Middle Palaeolithic tools found at Attirampakkam.
Middle Palaeolithic tools found at Attirampakkam.(Photo Courtesy: Sharma Centre for Heritage Education)  
  • 1. Out-of-Africa Dates Pushed Back?
  • 2. What Does The Study Say?
  • 3. The Implications for India
  • 4. What’s So Great About the Middle Paleolithic Age?
  • 5. Who Made These Tools?
  • 6. Mysteries Remain Unanswered
  • 7. Are Experts United?
Explained: How South Indian Stone Tools Challenge Out-of-Africa

The story of human evolution has been a convoluted tale for archaeologists to piece together – and it just got even more tangled.

The currently dominant ‘out-of-Africa’ theory posits that modern humans first originated in East Africa between 4,00,000 and 3,00,000 years ago. It is believed that these early humans replaced archaic humans, and then dispersed to Europe and Asia to become the human populations that we know today.

  • 1. Out-of-Africa Dates Pushed Back?

    Did this dispersal happen in a single wave or multiple waves? When did modern humans first reach the subcontinent from Africa?

    On 1 February, a study published in the journal Nature reported discovery of tools from the Middle Palaeolithic (2,00,000 to 40,000 years ago) at a prehistoric site, Attirampakkam near Chennai.

    Archaeologist Shanti Pappu and her team from Sharma Centre for Heritage Education analysed close to 7,200 artefacts from between 3,85,000 and 1,72,000 years ago, and found traces of an advanced tool-making culture existing in India – well before the 140,000-year mark – at which a wave of migration from Africa was thought to have brought these technologies to India.

    The artefacts suggest the possibility of ancient human species in India using similar techniques to those found in Africa prior to their migration out.

    This discovery of stone tools carved by early humans in India could, thus, rewrite the origins of modern humans in India.

    The treasure trove could also deepen the view on how early humans may have left Africa – much earlier than has been believed so far.

    Here’s everything you need to know about the findings of the research, its implications for India, and the rest of the world.


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