According to reports, new evidence has surfaced indicating that early humans used HEAT while making tools and employed. What this group did was place stones into hot embers before shaping them, which allowed their tools to be harder and sharper.
Researchers speculate that this ‘revolutionary’ technique may help explain why ONE particular group of people in Africa was so successful around 70,000 years ago.
While researchers speculated that tens of thousands of years ago, mankind was far more advanced than we previously believed, the study led by experts from the University of Bordeaux offers new details on how mankind developed technology during the stone age in order to produce ‘advanced’ tools in that period.
Researchers suggest that stones were rapidly heated in fires with temperatures above 450 ° C. Apparently, our ancestors created small stone tools and weapons and even placed short blades on handles. Some even had several blades on a handle, making it an ancestor of the Swiss Army knife.
The study was based on 70,000-year-old artifacts made from Slicrete. The tools were found at Klipdrift Shelter, a recently discovered Middle Stone Age site located on the southern Cape of South Africa.
The tools and weapons date back to the Howiesons Poort period, a time when Middle Stone Age people were believed to be ahead of their time, displaying cultural improvements –like the use of symbolism— and tools that were extremely advanced for the time.
Anne Deleganes, one of the researchers involved in the study used a new non-destructive method to analyze the heating technique used in the creation of the artifacts found in the shelter.
Writing in the study published in the journal Plos One, researchers said: “This means that less force is needed to detach a flake or blade after heat treatment, resulting in better control and precision during percussion.”
Experts concluded that people at that time were aware of the fact that by heating rock it becomes harder resulting in sharper blades and tools which could have been used for hunting.
Surprisingly, around 90 per cent of the items recovered and studied show signs of undergoing heat treatment, which is a tell-tale sign of just how popular the technique was 70,000 years ago.
Experts concluded that the artifacts underwent heating as they had smoother surfaces than artifacts that were not heat treated.
Researchers agree that this ‘revolutionary’ process may be the first direct evidence of the intentional use of fire in production.
Interestingly, in Europe and Asia people treated materials with heat some 20,000 years ago.
“It is only from c. 20 ka [20,000 years ago] that the heat treatment of stone developed in Asia and Europe,” the experts explained.
Experts concluded that ancient people were able to fashion intriguing tools and weapons out of hardened rock with the use of fire, developing a technology that was thousands of years ahead of their time.