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The 105,000-year-old Kalahari crystal challenge cultural evolution story



New research conducted on a rock shelter on the edge of the Kalahari Desert in South Africa challenges the hypothesis that modern human origins and complex behaviors are limited to coastal environments.A collection of unusual artifacts over 100,000 years old, indicating the inland areas Homo sapiens As innovative as their coastal cousin.

It is generally believed that the origin of modern humans and modern human cognition can be located in southern Africa.Since many archaeological sites related to early human activities are located on the coast, experts believe Homo sapiens Their technique and symbolic behavior have also been developed in the area.But the journal published a new study natural Paint a completely different picture.

A stone tool unearthed from Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter.  (Photo credit: Jayne Wilkins)

A stone tool unearthed at Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter. (Photo credit: Jayne Wilkins)

The oldest modern human proof in the Kalahari Desert

An international team of scientists explored the Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter, which overlooks the prairies of the Kalahari Desert and more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) inland. The lead author of the study, Dr. Jayne Wilkins of Griffith University’s Australian Centre for Human Evolution Studies, explained the importance of this discovery in a press release from the University of Innsbruck and said:

“We discovered from this shocking discovery that oversimplified models of the origin of our species are no longer accepted. There is evidence that many regions on the African continent are involved, and the Kalahari is just one of them. […] In southern Africa, there are almost no well-preserved archaeological sites with data, which can tell us that Homo sapiens originated off the coast.One As solid as a rock The Ga-Mohana Mountain, located on the vast grasslands of the Kalahari Desert, is such a site. ”

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According to the press release, the work of the scientists also provided “the oldest evidence for modern humans in the Kalahari Desert in Africa.”

In the archaeological excavation of Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter, early evidence of complex Homo sapiens behavior was discovered.  (Photo credit: Jayne Wilkins)

Archaeological excavations at Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter, early discovery of evidence of complex conditions Homo sapiens The behavior has been restored. (Photo credit: Jayne Wilkins)

Look at the “mini clock”

The analysis of the site and the cultural relics found in the rock shelter provided evidence of the behavioral pattern of the rock Homo sapiens The location is similar to what happened along the coast 100,000 years ago. The main evidence comes from the collection of calcite crystals and ostrich eggshell fragments, which researchers believe may have been used as water storage containers.

Using light-stimulated luminescence (OSL), the research team determined the ages of the different archaeological layers where these artifacts were discovered, and set the age of these objects as 105,000 years. Michael Meyer, the head of the OSL laboratory at the Institute of Geology of the University of Innsbruck and the geologist in charge of OSL analysis, explained the technology:

“This method uses the natural light signal accumulated in the deposited quartz and feldspar grains over time. You must treat each grain as a miniature clock. Under controlled laboratory conditions, we can read this Natural light or so-called luminous signals inform us about the age of the archaeological sediment layer. The shallower, the older the sediment.”

The researchers also pointed out that the climate in the Kalahari Desert used to be very humid-this is evident from the limestone (a type of limestone) found around the rock shed. These characteristic uranium-ages can provide an age of 110,000 to 100,000 years-the same time that ancient humans lived in the site.

The collection of Kalahari crystals-a symbol of a very old sacred palace?

At first, the 22 types of calcite crystals collected were a mystery, because unlike ostrich skins, the researchers did not see that they had any obvious utilitarian purpose. Then they thought it was a clue. Dr. Wilkins said: “Our analysis shows that the crystals were not introduced into the deposit through natural processes, but were intentionally collected objects that may be related to spiritual beliefs and rituals.”

Early crystals collected by Homo sapiens in southern Kalahari 105,000 years ago.  (Photo credit: Jayne Wilkins)

Early collected crystals Homo sapiens In the south of Kalahari 105,000 years ago (Photo credit: Jayne Wilkins)

The co-author of the study, Dr. Sechaba Maape from the University of Witwatersrand agreed, and said: “Considering that the site is still used for ritual activities today, this is very remarkable.” The archaeological team realized. , Ga-Mohana Hill still has spiritual importance to the local community, and they say they are trying to limit its impact on the local use of rock shelter sites. “There are no visible traces and cooperation with local communities is essential to the sustainability of the project,” Dr. Wilkins pointed out, which is also important. “Therefore, Ga-Mohana Hill can continue to provide information about its origin and evolution New insights. Homo sapiens of Kalahari.”

Archaeological site of a rock sanctuary in the Kalahari Desert, South Africa. More than 100,000 years ago, people used the so-called Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter for spiritual activities.  (Photo credit: Jayne Wilkins)

Archaeological site of a rock sanctuary in the Kalahari Desert, South Africa. More than 100,000 years ago, people used the so-called Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter for spiritual activities. (Photo credit: Jayne Wilkins)

Article titled “Innovation” Homo sapiens 105,000 years ago in the wet state of Kalahari”, published in the magazine natural.

Top image: Calcite crystals were excavated from a 105,000-year-old deposit in the Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter in the Kalahari Desert, South Africa. Source: Jayne Wilkins

Alicia McDermott


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