Archaeologists long underestimated early hominins
Hominins of the Lower Paleolithic are much more like modern humans than was previously thought. By 300,000 years ago, Homo heidelbergensis in Schöningen used highly sophisticated weapons and tools.
|View on the ongoing excavations at Schöningen in 2014 [Credit: Jordi Serangeli]|
The excavations in the open-cast coal mine in Schöningen running from 1994 until today show that we have long underestimated the cultural capacities of Homo heidelbergensis.
|Spear II and horse bones at the interface of the calcareous marl and the peat-like organic horizon. The photo was taken |
when the new finds were presented on November 1, 1995 [Credit: Nicholas J. Conard. Plan: Utz Böhner]
Since 2008 Professor Nicholas Conard and Dr. Jordi Serangeli of the University of Tübingen have led the excavations with a major international research team in close cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Office of Lower Saxony.
|Part of a skull with horn from a water buffalo (Bubalus murrensis) from Schöningen 12 II-1. |
The maximal width is approximately 87 cm [Credit: Jordi Serangeli]
This assemblage of wooden tools is unique in terms of its great age and diversity. Papers present the stone tools and many newly discovered bone tools from Schöningen that greatly expand our knowledge of the material culture of the Lower Paleolithic.
|Teeth of a young sabertooth cat (Homotherium latidens) [Credit: Volker Minkus]|
The many artifacts made from bone include a hammering tool made from the humerus of a sabertooth cat (Homotherium latidens). This find is the only one of its kind every recovered.
|Bone of an older and stronger sabertooth cat (Homotherium latidens),which was used as a hammering tool |
[Credit: Volker Minkus]
Researchers from Tübingen used innovative methods (Mikromorphologie, Fourier- Transformations-Infrarotspektrometer, organische Petrologie und Thermolumineszenz) to refute this claim.
|Schöningen 13 II-4, Spear Horizon. Concentration of mammal fauna with flint artifact (scaper) on top |
[Credit: Klaus Cornelius]
|Reconstruction of Homo heidelbergensis [Credit: WikiCommons]|
Source: University of Tübingen [January 29, 2016]