, but were deliberately collected objects likely linked to spiritual beliefs and ritual," lead author and archaeologist Jayne Wilkins of Griffith University in Australia said.

Moreover, researchers used a powerful laboratory instrument at the University Innsbruck in Austria to image the grains and their geochemical signatures.

Wilkins said that their findings suggest that overly simplified models for the origins of Homo sapiens are no longer accepted as evidence showed that many regions in Africa are involved.

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