Europe’s oldest bone tools found in Britain


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UCL Archaeological Institute

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One of the oldest biological devices in the world. A bone hammer used to make fine flint bifaces from boxgroves. The bone shows the scraping scars used to prepare the bone as well as has been left behind by its use in making flint tools

Archaeologists say they have discovered the earliest known bone tools in the European archaeological record.

The tools come from the famous Boxgrove site in West Sussex, which was excavated in the 1980s and 90s.

Bone tools came from a horse that humans had left on site for their flesh.

Stone flakes in piles around the animals suggest that at least eight individuals were making large flint knives for the job.

Researchers also found evidence that others present nearby – perhaps younger or older members of a community – shed light on the social structure of our ancient relatives.

There is nothing resembling a boxgrave elsewhere in Britain: during excavations, archaeologists uncovered hundreds of stone tools with animal bones dating back to 500,000 years.

They were made by species Homo heidelbergensis, A possible ancestor for modern humans and Neanderthals.

Researchers found a calf bone belonging to one of them – the oldest human bone known from Britain.

Project Lead from UCL’s Institute of Archeology, Drs. Matthew Pope said, “It was an exceptionally rare occasion when a site was left behind by a completely extinct population, when they were fully engaged in the process of transporting the carcass to a coastal marshland.” Dead horse on shore.

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UCL Archaeological Institute

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Horse butcher site is being excavated in 1990

“Incredibly, we are able to get as close as possible to witness the minute-by-minute movement and behavior of the same apparently tight-knit group of early humans: a community of people, young and old, A cooperative and highly social way of working together. ”

One and a half million years ago, the region was an inter-tidal marshland on what would have been the southern coastline of Britain. There was a rock that was starting to degrade, creating fine rocks for weaving – the process of making stone tools. Gad from the sea had also built here, creating a field of grassland.

“Grassland means vegetarian and vegetarian food,” Dr. The Pope explained.

Dr. Pope said that it is still unclear how the horse ended up in this scenario.

“Horses are highly sociable animals and it is reasonable to assume that it was part of a herd, either attracted to fresh water, or to seaweed or salt licking. For whatever reason, this horse – Separated from the herd – ends., “Dr. The pope told BBC News.

“It was probably hunted – although we have no evidence of it – and it sits right next to an intertidal creek. The tide was low enough so it is possible to move humans around it. But shortly after, A high tide arrives. The site begins to be covered in fine, powdery silt and mud. It is so low energy that everything is left as it was when the hominins moved away from the site. ”

The horse provided more than just food. Dr. from the University College London (UCL) Institute of Archeology, and the Natural History Museum of London. Sylvia Bello, an analysis of bones by Simon Parfitt, found that many bones were used as retouching tools.

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UCL Archaeological Institute

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A pile of stone was produced when an early human made an ax to make a stone hand ax. The knee impression of the person can be seen in silt.

Simon Perfitt said: “These are some of the earliest non-stone tools found in the archaeological record of human development. They would have been necessary for the manufacture of the fine flint knives found in the wider Boxgrove landscape.”

Dr. Bello said: “This discovery provides evidence that early human cultures understood the properties of various organic materials and how tools can be made to improve the production of other devices.”

She reported that “this provides further evidence that the early human population at Boxgrove was cognitively, socially and culturally sophisticated”.

Researchers believe that other members of the group – which may have as many as 30 to 40 people. They may include horse carcasses in butcher hunting.

This may explain how it was completely ripped off: Boxgrove humans also broke bones to obtain marrow and liquid oil.

Dr. The Pope stated that, by being an activity for a handful of people at a hunting party, butchering could have been a highly social event for these ancient humans.

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