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23 January 2021
Earliest evidence for stone grinding tool

Stone gaming pieces have been found in the Tabun Caves at Mount Carmel National Park about 75 kilometres north of Tel Aviv. They are made from rocks using simple tools. The site has intermittently been home to people from 500,000 to 40,000 years ago and declared by UNESCO as having "universal value" showing stages of human evolution.
     The discovery shows that 350,000 years ago, our ancestors played games using rocks that were heated and used as different pieces - much like today where different shaped pieces of a game hold different values.
     Until 2017 it was thought that Homo sapiens were only 160,000 years old. The discovery in Tabun helps to confirm a discovery in Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, which suggested that our species is probably closer to 350,000 years old.
     The research conducted by the University of Haifa also proves that 350,000 years ago our ancestors used fire as part of their everyday life - itself an important discovery.
     Dr Ron Shimelmitz, of Haifa University's Archaeology Department, says that until now it was thought that Homo sapiens used techniques to make game pieces similar to modern humans only 150,000 years ago; "The period of time 200,000 to 400,000 years ago is a period of important technological innovations and significant changes," Shimelmitz adds.

Edited from The Jerusalem Post (27 December 2020)

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