HomeLatest ArticlesResearch shows that woodworking techniques of 300,000 year old humans were more...

Research shows that woodworking techniques of 300,000 year old humans were more advanced

The most recent analysis of a double-pronged wooden throwing stick found three decades ago in Schrödinger, Germany, shows that it was scraped, seasoned and ground before being used to kill animals. Research suggests that the woodworking techniques of early humans were more advanced and sophisticated than previously understood.

The development of light weapons may have enabled group hunting of medium and small-sized animals. The use of throwing sticks as hunting aids may have involved the entire community, including children. A 300,000-year-old hunting weapon has shed new light on early humans as master woodworkers, according to a new study.

The research was led by Dr. Annemieke Milks from the Department of Archeology at the University of Reading. She said: “The discovery of wooden tools revolutionized our understanding of early human behaviour. Amazingly, these early humans demonstrated the ability to plan well in advance, a strong knowledge of the properties of wood and many sophisticated woodworking skills that we still use today.

Woodworking techniques
Portrait of Primeval Caveman Wearing Animal Skin and Fur Hunting with a Stone Tipped Spear in the Prehistoric Forest. Prehistoric Neanderthal Hunter Scavenging with Primitive Tools in the Jungle

She also said “These lightweight throwing poles may have been easier to launch than heavier spears, suggesting the potential for community-wide participation. Such tools may have been used by children when they were learning to throw and hunt.”

Co-author Dirk Leder said: “The people of Schöningen used a spruce branch to make this aerodynamic and ergonomic tool. The woodworking involved several steps including cutting and removing the bark, carving it into an aerodynamic shape, scraping off most of the surface, seasoning the wood to prevent cracking and warping, and sanding for easier handling.”

Woodworking techniques of 300,000 year old

The 77 cm long stick, discovered in 1994, is one of several different tools discovered at Schöningen, which include throwing spears, thrusting spears and a second throwing stick of similar size.

The double throwing stick  analyzed to an exceptionally high level of detail for this new study  was most likely used by early humans to hunt medium-sized game such as red deer and roe deer, and perhaps fast small prey including hares and birds that were otherwise difficult to catch.

Throwing poles would have been thrown rotationally – much like a boomerang – rather than overhead like a modern javelin, and may have allowed early humans to throw up to 30 meters. Although these weapons are light, the high velocities at which such weapons can be fired could have resulted in lethal high-energy impacts.

The smooth surface, carefully shaped points and handling shine suggest that this was a piece of personal kit with repeated use, rather than a hastily made tool that was carelessly discarded.

Principal investigator Thomas Terberger said: “The systematic analysis of the wooden finds from the Schöningen site funded by the German Research Foundation provides valuable new insights and more exciting information about these early wooden weapons can be expected soon.” The preserved stick is on display in the Forschungsmuseum in Schöningen.

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Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/07/230719145940.htm

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