45,000-year-old Jordan stone tools show earliest division of labour in humans

By: |
Washington | Published: June 15, 2015 9:12:27 AM

Thousands of stone tools unearthed from a cave in Jordan have revealed the first bosses emerged 45,000 years ago.

Thousands of stone tools unearthed from a cave in Jordan have revealed the first bosses emerged 45,000 years ago.

Anthropologists Liv Nilsson Stutz and Aaron Jonas Stutz from Emory University found thousands of stone tools from the early Upper Paleolithic, which revealed clues about how humans might have started organizing into more complex social groups by planning tasks and specializing in different technical skills.

The rich array of artifacts showed a mix of techniques for making points, blades, scrapers and cutting flakes. The theory that greater social division of labor was important at this prehistoric juncture was first put forward by anthropologists Steven Kuhn and Mary Stiner.

This pivotal time also marked the ebbing of Neanderthals as a last wave of anatomically modern humans spread out from Africa and into the Near East. This region, also known as the Levant, comprises the eastern Mediterranean at the crossroads of western Asia and northeast Africa. As the final surge of modern humans passed through the Levant, they would likely have encountered human populations that arrived earlier, and they might also have interbred with Neanderthals.

Toolmaking was a major activity of the group, as evidenced by their prolific output. The group of toolmakers at Mughr el-Hamamah, however, used different technologies to get different tools. They produced large quantities of blades for knives, and for hafting onto spears, using a prismatic blade technique that yields long, narrow points that are nearly identical.

As humans began to dominate the landscape, the researchers theorize, they reached a population density threshold for living in larger groups and gained access to a range of technologies.

That process may have helped tip the balance for the rise of modern human culture and the disappearance of the Neanderthals.

The study is published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Get live Stock Prices from BSE and NSE and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Switch to Hindi Edition