The evolution of the genus Homo took place in Africa inbasically, that is, where people appeared, but there is very little information about this process to this day. In particular, science has a vague idea about the life of the first modern people. Therefore, a recent study, during which the oldest archaeological site in West Africa was discovered, was a serious contribution to understanding how our ancestors developed on this continent before starting to migrate to Europe. Dating has shown that the age of the settlement is about 150 thousand years. On its territory, archaeologists discovered stone tools, which turned out to be one of the oldest made by Homo sapiens. The findings suggest that people in West Africa have been using Middle Stone Age tools for about 140,000 years, much longer than other groups of people. This may indicate their isolation from other African populations.
The oldest human settlement in West Africa
A recent study by an international groupscientists were conducted at the site of Barnya 1. This site is located near the modern coastline, south of Dakar. The assemblage from Barnya 1 is not much different from other assemblages of similar age that have previously been discovered in other parts of Africa. However, Barny 1 is the first complex in West Africa dated to the Middle Pleistocene.
On the territory of this ancient settlement, scientistsdiscovered microfossils (small fossils of ancient plants) of mangroves and wetlands. The presence of these fossils suggests that the settlement was near the mouth of a river. Such habitats have always been important for people, which, in fact, has not changed to this day. However, during excavations, archaeologists did not find any artifacts indicating that people interacted with coastal resources.
Unique stone tools of ancient people
Modern humans appeared in Africa around 300thousand years ago, if, of course, to believe the African theory of the origin of people, which has recently been called into question. The first stone tools used by Homo sapiens are called Middle Stone Age tools. They continued to be used until 30-60 thousand years ago. However, in West Africa, people used Middle Stone Age tools for much longer - up to 10 thousand years ago. At the same time, science is poorly known when these technologies arose.
During excavations at Barny 1, scientists discoveredmany stone tools. All of them have the characteristic features of products of the Middle Stone Age, in the manufacture of which Levallois and discoidal methods of stone processing were used. Among them there are also many small tools in the form of flakes. The researchers report this in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. This suggests that people began to make tools of the Middle Stone Age at least 150 thousand years ago, since this is the age of the tools showed their dating.
Why did the people of West Africa not change theirtechnology for at least 140,000 years? Scholars have several theories on this. It is believed that the first people began to migrate to Europe 150 thousand years ago. In new territories, they had to adapt to a variety of habitat conditions, as well as adapt to regular climate changes that regularly occurred on the planet.
However, in West Africa for a long timeconditions were stable. Accordingly, the people who remained in this territory did not have to adapt. It is possible that for this reason their culture remained unchanged. The scientists called this stable behavioral adaptation to stable conditions. Also, as we said above, isolation from other groups of people in Africa could lead to a similar result.
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Finally, we recall that stone tools are peoplebegan to be produced long before the advent of Homo sapiens. Earlier, we reported on the discovery of an ancient tool-making workshop dating back 1.2 million years. However, there is no certainty that all stone tools were made by people. A recent study showed that even modern apes can produce some of these tools.