Last week, researchers writing in Science magazine reported that they had unearthed evidence that our ancient hominid ancestors had been making spearpoints about 500,000 years ago, 200,000 years earlier than previously established. Some news!
~500,000-year-old retouched point from Kathu Pan 1. The scale bar is 1 cm long. Image courtesy of Jayne Wilkins
The story about the Kathu Pan site in South Africa also involves "Fauresmith industries", a long-controversial stone technology wedged between middle and lower Paleolithic--so controversial that in 1965 it was "officially" abandoned as a term. Kathu Pan
is may be changing all that--it's the first well-documented evidence of the co-occurrence between handaxes and blade technology, all dated to 500,000 years ago, and a significant transition to complex modern human behaviors.
Wilkins J, Schoville BJ, Brown KS, and Chazan M. 2012. Evidence for early hafted hunting technology. Science 338:942-946.
Note: The context of the site--an open-air site around a geological spring--is a serious issue for Kathu Pan, and the continuing Fauresmith controversy cannot as yet be resolved. See comments below.