News & AnalysisArchaeology

New Light on Revolutions That Weren't

Science  04 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6081, pp. 530-531
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6081.530

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Summary

At a meeting last month, researchers heard new evidence that human evolution took a gradual, rather than revolutionary, course during two key junctures in prehistory. A study of ancient stone tools from South Africa concludes that hunters manufactured spears with stone points—a sign of complex behavior—200,000 years earlier than had previously been thought. And new excavations at a 20,000-year-old settlement in Jordan, laden with artifacts typical of much later sites, suggest that the dramatic rise of farming villages in the Near East also had early and deep roots. According to some attendees, the pair of talks provides still more reasons why they are skeptical of revolutions in archaeology.