Giant Hand Axes and Ancient Fabric

PhysOrg.Com has several interesting archaeology related items. The first concerns giant hand axes found in Botswana in the dried bed of Lake Makgadikgadi:

Their research was prompted by the discovery of the first of what are believed to be the world’s largest stone tools on the bed of the lake. Although the first find was made in the 1990s, the discovery of four giant axes has not been scientifically reported until now. Four giant stone hand axes, measuring over 30 cm long and of uncertain age, were recovered from the lake basin.

Equally remarkable is that the dry lake floor where they were found is also littered with tens of thousands of other smaller stone-age tools and flakes, the researchers report.

Here is a picture:

The exact age of the hand axes is unknown, although a large number of Middle Stone Age artifacts have been found. The site has some interesting implications:

Many archaeologists believe that equivalent lakes in the North African Sahara desert played an important part in the ‘Out of Africa’ human expansion theory, as the ancestors of all modern humans would have chosen a wet route out of Africa. The new research is the first time that this giant Botswanan lake basin in southern Africa has been the focus of scientific research, and these findings could provide new evidence to support the theory about a hominid migration through and expansion from Africa.

The second concerns fiber material dated to 34,000 KYA:

The items created with these fibers increased early humans chances of survival and mobility in the harsh conditions of this hilly region. The flax fibers could have been used to sew hides together for clothing and shoes, to create the warmth necessary to endure cold weather. They might have also been used to make packs for carrying essentials, which would have increased and eased mobility, offering a great advantage to a hunter-gatherer society.

Some of the fibers were twisted, indicating they were used to make ropes or strings. Others had been dyed. Early humans used the plants in the area to color the fabric or threads made from the flax.

The research is being published in Science.

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