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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oldest evidence of arrows found Options

Oldest evidence of arrows found
By Victoria Gill Science reporter, BBC News
Arrow heads (Image: M Lombard/Antiquity) The stone points are
approximately 64,000 years old


Researchers in South Africa have revealed the earliest direct evidence
of human-made arrows.


The scientists unearthed 64,000 year-old "stone points", which they
say were probably arrow heads.


Closer inspection of the ancient weapons revealed remnants of blood
and bone that provided clues about how they were used.


The team reports its findings in the journal Antiquity.


The arrow heads were excavated from layers of ancient sediment in
Sibudu Cave in South Africa. During the excavation, led by Professor
Lyn Wadley from the University of the Witwatersrand, the team dug
through layers deposited up to 100,000 years ago.


Marlize Lombard from the university based in Johannesburg led the
examination of the findings. She described her study as "stone age
forensics".


"We took the [points] directly from the site, in little [plastic]
baggies, to the lab," she told BBC News.


"Then I started the tedious work of analysing them [under the
microscope], looking at the distribution patterns of blood and bone
residues."


Because of the shape of these "little geometric pieces", Dr Lombard
was able to see exactly where they had been impacted and damaged. This
showed that they were very likely to have been the tips of projectiles
- rather than sharp points on the end of hand-held spears.
Micrographs of ancient stone arrow heads (Image: M Lombard/ Antiquity)
Closer inspection revealed remnants of blood (left) and bone fragments
(right)


The arrow heads also contained traces of glue - plant-based resin that
the scientists think was used to fasten them on to a wooden shaft.


"The presence of glue implies that people were able to produce
composite tools - tools where different elements produced from
different materials are glued together to make a single artefact,"
said Dr Lombard.


"This is an indicator of a cognitively demanding behaviour."


The discovery pushes back the development of "bow and arrow
technology" by at least 20,000 years.
Ancient engineering


Researchers are interested in early evidence of bows and arrows, as
this type of weapons engineering shows the cognitive abilities of
humans living at that time.
Sibudu Cave, South Africa (Image: Marlize Lombard) The arrows were
excavated from Sibudu Cave in South Africa


The researchers wrote in their paper: "Hunting with a bow and arrow
requires intricate multi-staged planning, material collection and tool
preparation and implies a range of innovative social and communication
skills."


Dr Lombard explained that her ultimate aim was to answer the "big
question": When did we start to think in the same way that we do now?


"We can now start being more and more confident that 60-70,000 years
ago, in Southern Africa, people were behaving, on a cognitive level,
very similarly to us," she told BBC News.
Map of South Africa indicating position of Sibudu Cave


Professor Chris Stringer from the Natural History Museum in London
said the work added to the view that modern humans in Africa 60,000
years ago had begun to hunt in a "new way".


Neanderthals and other early humans, he explained, were likely to have
been "ambush predators", who needed to get close to their prey in
order to dispatch them.


Professor Stringer said: "This work further extends the advanced
behaviours inferred for early modern people in Africa."


"But the long gaps in the subsequent record of bows and arrows may
mean that regular use of these weapons did not come until much later.


"Indeed, the concept of bows and arrows may even have had to be
reinvented many millennia [later]."

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Proof for Homer's Stories?

An 8th BC century palace which Greek archaeologists claim was the home
of Odysseus has been discovered in Ithaca, fuelling theories that the
hero of Homer's epic poem was real.

Odysseus – known to the ancient Romans as Ulysses – famously took 10
years to return home to Ithaca after the fall of Troy.


On his journey, he was twice shipwrecked and encountered a cyclops,
the spirit of his mother and tempting Sirens before returning to
Ithaca, where he found his wife, Penelope, under pressure to remarry
from a host of suitors who had invaded the royal palace.


With the help of his father, Laertes, and his son, Telemachus, he
slaughtered his rivals and re-established his rule.


