Questioning the spreading of Paleolithic technologies – University of Copenhagen

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29 September 2014

Questioning the spreading of Paleolithic technologies

The unique archaeological site of Nor Geghi 1, situated just north of Yerevan, Armenia, has provided important insights about the nature of human technological innovations during the Middle Paleolithic.

Artifacts from the 325,000-year-old site demonstrate that human populations utilized diverse types of stone tool technologies at one location, in contrast to earlier assumptions that single tools, like handaxes, mark distinct populations.

Questioning long held beliefs

In a recent Science publication on the site, the findings indicate that multiple populations invented similar stone tool technologies in different places and at different times, thereby questioning long-held beliefs that new technologies were invented once and then spread to other regions. One of the co-authors on the paper, Nathan Wales, is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for GeoGenetics. Nathan was part of the international team that discovered the site in 2008 and helped run excavations over several summers.

The discovery of Nor Geghi 1 (NG1) during the 2008 field season. Pictured left to right are Nathan Wales (UConn PhD, 2012) and Philip Glauberman (UConn PhD, 2014) inspecting artifacts protruding from the ancient floodplain sediments, with Basalt 1 above.