Morocco team announces major Stone Age find


Share post:

Archaeologists in Morocco have announced the discovery of North Africa’s oldest Stone Age hand-axe manufacturing site, dating back 1.3 million years, an international team reported on Wednesday.

Morocco team announces major Stone Age find
The discovery of the oldest Acheulean in North Africa in Morocco took place at a quarry
on the outskirts of Casablanca [Credit: AFP]

The find pushes back by hundreds of thousands of years the start date in North Africa of the Acheulian stone tool industry associated with a key human ancestor, Homo erectus, researchers on the team told journalists in Rabat. It was made during excavations at a quarry on the outskirts of the country’s economic capital Casablanca.

This ‚Äúmajor discovery‚Ķ contributes to enriching the debate on the emergence of the Acheulian in Africa‚ÄĚ, said Abderrahim Mohib, co-director of the Franco-Moroccan Prehistory of Casablanca programme.

Before the find, the presence in Morocco of the Acheulian stone tool industry was thought to date back 700,000 years. New finds at the Thomas Quarry I site, first made famous in 1969 when a human half mandible was discovered in a cave, mean the Acheulian there is almost twice as old.

The 17-strong team behind the discovery comprised Moroccan, French and Italian researchers, and their finding is based on the study of stone tools extracted from the site.

Morocco team announces major Stone Age find
The excavation site at the Thomas Quarry I site outside Casablanca [Credit: D Lefevre]

Moroccan archaeologist Abdelouahed Ben Ncer called the news a ‚Äúchronological rebound‚ÄĚ. He said the beginning of the Acheulian in Morocco is now close to the South and East African start dates of 1.6 million and 1.8 million years ago respectively.

Earlier humans had made do with more primitive pebble tools, known as Oldowan after their East African type site.

Research at the Casablanca site has been carried out for decades, and has ‚Äúdelivered one of the richest Acheulian assemblages in Africa‚ÄĚ, Mohib said. ‚ÄúIt is very important because we are talking about prehistoric time, a complex period for which little data exists.‚ÄĚ

Mohib said the study also made it possible to attest to ‚Äúthe oldest presence in Morocco of humans‚ÄĚ who were ‚Äúvariants of Homo erectus‚Äú.

Morocco team announces major Stone Age find
Stone tools from the Thomas Quarry I site outside Casablanca [Credit: R Gallotti]

Prehistoric man‚Äôs ability to ‚Äúdesign the shape of the tool he wants‚ÄĚ, such as the latest find, was a ‚Äúvery important technological advance‚ÄĚ, he added.

In 2017, the discovery of five fossils at Jebel Irhoud in Morocco, estimated at 300,000 years old, overturned evolutionary science when they were designated Homo sapiens.

The Moroccan fossils were much older than some with similar facial characteristics excavated from Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, dating back around 195,000 years.

The Prehistory of Casablanca programme is the result of collaboration between the Moroccan Institute of Archaeology (INSAP), Paul-Valery Montpellier 3 University in Montpellier, France, and the French Foreign Ministry. French and Italian laboratories also took part in the project.

The Palaeolithic is the first and longest period of prehistory which began more than three million years ago and ended 12,000 years ago.

The discovery is published in Science Advanaces.

Source: AFP [July 29, 2021]

Support The Archaeology News Network with a small donation!



Related articles

New Zealand’s moa were exterminated by an extremely low-density human population

A new study suggests that the flightless birds named moa were completely extinct by the time New Zealand's...

Roman-era marble head found off Western Greek coast

The head of a statue dating back to Roman times was pulled out of the sea near Preveza,...

Roman theatre of Fano forgotten under ex-factory

An ancient Roman amphitheatre, in the town of Fano, in the Marche region, is slowly rotting away beneath...

The Phaleron Captives’ bioarchaeological research report is now free online

The Phaleron Captives’ archaeological research report is now available to read for free, as the journal where it...

Declining fertility rates may explain Neanderthal extinction, suggests new model

A new hypothesis for Neanderthal extinction supported by population modelling is put forward in a new study by...

The last Neanderthal necklace

Eagle talons are regarded as the first elements used to make jewellery by Neanderthals, a practice which spread...

4,000-year-old human bones found in Ras Al Khaimah

An unprecedented joint project has seen Ras Al Khaimah’s Department of Antiquities and Museums collaborate with two prominent...

Illuminating women’s role in the creation of medieval manuscripts

During the European Middle Ages, literacy and written texts were largely the province of religious institutions. Richly illustrated...