But despite the fantastical details in the Greek epic, a team of
archaeologists has claimed the tale is anchored in truth - and that
they have discovered his home on the island of Ithaca, in the Ionian
sea off the north-west coast of Greece.


Nearly 3,000 years after Odysseus returned from his journey, the team
from the University of Ioannina said they found the remains of an
extensive three-storey building, with steps carved out of rock and
fragments of pottery. The complex also features and a well from the
8th century BC, roughly the period in which Odysseus is believed to
have been king of Ithaca.


The location "fits like a glove" with Homer's description of the view
from the fabled palace, the archaeologists claim.


The layout of the complex, where Professor Thanassis Papadopoulos and
his team have been digging for 16 years, is very similar to palaces
discovered at Mycenae, Pylos and other ancient sites.


The claim will be greeted with scepticism by the many scholars who
believe that Odysseus, along with other key characters from the
Homer's epic such as Hector and Achilles, were purely fictional.


"Whether this find has a connection with Ulysses or not is interesting
up to a certain point, but more important is the discovery of the
royal palace," said Adriano La Regina, an Italian archaeologist.


Further complicating the identification of the site is the doubt over
whether the ancient kingdom of Ithaca was located on its modern day
namesake, Ithaki.


A British researcher, Robert Bittlestone, has said Homer's
descriptions bear little resemblance to the island and that ancient
Ithaca was in fact located on the Paliki peninsula, on the island of
Cephalonia.


He believes that Paliki was once an island, separated from the rest of
Cephalonia by a marine channel that has since been filled in by rock
falls triggered by earthquakes.


Enlisting the help of geologists and ancient historians, he documented
the controversial theory in a 2005 book, Odysseus Unbound – The Search
for Homer's Ithaca.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Human skulls are 'oldest Americans'

Human skulls are 'oldest Americans'


The skull is said to be 13,000 years old

Tests on skulls found in Mexico suggest they are almost 13,000 years old - and shed fresh light on how humans colonised the Americas.
The human skulls are the oldest tested so far from the continent, and their shape is set to inflame further a controversy over native American burial rights.



Mexico appears to have been a crossroads for people spreading across the Americas

Dr Silvia Gonzalez, Liverpool John Moores University
The skulls were analysed by a scientist from John Moores University in Liverpool, UK, with help from teams in Oxford and Mexico itself.

They came from a collection of 27 skeletons of early humans kept at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

These were originally discovered more than 100 years ago in the area surrounding the city.

'Amazing' find

The latest radiocarbon dating techniques allow dating to be carried out on tiny quantities of bone, although the process is expensive.

Dr Silvia Gonzalez, who dated the skulls, said: "The museum knew that the remains were of significant historical value but they hadn't been scientifically dated.


Dr Silvia Gonzalez dated the skull

"I decided to analyse small bone samples from five skeletons using the latest carbon-dating techniques," she told BBC News Online.

"I think everybody was amazed at how old they were."

The earliest human remains tested prior to this had been dated at approximately 12,000 years ago.

Domestic tools dated at 14,500 years have been found in Chile - but with no associated human remains.

The latest dating is not only confirmation that humans were present in the Americas much earlier than 12,000 years ago, but also that they were not related to early native Americans.

Asian travellers

The two oldest skulls were "dolichocephalic" - that is, long and narrow-headed.

Other, more recent skulls were a different shape - short and broad, like those from native American remains.

This suggests that humans dispersed within Mexico in two distinct waves, and that a race of long and narrow-headed humans may have lived in North America prior to the American Indians.

Traditionally, American Indians were thought to have been the first to arrive on the continent, crossing from Asia on a land bridge.

Dr Gonzalez told BBC News Online: "We believe that the older race may have come from what is now Japan, via the Pacific islands and perhaps the California coast.

"Mexico appears to have been a crossroads for people spreading across the Americas.

"Our next project is to examine remains found in the Baha peninsula of California, and look at their DNA to see if they are related.

