Arrow origins traced to Africa
Nicknamed Otzi, for his resting place in the Ötztal Alps, the "Iceman" was outfitted with a copper ax, flint knife and bearskin hat, a surprise to archaeologists because they all were so well-crafted. His bow and 12 arrows, two of them nicely feathered and tipped with flint points, were likely less surprising, because they nicely fit with the then-current story of the bow and arrow's origins.
"The invention of the bow and arrow used to be closely linked to the late Upper Paleolithic (Stone Age) in Europe," less than 30,000 years ago, says anthropologist Marlize Lombard of South Africa's University of Johannesburg, in a study in the current Journal of Archaeological Science.
Last year, however, Lombard and her colleagues reported in the journal Antiquity, that arrows were around at least 64,000 years ago, and were first discovered not in Europe, but in South Africa. A single quartz arrowhead, bloodstained, had turned up at the Sibudu Cave site, dating to that time. In the new Journalof Archaeological Science study, Lombard reports more arrowheads and more evidence pushing back the age of the bow and arrow.
Why does it matter? Well, modern-looking humans turn up in fossils from as long as 195,000 years ago in Africa, but only spread worldwide starting about 60,000 years ago. Anthropologists have debated for decades about the innovations or changes, everything from language to genes to tools, that turned modern man loose on the world....
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