A TEAM OF PSYCHOLOGISTS, KINESIOLOGISTS AND ARCHAEOLOGISTS AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY AND ELSEWHERE ARE THROWING NEW LIGHT ON A LONGSTANDING ARCHAEOLOGICAL MYSTERY: THE PURPOSE OF A LARGE NUMBER OF SPHERICAL STONE ARTIFACTS FOUND AT A MAJOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE IN SOUTH AFRICA.
IU Bloomington professor Geoffrey Bingham and colleagues in the United Kingdom and United States contend that the stones — previously thought by some to be used as tools — served instead as weapons for defense and hunting.
The research, which combines knowledge about how modern humans perceive an object’s “throwing affordance” with mathematical analysis and evaluation of these stones as projectiles for throwing, appears in the journal Scientific Reports.
“Our study suggests that the throwing of stones played a key role in the evolution of hunting,” said Bingham, a professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and an author on the study. “We don’t think that throwing is the sole, or even primary, function of these spheroids, but these results show that this function is an option that warrants reconsidering as a potential use for this long-lived, multipurpose tool.”
The use of these stones, which date from between 1.8 million and 70,000 years ago, has puzzled archaeologists since they were unearthed at the Cave of Hearths in South Africa’s Makapan Valley nearly 30 years ago.
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