"But this discovery, although it is very significant, raises more questions than it solves."

Legal challenge

Scientific analysis of early skull finds in the US has often been halted by native American custom which assumes that any ancient remains involve their ancestors and must be handed over.

However, this evidence that another race may have pre-dated native Americans could strengthen legal challenges from researchers to force access to such remains.

Dr Gonzalez said: "My research could have implications for the ancient burial rights of North American Indians."

Dr Gonzalez has now been awarded a grant from the Mexican government and the UK's Natural Environment Research Council to continue her work for three years.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

The mysterious Irene Complex near Savannah

Seems to be the week for mysterious Indian settlements. Is there some
form of proof that the Maya traded this far North? I mean goods that
would suggest more than just hand to hand trading finally reaching
Georgia.

The mysterious Irene Complex near Savannah
July 21, 10:05 AM · Richard Thornton - Architecture & Design Examiner


Was it a fortified port, a religious shrine, a royal compound or all
of the above?


Look to the west from the edge of Downtown Savannah, GA and all you
will see along the Savannah River are huge derricks, massive cargo
ships and warehouses. A mysterious Native American complex on an
island adjacent to the Savannah River no longer exists. The site was
developed by the Georgia Ports Authority six decades ago.


Few, if any, of the tourists from around the world who visit Savannah
know much about its history prior to the arrival of English colonists
in 1732. The coast of Georgia and South Carolina was where Spain
focused its initial efforts to colonize North America in the
mid-1500s. Prior to that time, the coastal islands and estuaries near
Savannah were occupied by the Wahale People. The name means
“Southerners” in the Hitchiti-Creek Indian language. Probably, the
Wahale were from the Florida Peninsula originally. Having no “W” in
their alphabet, the Spanish wrote their name down as the Guale. They
appeared to the Spanish to be simple people, who lived in villages or
hamlets, and only built small burial mounds of sand and shells.


During the late 1500s virtually all of the Wahale became associated
with a chain of missions along the coast of what are now Georgia and
the southern tip of South Carolina. However, by 1732 the Wahale were
essentially extinct . . . wiped out by waves of European diseases, the
abuses of Spanish serfdom and finally repeated attacks by other Native
American groups from the interior. A few hundred fled to the vicinity
of Saint Augustine or among the Apalachee of the Florida Panhandle,
when the Spanish abandoned the Georgia coast in 1684.


Muskogean* villages, ethnically related to the Wahale, moved from the
interior of the Coastal Plain to replace the Wahale after the
survivors moved away. These peoples were known by the British as the
Yamasee. The name means “offspring of Yama” in the Hitchiti-Creek
language. Yama was a trade language associated with the area around
Mobile, AL. However, in 1715 the Yamassee rebelled against the
British because of their continued practice of Native American
slaves. The Yamassee almost destroyed the South Carolina Colony until
the “new boys on the block,” the Cherokees attacked the Yamassee from
the rear and drove them down into Florida.


A regional center for something?


Around 1000 AD, some unidentified group began constructing a complex
of buildings 21 one miles inland from the sea on a triangular island
next to the Savannah River. It was a location that humans had camped
on for thousands of years while fishing and hunting. Until roughly at
this island, the Savannah River runs fast and clear. Tidal flows slow
its movement beyond here. Of all the rivers in the Southeast, it drops
from the Southern Highlands along the shortest horizontal distance. On
one side of the island was the Savannah River, on another side a
creek, and the other a ravine created by centuries of rainwater. It
was a naturally fortified site for controlling river traffic. The
newcomers augmented the defensive nature of the site with timber
palisades. The settlers erected houses and the first stages of several
mounds. Their houses were similar to those being built about 150 miles
to the west on the Ocmulgee River.


