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Early humans used sophisticated wood crafting techniques to hunt and clean animal hides

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A new study, published in the journal PNAS, has identified how pre-Homo sapiens re-sharpened broken points of spears and throwing sticks, in addition to using specialist techniques such as “wood splitting”.

By applying the latest imaging techniques such as 3D microscopy and micro-CT scanning, archaeologists from the Lower Saxony State Office for Cultural Heritage (NLD), and the Universities of Reading and Göttingen, analysed 300,000-year-old hunting weapons found in Schöningen, Germany.

The Schöningen site is an open-cast lignite mine which was excavated between 1994 and 1999. Archaeologists suggest that the site was a hunting ground on a lakeshore during the palaeolithic period. The excavations took place under the management of Hartmut Thieme of the NLD.

Dr Dirk Leder, from NLD, said: “There is evidence of much more extensive and varied procedures of spruce and pine woodworking than previously thought. Selected roundwoods were worked into spears and throwing sticks and brought to the site, while broken tools were repaired and recycled on-site.”

According to the researchers, over twenty spears and throwing sticks were among the weapons and tools found during archaeological excavations at the Schöningen site. The wide range of woodworking techniques demonstrates the importance of wood as a raw material 300,000 years ago, a time when the planet was at the end of a warm interglacial period.

Dr Annemieke Milks, from the University of Reading, said: “What surprised us was the high number of point and shaft fragments coming from spears and throwing sticks that were previously unpublished. The way the wooden tools were so expertly manufactured was a revelation to us.”

Header Image Credit : Volker Minkus/MINKUSIMAGES, NLD

Sources : Dirk Leder et al. The wooden artifacts from Schöningen’s Spear Horizon and their place in human evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2024). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2320484121

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Study reveals new insights into life at “German Stonehenge”

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Excavations of the Ringheiligtum Pömmelte, nicknamed the “German Stonehenge”, has revealed new insights into domestic life from prehistory.

Ringheiligtum Pömmelte is a late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age henge from the late third millennium BC. The monument features seven concentric rings made of palisades, ditches, and raised banks, each containing a series of wooden posts.

The site was discovered in 1991 through aerial photography near the present-day village of Pömmelte in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.

From 2018 to 2022, archaeologists have excavated nearly 140 ancient dwellings dating from 2,800 BC to 2,200 BC. The older dwellings are linked to the Corded Ware and the Bell Beaker culture, while the more recent ones are associated with the Únětice Culture.

In a recent study conducted by the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) of Saxony-Anhalt, archaeologists are employing various scientific methods to offer new insights into the site’s ritual and settlement landscape.

The study has identified house locations of the Corded Ware culture (26th to 23rd century BC), and an associated settlement pit containing ceramic sherds, an axe head and flint blades. Until now, Corded Ware settlement could only be attributed to individual finds that had been relocated, and not to actual structures on the site.

Also associated with the Corded Ware culture is a storage area with 78 grain silo pits that held various types of gain, including wheat, barley, and spelt. Archaeologists already know that Corded Ware people lived on a balanced diet with animal products, further indicated by drinking vessels from burials at Ringheiligtum Pömmelte that contained traces of dairy products.

While the scientific analyses and the interpretation of the results with various specialists continue, excavations at Pömmelte will last until mid-July 2024.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

3,400-year-old shipwreck found with cargo mostly intact

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Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit have discovered a 3,400-year-old shipwreck with the cargo mostly intact.

The site was first identified during an underwater survey by Energean, an energy company searching for natural gas deposits beneath the Mediterranean Sea Floor.

This led to the discovery of the shipwreck and its cargo at a depth of 1.8 kilometers, along with its cargo that consists of Late Bronze Age Canaanite storage vessels.

IAA archaeologists, in collaboration with Energean, have used the deep sea exploratory vessel, “Energean Star” to conduct a visual inspection of the wreck site. This has revealed hundreds of ceramic vessels on the seabed, and a muddy layer which likely conceals a second layer and the wooden beams of the ship.

Jacob Sharvit, Head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Marine Unit, explains, “The ship seems to have sunk in crisis, either due to a storm or to an attempted piracy attack – a well-known occurrence in the Late Bronze Age. This is both the first and the oldest ship found in the Eastern Mediterranean deep sea, ninety kilometres from the nearest shore.”

Image Credit : IAA

Only two other ships from this period have been found – the boat from Cape Gelidonya and the Uluburun boat; both found off the Turkish coast. Both ships were found near the shore, suggesting that shipping routes followed the coastline between ports. However, this new discovery changes the understanding of ancient marine trade, demonstrating that ancient shipping also extended into deep waters.

“The ship is preserved at such a great depth that time has frozen since the moment of disaster – its body and contexts have not been disturbed by human hand (divers, fishermen, etc.); nor affected by waves and currents which do impact shipwrecks in shallower waters,” added Sharvit.

Header Image Credit : IAA

Sources : Israel Antiquities Authority

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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