Connect with us

Conservation Africa News Magazine | African Wildlife & Conservation News

Conservation Africa News Magazine | African Wildlife & Conservation News

Conservation Africa News – Archery Could Date Back 48,000 Years in South Asia


Conservation Africa News

Conservation Africa News – Archery Could Date Back 48,000 Years in South Asia

Bone projectile points found at Fa-Hien Lena, and associated prey animals. Image: Langley et al., 2020Ancient bow-and-arrow technology dating back some 48,000 years has been discovered in a Sri Lankan cave, making it the oldest evidence of archery to be found in this part of the world.Ornamental beads, tools to fashion clothes, and projectile points…

Conservation Africa News – Archery Could Date Back 48,000 Years in South Asia

Conservation Africa News –

Conservation Africa News - Bone projectile points found at Fa-Hien Lena, and associated prey animals.

Bone projectile points found at Fa-Hien Lena, and associated prey animals.
Image: Langley et al., 2020

Ancient bow-and-arrow technology dating back some 48,000 years has been discovered in a Sri Lankan cave, making it the oldest evidence of archery to be found in this part of the world.

Ornamental beads, tools to fashion clothes, and projectile points for bows and arrows have been unearthed at Fa-Hien Lena, a cave in southwest Sri Lanka. At a maximum age of 48,000 years old, this evidence for bow and arrow technology is the oldest ever found in South Asia, and possibly across all of Eurasia. This research was published on Friday in Science Advances.

“This new archaeological evidence from Fa-Hien Lena cave in Sri Lanka provides an important reminder that modern human behavior has deep roots in areas far from our African homeland, at a comparable or perhaps even greater age than the better-known evidence from Europe,” Chris Stringer, an archaeologist from the Natural History Museum of London who wasn’t involved in the new study, told Gizmodo in an email.

It’s reasonably well established that early modern humans were living in South Asia during the Late Pleistocene, but archaeologists don’t always agree on the exact timing, and investigations into their material culture is sorely lacking. The reason for this, according to an associated press release put out by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH), is that the “origins of human innovation have traditionally been sought in the grasslands and coasts of Africa or the temperate environments of Europe.” As for the tropical rainforests of South Asia, not so much.

MPI-SHH archaeologist Patrick Roberts, a co-author of the new study, said in the release that “this traditional focus has meant that other parts of Africa, Asia, Australasia, and the Americas have often been side-lined in discussions of the origins of material culture, such as novel projectile hunting methods or cultural innovations associated with our species.”

G/O Media may get a commission

Conservation Africa News - Map of Sri Lanka with the site of Fa-Hien Lena shown alongside views of the cave.

Map of Sri Lanka with the site of Fa-Hien Lena shown alongside views of the cave.
Image: Wedage et al., 2019

Stefano Benazzi, a paleontologist at the University of Bologna who’s not affiliated with the new research, told Gizmodo in an email that the new paper is important because it shows how “the earliest modern humans in Southeast Asia adapted to different environments using diverse a toolkit.”

Working at Fa-Hien Lena, the archaeologists uncovered four distinct phases of occupation at the cave, dating from 48,000 years ago to 4,000 years ago. The bow and arrow projectile points were made from animal bone and assigned a maximum age of 48,000 years old. But a careful reading of the paper shows the stratigraphic layer in which they were found could be as young as 34,000 years old.

In total, the archaeologists uncovered 130 projectile points. Looking at them through a microscope, the scientists saw evidence of prior use in the form of fractures. The points also exhibited notches and wear patterns consistent with having been attached to thin shafts. They were too short and heavy to be used as blow gun darts, leading the team to conclude that the projectile points were associated with bow and arrow technology.

The Most Powerful Sale & Affiliate Platform Available!

There's no credit card required! No fees ever.

Create Your Free Account Now!

“The ecological setting is quite different from the open environments of African grasslands and the ice age plains of northern Europe,” Stringer told Gizmodo. “The Fa-Hien Lena finds suggest that bone points used as arrowheads were produced there, and used to hunt a range of elusive rainforest prey, such as squirrels and monkeys.”

Interestingly, the length of these points increased over time, which the authors contend is a sign that these hunters eventually transitioned to larger game, such as pigs and deer.

The cave also yielded 29 bone tools used to work animal skins and plant fibers, which these early humans used to fashion clothing or, possibly, nets and traps. Humans living in tropical rainforests don’t really require lots of clothing, but the authors suspect they may have worn it as “a layer of protection from insect-borne disease.”

Conservation Africa News - Various beads found at Fa-Hien Lena.

Various beads found at Fa-Hien Lena.
Image: Langley et al., 2020

In addition to these items, the researchers also found decorative beads made from mineral ochre and marine snail shells. These resources could not have been sourced locally, pointing to the presence of an early yet complex, trading network in the tropics.

“The Sri Lankan evidence shows that the invention of bows-and-arrows, clothing, and symbolic signaling [i.e. jewelry] occurred multiple times and in multiple different places, including within the tropical rainforests of Asia,” explained co-author Michael Petraglia of the MPI-SHH.