Although the Georgia coast in recent decades has never been directly
hit by a major hurricane, the location of the Irene Complex would be a
relatively safe haven for coastal trading canoes or even sea-going
Maya merchant sailboats. Savannah was intentionally planted 16 miles
inland in order to put distance between the city and hurricane tidal
surges. The site also adjoins a major trade path that paralleled the
river all the way from the mountains to the see.


The architecture and plan of the complex at Irene continued to evolve
through the centuries. While the houses were similar to those at
Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, GA the public architecture,
though, became something very different than was found in most of
North America at that time.


(1) The largest mound is an elongated form that is semi-circular on
one end and rectangular on the other. The rectangular end is served
by three ramps.


(2) An unusual type of pentagonal earthwork extended southward from
the main mound. This type of pentagon is also found at Zoque (Olmec)
cities in Mexico.


(3) There appears to have been a cone-shaped chokopa inside the apex
of the pentagon. In Mexico these types of buildings were folk temples
for the god, Quetzalcoatl, but among the ancestors of the Creek
Indians evolved to being community centers. Chokopa is the Chontal
Maya word for “warm place.”


(4) There was a dome shaped minor mound constructed of shells to the
west of the main mound. .


(5) To the south of the shell mound was a temple surrounded by a
shell ring.


(6) Between the shell dome and the shell ring was a paved walkway
that connected the large mound with a small plaza and a public
building.


(7) The public building at the end of the walkway was surrounded by a
timber palisade. Was this inner palisade a visual screen or a barrier
to protect the contents of the building? The building within a
palisade has the appearance of a prison, but the timber palisade may
have been meant to be a psychological barrier from the outside
world . . . much like the walls around medieval monasteries.


(8) Houses of substantial size were constructed around the west and
north periphery of the island.


(9) There was a fortified gate on the south apex of the triangle
where a narrow land bridge joined the mainland.


(10) An outer channel of the Savannah River provided the main
entrance to the complex.


(11) The inner harbor was probably where most canoes and boats landed
to unload cargo.


Alternative interpretations of the Irene Complex


Radiocarbon dating suggests that the Irene Complex was still occupied
during the 1500s when Spain was exploring and colonizing the South
Atlantic Coast. However, to date, no Spanish archive has been found
which definitely describes the complex. It was last occupied around
the year 1600, while Spain continued to maintain missions in the
region until 1684. Without eyewitness, written reports we can only
speculate what activities took place on the island. Alternative
interpretations include:


· A “royal” compound where the leaders of the province and
their retainers lived. The lack of large “capital” towns among the
Wahale, might be explained by them being subject to the authority of
whoever lived at the Irene Complex.


· A fortified port of entry where goods from the mountains and
piedmont were traded with goods from the coast and Florida. The large
building inside of an inner stockade, may have been a warehouse for
especially valuable goods.


· A regional religious shrine where priests and retainers
lived in a fortified environment to protect the site from raiders.


· A fortified port of entry that evolved into a major
religious shrine and regional capital.


Excavation of the site by WPA archaeologists & local women


The WPA hired famous archaeologist Joseph Caldwell, to supervise
excavation of the Irene Site in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Caldwell’s work crew was almost completely composed of African-
American women. These women did an outstanding job . . . especially
considering that prior to going to work for the WPA none had any
training in archaeology. The Irene Mounds Study is still considered
one of the most accurate and thorough archaeological projects of the
mid-20th century.


*Muskogean is a generic term (like Scandinavian) for peoples related
to the Historic Period Creek Indians of Georgia, South Carolina, North
Carolina, Alabama, and SE Tennessee

http://www.examiner.com/x-40598-Architecture--Design-Examiner~y2010m7d21-The-mysterious-Irene-Complex-near-Savannah
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Russell L. Ciochon and his team are in Indonesia investigating the geological source and age of one of the world's biggest caches of Homo erectus.

News: Q&A
Notes from an excavation


Russell L. Ciochon and his team are in Indonesia investigating the
geological source and age of one of the world's biggest caches of Homo
erectus.


