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Scientists make bamboo tools to test theory explaining East Asia's Stone Age tool scarcity
Date:4/8/2011

n Experimental View from South China," which will be published in an issue of the journal Quaternary International, edited by Parth Chauhan and Rajeev Parnaik.

"The importance of experimental archaeology, of replicating the production of bamboo tools with simple stone artifacts, was needed for a long time. Due to successful cooperation in every stage of the experiments with our Chinese colleagues, we managed to demonstrate the potential of a simple stone tool technology to produce many different daily tools made of bamboo," said archaeologist and lead author Ofer Bar-Yosef, professor of Stone Age archaeology at Harvard University.

In addition to Bar-Yosef and Eren, co-authors were archaeologists Jiarong Yuan and Yiyuan Li of Hunan Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics; and archaeologist David J. Cohen of Boston University.

Poor diversity of prehistoric stone tools in East Asia

As in Africa, previous fossil discoveries in East Asia have indicated that early human ancestors continuously inhabited those regions for as much as 1.6 million years. Unlike Africa and western Eurasia, however, where stone tools show increasing and decreasing complexity, East Asia's stone tools remain relatively simple.

Researchers know that simple flaked "cobble" industries existed in some parts of the vast East and Southeast Asia region, which includes present-day China, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, parts of Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, East Timor and Vietnam. Stone tool discoveries there have been limited to a few hand axes, cleavers and choppers flaked on one side, however, indicating a lack of more advanced stone tool-making processes, innovation and diversity found elsewhere, say the authors.

The lack of complex prehistoric stone tool technologies has remained a mystery. Some researchers have concluded that prehistoric people in East Asia must have instead crafted and used tools made
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Contact: Margaret Allen
mallen@smu.edu
214-768-7664
Southern Methodist University
Source:Eurekalert  

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