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Cutting-edge training developed the human brain 80,000 years ago

June 22, 2011

Advanced crafting of stone spearheads contributed to the development of new ways of human thinking and behaving in what is now South Africa, approximately 80 000 years ago, archaeologists at Lund University have found.

Their findings show that people at that time used advanced technology for the production of spearheads and that the complicated crafting process developed the working memory and social life of humans.

The technology led to increased social interaction within and across the generations. This happened because the crafting of stone spearheads took a long time to learn and required a lot of knowledge, both theoretical and practical. Producing a stone spearhead also required the ability to plan in several stages. This social learning contributed to the subsequent development of early modern humans’ cognitive ability to express symbolism and abstract thoughts through their material culture, for example in the form of decorated objects, the researchers suggest.

Ref.: Anders Högberg, Lars Larsson, Lithic technology and behavioural modernity: New results from the Still Bay site, Hollow Rock Shelter, Western Cape Province, South Africa, Journal of Human Evolution, 2011; [DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.02.006]

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