Miriam Frankel
Russell L. CiochonRussell L. Ciochon, who heads the team at the
Ngandong site, with a gorilla skull.Tom Jorgensen


In the early 1930s, 14 Homo erectus fossils and 25,000 vertebrate
remains were unearthed near the muddy Solo River at Ngandong in Java,
Indonesia, by a research team from the Netherlands. Some 80 years
later, this remains one of the world's largest caches of this early
human. It could also be evidence of the species' swansong. A team has
now returned to Ngandong, armed with the original Dutch survey
documents, to answer some long-standing questions about the age of the
fossils and the ancient sediment that they were buried in. Nature
talked to Russell L. Ciochon, a palaeoanthropologist at the University
of Iowa in Iowa City, while his team was digging at Ngandong.


Why is this fieldwork so important?


H. erectus from Ngandong potentially lived in the last part of the Ice
Age at the same time that Homo sapiens inhabited other parts of the
Old World, and Homo floresiensis (the 'hobbit') was still living in
caves on the Indonesian island of Flores. This was a very intriguing
period in the saga of human evolution.


According to the Dutch team who discovered them, the H. erectus
specimens were deposited by the Solo River. The fact that the present
river is so near to the deposits that contained the H. erectus
specimens could indicate that the deposits and fossils are far younger
than the oldest known H. sapiens in Africa, which would mean that the
two species actually coexisted. But attempts to date Ngandong over the
past 30 years have proved inconclusive. This is partly because we
don't know enough about the Ngandong geology and can't be sure that
the dated samples from earlier excavations came from the discovery
bed. Our team is the first to focus on the geological context of the
fossils1. This was possible because geoarchaeologist Frank Huffman
from the University of Texas at Austin obtained the long-forgotten
survey documents from the 1930s2.
Ngandong siteIndonesian team leader Yahdi Zaim (left) and Rob Scott
excavate the bone bed.O. Frank Huffman


What have you found at the site?


During our expedition, we have recovered more than 800 fossils from a
bone bed — a geological deposit with a dense collection of bones. The
excavations have provided our geological team, which includes
University of Iowa geoarchaeologist Art Bettis, with details on the
site's sediments that shed new light on how the bone bed was created.
We believe that the detailed analysis of the site's geology and the
circumstances of burial of the bone bed will provide the crucial
information to evaluate the dating and other contentious issues
surrounding the remains.


We found no stone artefacts at the site, but these are rare at most
Javan H. erectus sites. It is one of the unique features of the Java
record that remains to be explained.


What can the fossils tell us about the daily lives of these late
members of H. erectus?


Although we don't have direct evidence, we believe that H. erectus
exploited the resources in the area, probably by hunting or
scavenging. Other clues about their lives can be found by looking at
the non-human fossils, and what they can tell us about the ecology at
the time. A member of our team, Robert Scott of Rutgers University in
New Jersey, specializes in such fossils and found that they are mostly
made up of large bovids — ancestors of the Javan banteng and water
buffalo — as well as deer, Stegodon (an extinct elephant), rhinoceros,
panther, crocodiles and turtles. The large percentage of bovids and
deer could indicate that H. erectus lived in an open woodland or
grassland environment.


Also, on the basis of estimates from partial skeletons of H. erectus
from other sites, we think that the Ngandong H. erectus was probably
between 1.66 and 1.85 metres tall — similar to the average human
height in the United States today.
Solo RiverThe Solo River, which runs near the Homo erectus site.O.
Frank Huffman


What can the Ngandong excavation site tell us about the evolution and
extinction of H. erectus?


The 14 H. erectus fossils are thought to represent a late stage in the
evolution of the species. As a group, they have a significantly larger
average brain size than that found in any other H. erectus fossils.
Palaeoanthropologists don't like to use terms such as 'advanced' to
distinguish one fossil group from another, but that term would
certainly apply to the Ngandong fossils. After arriving on Java about
1.6 million years ago3, H. erectus apparently lived in 'splendid
isolation' without competition from any other human species.


