British history’s first hand axes were not made by Homo sapiens

hand axes
Photo: Iflscience
Homo Sapiens, proof of prosperous settlements in Britain earlier than anticipated is provided by flint axes going back to 600,000 years ago.

Although we’re not talking about our species, Homo Sapiens, tangible proof of prosperous settlements in southern Britain earlier than anticipated is provided by flint axes going back to roughly 600,000 years ago. Instead, Homo heidelbergensis, an extinct ancestor of Neanderthals renowned for his thick brow and cunning talents, is thought to have created these bone scraping implements.

A group of archaeologists from the Universities of Cambridge, Kent, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology recently analyzed the artifacts, according to a research published this week in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Infrared-radiofluorescence (IR-RF) dating, a contemporary method, has finally determined the age of the objects, which were first uncovered in Canterbury’s suburbs in the 1920s by local workmen. By determining when specific minerals at the location were last exposed to sunlight, this amazing approach may determine when the artefacts were most likely buried.

This demonstrated that the tools were made between 560,000 and 620,000 years ago, more than 300,000 years before the evolution of our species, Homo sapiens. Additionally, Britain was still connected to continental Europe during this period.

The extinct human ancestors are believed to have first set foot in Britain about 840,000 to 950,000 years ago, but  these early visits were temporary. This latest discovery is H. It supports the assumption that  heidelbergensis  settled in Britain during the glacial period, probably between 560,000 and 620,000 years ago.

For context, the ancestors of modern-day H. Sapien populations outdoor Africa did now no longer depart that continent till approximately 60,000 years ago. Some waves of migrations of H. Sapien have been tried earlier than then, however they didn`t seem to completely take root. Meanwhile, different species of early humans, together with H. heidelbergensis, had reached the a ways corners of Eurasia masses of lots of years prior.

H. heidelbergensis are a bit like the stereotypical vision of a caveman, although they are a totally different species to us. With their prominent brows, larger braincases, and wider bodies, they were well suited to conserving heat and surviving in chillier environments.

They were also skilled craftsmen and tool users so that they could collect from new discoveries. Among the first discoveries were many hand axes, some of the earliest hand axes ever discovered in Europe. Among the new discoveries here are the “scrapers” used to treat carcass skins, furs and flesh.

Little is known about the early expansion into the UK, but this wealth of tools certainly seems to indicate that they were very comfortable in the UK.

“Scrapers, during the Palaeolithic, are often associated with animal hide preparation. Finding these artifacts may therefore suggest that people during this time were preparing animal hides, possibly for clothing or shelters,” Dr Tomos Proffitt, study author from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, said in a statement.  

“The range of stone tools, not only from the original finds, but also from our new smaller excavations suggest that hominins living in what was to become Britain, were thriving and not just surviving.” 


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