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28 June 2011
Spearhead crafting allowed human brain to develop new abilities

Archaeologists at Lund University (Sweden) believe that the advanced crafting of stone spearheads contributed to the development of new ways of human thinking and behaving, leading to the human brain developing new abilities.
     200,000 years ago, small groups of people wandered across Africa - looking like modern humans, but not thinking the way we do. For about 100,000 years, there were people who looked like us, but who acted on the basis of cognitive structures in which we would only partially recognise and which we do not define as modern behaviour. It is precisely that period of transformation that the researchers have studied.
     New findings on the early modern humans from approximately 80,000 years ago in Hollow Rock Shelter - 250km north of Cape Town, South Africa - show that people used advanced technology for the production of spearheads, and suggest that the complicated process developed the working memory and social life of humans.
     The crafting of stone spearheads took a long time to learn, requiring a lot of knowledge, and the ability to plan in several stages, contributing to the subsequent development of early modern humans' cognitive ability to express symbolism and abstract thoughts through their material culture - for example in the form of decorated objects.

Edited from Lund University PR (20 June 2011)

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