It is possible that when H. sapiens eventually reached Java, it could
have competed with H. erectus for scarce island resources, leading to
the extinction of the latter. But it is more likely that some unique
geological or climatic event resulted in the extinction of Javan H.
erectus, as is the case with most species. However, it does seem that
the Ngandong group is the best evidence we have for the last
occurrence of this species worldwide.


What has been the most exciting moment of the expedition so far?


The first high point came after several excavation pits were opened.
We found boundaries of the original excavations not seen since the
1930s. This revealed untouched bone beds fitting the parameters
originally described by the Dutch team. We are reliving the days of
the discovery made nearly 80 years ago, and meeting present-day
research objectives as we unearth the past.


What is a typical day at the site like?


We've been excavating for 24 days without a break. The days blur
together and we often lose track of time. There is a routine to
systematic palaeoanthropological excavation: opening an excavation
pit, digging down to the bone bed, carefully mapping the strata as we
proceed, exposing the fossils, assigning the fossil a number, charting
its xyz coordinates, removing the fossil, and then sampling the strata
for geological analysis and dating.


ADVERTISEMENT
natureconferences


How does the Javan H. erectus compare with those from other sites in
the world and where did it actually come from?


We spend a lot of time discussing this question. The earliest H.
erectus fossils date to about 1.8 million years ago — appearing nearly
simultaneously in both East Africa and at Dmanisi in the Republic of
Georgia. So H. erectus from Africa and Georgia represent critical
comparisons for any Javan H. erectus. It is thought that the species
evolved in Africa and spread out of the continent to the Republic of
Georgia and to Java over a very short timespan — perhaps less than
100,000 years. However, the most primitive and smallest H. erectus
fossils come from Dmanisi. Anatomically, Dmanisi H. erectus shares
features with both the African and Javan H. erectus, so it may
actually be the centre of origin for the species. If you compare
Ngandong H. erectus with those from elsewhere, it is clear that the
most derived population is from Ngandong.
source

http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2010/july/072810ciochon.html


University of Iowa News Release


July 28, 2010


Photo: Russ Ciochon (left), Frank Huffman, Yahdi Zaim and Art Bettis
stand in an excavation pit at Ngandong. Photo Credit: Maija E. Sipola.


UI anthropologist describes early human dig site in Nature News story


A University of Iowa anthropologist and his colleagues are featured in
the July 28 online edition of Nature News discussing their latest dig
to determine the geological source and precise age of the remains of
Homo erectus on the island of Java. Homo erectus is a distinct species
of early man that lived in Java between about 1.6 million and 50,000
years ago, or perhaps more recently.


Nature News is a publication of the journal Nature. A Q&A about the
dig can be found at http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100728/full/news.2010.377.html.


Russell L. Ciochon (sha-HAN), professor of the Department of
Anthropology in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and
Sciences, led the large-scale excavation for Homo erectus remains at
Ngandong, Java, for 24 days during July. The interdisciplinary U.S.
team included UI associate professor of geoscience Arthur Bettis, UI
anthropology graduate student Shelby Putt of Fort Wayne, Ind., UI
geoscience graduate student Maija Sipola of Babbitt, Minn., and
research faculty from the University of Texas and Rutgers University.


What they found at the site is expected to advance scientists'
understanding of the evolution and adaptations of early Asian humans.


Ciochon said the team recovered more than 800 fossils from a bone bed
and the excavations revealed details on sediments at the site telling
how the bone bed was created.


"The site's geology and the circumstances of burial of the bone bed
will provide crucial information to evaluate the dating and other
contentious issues surrounding the Ngandong human remains," he said.


Living approximately 50,000 years ago during the last portion of the
Ice Age, Homo erectus fossils at Ngandong represent a surviving relic
population on the island of Java. Other early humans in Asia that date
to this same time range are our own species, Homo sapiens (China and
Australia), and the 'hobbit' (Homo floresiensis), an island dwarf
survivor on the isolated island of Flores, east of Java.


