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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hunting Weapons of Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans in South Africa: Similarities and Differences

Hunting Weapons of Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans in South
Africa: Similarities and Differences
Paola Villa, Sylvain Soriano. Journal of Anthropological Research.
Albuquerque: Spring 2010. Vol. 66, Iss. 1; pg. 1
Abstract (Summary)
Recent research has shown that Neanderthals were not inferior hunters
and that their hunting weapons were similar to those used by broadly
contemporaneous early modern human populations of South Africa. The
oldest known spears are from the site of Schoningen, Germany (about
350-300 kya). However, the hunting equipment of Neanderthals was not
limited to simple wooden spears. In western Europe, lithic spear
points date as far back as Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6 (ca. 185-130
kya) and are documented from four sites. In South Africa, four Upper
Pleistocene Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites (from 75 to 38 kya) have
provided assemblages of unifacial and foliate points comparable in
shape and hafting position to the European ones. Both kinds of
assemblages indicate the use of hand-delivered spears. The backed
pieces of Howiesons Poort (65 to 59 kya) are a type of composite
weapon armature that has no equivalent in the Neanderthal hunting
equipment, at least until the Chatelperronian (35 kya). The smaller
pieces are suggested to have been used as transverse arrowheads. Based
on detailed technological, morphometric, and impact scar analyses of
backed pieces from Klasies River Main Site Cave 1A, Sibudu, and Rose
Cottage, we suggest instead that the backed pieces were an innovative
way of hafting spears but are not evidence of the invention of bows
and arrows. Stronger evidence for the use of bows and arrows seems to
occur only about 20,000 years later, in South Africa and in the Near
East. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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