Human history can be characterised perhaps by one skill above all else: the ability to make tools that vastly expand our technological abilities. In fact, for scientists tracing the fascinating, branching tree of human evolution, non-perishable stone tools provide a priceless window into the past.
The Acheulean is the name given to the longest-lasting tool-making tradition in history; Acheulean hand-axes and cleavers emerged around 1.5 million years ago in Africa, and persisted in Eurasia until just a few hundred thousand years ago, made by our ancestral and cousin species, like Homo erectus and, later, Neanderthals.
Scientists have been able to trace the evolution and migration of ancient hominins by mapping the occurrence of these crafted hand-axes around the world; now, new evidence suggests one of the Acheulean culture’s final strongholds was at the edges of the monsoonal region of modern-day India.
The new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports and led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Germany, re-examined ancient stone tools unearthed at a site called Singi Talav, in Rajasthan, and found that they were used by some of the last creators of Acheulean stone tools in the world, dating to around 177,000 years ago – just before the earliest expansions of Homo sapiens across Asia.