The excavation site itself dates to the 1930s, when Homo erectus
fossils and 25,000 vertebrate remains were first found at Ngandong
along the shores of the Solo River in Java. Although it is one of the
largest sites of Homo erectus bones, the exact age of the fossils
remains in doubt, with the result that the fossils may or may not be
evidence of one of the last occurrences of the species.


Ciochon's team returned to the site some 80 years later, along with
the original Dutch survey documents to attempt to answer some of the
questions about the age of the fossils and their geological source.


Ciochon said that it was exciting to relive history by opening the
excavation pits and observing the boundaries of the original
excavations and the untouched bone beds -- sites not seen since the
1930s.


The dig was funded by a $35,000 grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation
for Anthropological Research, New York.
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Friday, August 6, 2010

Ancient bone find may change Filipino history Options

And that question about being able to navigate on open waters 67,000
ya arises again.

Ancient bone find may change Filipino history


By Cecil Morella (AFP) – 8 hours ago


MANILA — Archaeologists have found a foot bone that could prove the
Philippines was first settled by humans 67,000 years ago, thousands of
years earlier than previously thought, the National Museum said
Tuesday.


The bone, found in an extensive cave network, predates the 47,000-year-
old Tabon Man that is previously known as the first human to have
lived in the country, said Taj Vitales, a researcher with the museum's
archaeology section.


"This would make it the oldest human remains ever found in the
Philippines," Vitales told AFP.


Archaeologists from the University of the Philippines and the National
Museum dug up the third metatarsal bone of the right foot in 2007 in
the Callao caves near Penablanca, about 335 kilometres (210 miles)
north of Manila.


Their report on "Callao Man" was released in the latest edition of the
Journal of Human Evolution after tests in France established the
fossil's age, said professor Armand Mijares, the expedition leader.


"It broke the barriers," Mijares said, explaining that previous
evidence put the first human settlements in the Philippines and nearby
islands around Tabon Man.


"It pushed that back to nearly 70,000 years."


Cut marks on bones of deer and wild boar found around it suggest
Callao Man could have hunted and was skilled with tools, although no
cutting or other implements were found during the dig, according to
Mijares.


"This individual was small-bodied. It's difficult to say whether he
was male or female," he said.


Mijares stressed the finding that Callao Man belongs to Homo sapiens
was still only provisional. Some of the bone's features were similar
to Homo habilis and Homo floresiensis -- which are distinct species
from humans.


Existing evidence suggests that Homo sapiens, modern man, first
appeared in Africa about 200,000 years ago.


Homo habilis is considered a predecessor to Homo sapiens while Homo
floresiensis is thought to be a short, human-like species that once
existed on an Indonesian island in the Late Pleistocene stage.


To determine whether Callao Man was human, Mijares said his team
planned to secure permits to pursue further excavations in the Callao
caves and hopefully find other parts of the skeleton, tools, or
fossils of other potential humans.


Mijares said Callao Man also shared some features of today's Aetas, a
short, curly-haired and dark-skinned people who are thought to be
directly descended from the first inhabitants of the Philippines.


The discovery also suggests that raft or boat-building crafts would
have been around at that time.


"The hypothesis is that the Philippines, which is surrounded by bodies
of water, was first reached by humans aboard rafts," Vitales said.


But he said there was no consensus on whether the first settlers came
from mainland Asia, neighbouring Southeast Asian islands or elsewhere.


Archaeologists have been exploring the Callao caves system since the
1970s. "Generally caves are used as habitations and burial sites,"
Vitales said.


Tabon Man, the fossilised fragments of a skull and jawbone from three
individuals, was discovered along with stone flake tools by a National
Museum team in a cave on the western Philippine island of Palawan in
May 1962.
source
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