1.2 Million-Year-Old Workshop Reveals Early Humans Were Skilled Crafters Earlier Than Believed

In Melka Kunture, Ethiopia, researchers found 575 obsidian hand-axes that are 1.2 million years old and believed to have come from a dedicated workshop. The discovery means that hominins (early humans and ancestors) may have been skilled craftspeople capable of working with obsidian some 500,000 years earlier than scientists believed. A volcanic glass that is fragile and sharp, obsidian requires a certain level of skill to sculpt. The early humans who created the hand-axes not only deftly manipulated this material but they did so with the standardization necessary to create a production space. The team argues that “hominins were doing much more than simply reacting to environmental changes; they were taking advantage of new opportunities, and developing new techniques and new skills according to them.” Read more about the findings at Vice.

Image courtesy of Mussis, Mendez-Quintas et al