Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Friday, November 23, 2018

Levallois tools: did this technology originate in Asia?

Earlier this year, a paper (Kumar Akhilesh et al., Early Middle Palaeolithic culture in India around 385–172 ka reframes Out of Africa models, Nature volume 554, pages 97-101, 01 February 2018) reported finding Levallois stone tools in a site called Attirampakam, in India. These tools were about 385,000 years old, which put the date of this stone knapping technology further back in time than had been previously expected.

These Indian tools are even older than the Levallois tools found in Africa, and they predate the currently accepted date of Homo sapiens expansion out of Africa.

Modern Brains

The Levallois tools represent a shift in stone knapping know-how. Until then the Acheulian (developed by Homo erectus) technique had been in use for over 1.4 million years.

It was named after the site where they were first discovered in the 1800s: Levallois-Perret, a suburb of Paris, in France.

It is distinctive of a more brainier hominid, who developed a new technique for knapping stones to obtain sharp flint tools.

But who made them? until recently it had been suggested that they were the result of archaic Homo sapiens migrating out of Africa.

But with the Indian tools dated around 385 kya and some found in Armenia (D.S. Adler et al., Early Levallois technology and the Lower to Middle Paleolithic transition in the Southern Caucasus, Science 26 Sep 2014: Vol. 345, Issue 6204, pp. 1609-1613 DOI: 10.1126/science.1256484) aged 325 kya, this explanation seems unfounded: there were no H. sapiens at that time.

Adler writes: "Our data from Nor Geghi, Armenia... are consistent with the hypothesis that this transition occurred independently within geographically dispersed, technologically precocious hominin populations with a shared technological ancestry."

Suggesting a pre-Homo sapiens origin.

The oldest remains of Homo sapiens and Levallois tools are from a site in Morocco and they are much more recent than the Armenian and Indian tools: 315,000 years old. (Read more).

We know that the Neanderthal made them in Europe, could they be the authors of these Eurasian tools?

A paper published four days ago: Yue Hu et al.Late Middle Pleistocene Levallois stone-tool technology in southwest China, DO 10.1038/s41586-018-0710-1 ID Nature 19. Nov. 2018), reports finding Levallois tools in China:

"Here we present evidence of Levallois technology from the lithic assemblage of the Guanyindong Cave site in southwest China, dated to approximately 170,000-80,000 years ago. To our knowledge, this is the earliest evidence of Levallois technology in east Asia. Our findings thus challenge the existing model of the origin and spread of Levallois technologies in east Asia and its links toa Late Pleistocene dispersal of modern humans."

So once again who made them? This date is prior to any known H. sapiens presence in China. Were they Neanderthals? or perhaps Denisovans, who lived in Southern and Central Asia at that time?

Here we have a technological break-through that seems to have originated Out of Africa and not In Africa, our purported craddle of mankind. Did modern humans evolve outside of Africa?

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2018 by Austin Whittall © 

1 comment:

  1. As you expose, this knapping technology is distinctive of more brainier hominids... because its application necessarily implies that the knapper has a predeterminated conception on his mind about the desired final form of the flake….aspect which involves, at least, some degree of abstract thinking capabilities… and why not ?, a minimally elaborated language to teach/explain its procedures too.
    But, can we conclude that it was privative of our supposed “unique ancestors” from Africa???...I think that we can´t… Its appearance in so different regions and also in so different ages (these findings are a very good example of this), cannot always be explained only by continuity in culture and tradition due to human interrelations… in many cases, a hypothesis of an independent and convergent evolution seems to be the best explanation…
    With respect to your last paragraph; “Did modern human evolve outside of Africa?”
    I am sure you have, at least, part of the answer…because in your blog, you have exposed and developed original subjects, profusely backed up by lots of genetic considerations, lucid reinterpretations of archaeological findings, and very interesting speculations, in order to clearly explain relevant aspects such as; (please, correct me if I am wrong)…that what we know as Out of Africa (OOA), has always been supported on erroneous genetic presumptions…among them, a biased origin of Africa´s current high degree of genetic diversity, which (as you explain) actually could had been the result of a complex history of admixture with incoming species…
    So, you firmly suspect that this process (evolution/dispersal of AMH) could have occurred in a quite different way….and from my modest point of view, I totally agree with you
    But, and perhaps you can share my opinion… I think that Africa, anyway, has had its “own”(which does not mean “unique”) evolution towards modern human…Simply, this process, even having been so different as OOA was supposed to be, has also been locally convergent to H. sapiens. If we see it as a manifestation of some sort of “multiregional evolution”,… Omo I, Omo II and Herto, earliest widely accepted “true H. sapiens” up to now (and an adequate proof of the mentioned convergence)…should not be considered as our unique ancestors, but only as the local byproducts of Africa´s evolution, because under this tentative frame, obviously Africa could never had been the only region in which homo species began to evolve in such a way to acquire traits within H. sapiens parameters.
    With respect to this last, I think that besides some hints of nationalism and local politics on the interpretation of Chinese researchers papers (aspects which must be filtered),… it´s worth to be speculated that ”something relevant” could also have happened in East Asia, where there is suggestive evidence… two well studied transitional species; Jinniushan man and Dali man (whose data can be mainly taken from Peter Brown´s blog,, by themselves, could perfectly support (in my opinion) a not so reckless hypothesis of a local and direct evolution from H. erectus to H. sapiens since 300-200 ka ago… and therefore, another possible manifestation of evolutionary convergence towards modern human during Middle Stone Age times.


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