An international group of scientists studied the artifacts discovered in the 1960-ies on the East coast of Africa in the layer aged over 60 thousand years, and came to the conclusion that it is an ancient arrowhead, laced with poison.
A study published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews and a short author’s group talked about it on the portal Phys.org. Scientists have studied long, thin and pointed artifact found in the caves of the river Classis, which flows along the Eastern coast of South Africa.
We are talking about the product, which was extracted from the layer age more than 60 thousand years. The researchers note that even visually it is very similar to thousands of bone tips of arrows used by local hunters-gatherers of the San from the XVIII to the XX century.
This artifact was excavated in the 1960-ies, but until recently nobody knew about his importance. The fact that it is dated incorrectly. In the new study, the researchers used a combined approach that includes microscopic analysis of the surface of the bone, a CT scan with high resolution and non-destructive chemical analysis
As a result, were found traces of black organic matter distributed on the surface of the bone. This led scientists to the idea of poisoned arrows. Chemical analysis showed that this substance consisted of many organic ingredients.
Microscopic analysis showed that the artifact was attached to the arrow shaft, perhaps made of cane. Computed tomography revealed microscopic damage inside the artifact that arise from the arrowheads with their fast movements.
All this allowed the researchers to conclude that this artifact is an arrowhead, which before use were dipped in poison. This is a known technology, but the key is the question of the age of this arrow. She was the oldest – the first tip over 60 thousand years described by scientists.
The discovery also suggests that ancient people in southern Africa over 60 thousand years ago were able to combine different ingredients for the manufacture of glue and poison were making their products in complex ways, using several stages. That is, they were able to "think outside the box".
The emergence of hunting with the bow and arrows in recent years is considered the point of birth of complex society. The earliest similar evidence in Europe there are about 45 thousand years outside it and outside of Africa, 35 thousand years. Arrows that age, for example, was found on the island of Timor.
A new discovery indicates that in South Africa bone arrowheads have been used for about 20 thousand years earlier than in any other region of the planet. This confirms the generally accepted theory that the cradle of humanity is Africa.
"the Technology of archery gives hunters a unique advantage over prey – the researchers write – It allows you to hunt at a distance and ambush. This increases the chances of success and provides security when hunting predators or large animals such as Buffalo".
Bows and arrows consist of several parts, each of which has a specific function. But we know that it works only together, as a single complex. This proves that ancient people had high cognitive flexibility – the ability to switch from one thought to another, and also to think about several things at once.