Archaeologist Israel Hershkovitz from Tel Aviv University, who wasn’t involved in the new research, said the new paper was “interesting,” but he took exception to the opening statement of the MPI-SHH press release, about how the origins of human innovation are typically sought in Africa or Europe. This is “totally incorrect,” he told Gizmodo, saying “many of the great innovations took place in Asia—writing, the wheel, domestication, urban society, monotheism, and so on—a fact that is ignored throughout the paper.”

As to whether or not the bone artifacts found at Fa-Hien Lena were actually arrowheads, that’s “open to interpretation,” said Hershkovitz. “I agree that people are creative everywhere.”

This doesn’t necessarily imply that “the invention of bows and arrows, clothing, symbolic signals, and so on, occurred multiple times and in multiple different places—Sri Lanka included,” Hershkovitz said. “The inhabitants of the island could have brought them from the outside.”

Benazzi was “quite disappointed” to see that the authors, “hopefully not on purpose,” failed to mention a paper he and his colleagues published in Nature last year about the earliest evidence of projectile technology outside of Africa. As this paper pointed out, bow and arrow technologies outside of Africa existed at least 45,000 years ago—an age close to the one claimed in the new paper. And given a possible minimal age of 34,000 years old, the finds at Fa-Hien Lena could be considerably younger than the European examples. Bow and arrow technologies first appeared in Africa some 64,000 years ago.

What’s more, the authors didn’t do any experimental archaeology, in which they would try to replicate the fractures seen in the bone samples, said Benazzi. Despite these criticisms, Benazzi said the authors “published a nice piece of work,” and “some of their final statements were not unexpected, as previous contributions already confirmed that mechanically delivered projectile technologies outside Africa dated back at least 45,000 years ago.”

This research certainly appears to be rough around the edges, but it’s clear that early modern humans were doing extraordinary things long ago in extreme tropical environments. That these technologies emerged spontaneously is a fascinating possibility, and yet another example of necessity being the mother of

Subscribe to the newsletter news

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top Stories

Wildlife Conservation Awareness – First Clone of Endangered Przewalski’s Horse Born in Conservation Effort to Save the Species
Importance of wildlife conservation – The intellectual vacuity of New Scientist’s evolution issue: 4. The supposed importance of genetic drift in evolution
Importance of wildlife conservation – How do giraffes and elephants alter the African Savanna landscape?
Benefits of wildlife conservation – Houston Botanic Garden Officially Opens, Showcasing Bayou City’s Biodiversity in New Living Museum for Plants
Importance of wildlife conservation in points – Superfrogs in the city: 150 year impact of urbanization and agriculture on the European Common Frog
Benefits of wildlife conservation – U.S. News & World Report Announces the 2021 Best Colleges Rankings
Benefits of wildlife conservation – New method adds and subtracts for sustainability’s true measure
Benefits of wildlife conservation – Wyndham Destinations Presenting Today at the J.P. Morgan Management Access Forum; Provides Operational Updates
Importance of wildlife conservation – Old males vital to elephant societies
Importance of wildlife conservation – Bindi Irwin shares pregnancy update, says baby is the size of a hummingbird
Wildlife Conservation Awareness – Scientists clone endangered horse from genetic material frozen 40 years ago
Benefits of wildlife conservation – Researchers find cardiovascular health similarities between chimpanzees, humans
Benefits of wildlife conservation – Inside Apple’s green revolution: can it make a carbon neutral iPhone?
Benefits of wildlife conservation – Report: U.S. Imports Trending Down 5% but China Recovers and Vietnam Climbs

Tags

Himalayan Goral - Spending an entire afternoon with Brown Gorals
Snowy Owl Rockstar - Most Unmistakable Owls

Conservation Africa News

Snowy Owl Rockstar – Most Unmistakable Owls

By October 14, 2020
Endangered Species - Common species mirror rare animals response to global change
Wildlife Conservation Jobs – Coronavirus: 300 self-isolating after outbreak linked to charity football match
Wildlife Conservation Jobs – Founder of ‘pro-Brexit’ think tank ‘buys EU passport via Malta’
Wildlife Conservation Jobs – Tony Abbott: Former Australian PM made senior UK trade adviser despite outcry
Wildlife Conservation Awareness – First Clone of Endangered Przewalski’s Horse Born in Conservation Effort to Save the Species
Endangered Animals – Congrats, humans: We’ve saved up to 48 species from extinction
Endangered Animals – Wildlife trade threats: The importance of genetic data in saving an endangered species
Importance of wildlife conservation – The intellectual vacuity of New Scientist’s evolution issue: 4. The supposed importance of genetic drift in evolution
Importance of wildlife conservation – How do giraffes and elephants alter the African Savanna landscape?
Wildlife Biologist – Rescue of stranded whales in Australia enters final days – Reuters
Conservation International Jobs – A bit rich: Business groups want urgent climate action after resisting it for 30 years
Conservation International Jobs – Henry Cavill Goes Running in a Lion Hat for the Durrell Challenge
Conservation International Jobs – It’s time for states that grew rich from oil, gas and coal to figure out what’s next
To Top