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Culture, technology-sharing helped us evolve

A man walks past a sign showing the evolution of man in a business district in downtown Tokyo November 17, 2008. Japan slid into its first recession in seven years in the third quarter as exports crumbled, and some analysts said an escalation in the global financial crisis may have put the economy on course for its longest ever contraction. REUTERS/Michael Caronna (JAPAN)
A man walks past a sign showing the evolution of man in a business district in downtown Tokyo November 17, 2008. Japan slid into its first recession in seven years in the third quarter as exports crumbled, and some analysts said an escalation in the global financial crisis may have put the economy on course for its longest ever contraction. REUTERS/Michael Caronna (JAPAN)

Washington: A team of researchers has suggested that by sharing their culture and technological advances with each other, early human ancestors were able to evolve and travel across Earth.

“We are looking mainly at the part of South Africa where Blombos Cave is situated. We sought to find out how groups moved across the landscape and how they interacted,” says Christopher S. Henshilwood, Professor at the University of Bergen (UiB) and University of the Witwatersrand and one of the authors of the articles.

Since its discovery in the early 1990s, Blombos Cave, about 300 kilometres east of Cape Town, South Africa, has yielded important new information on the behavioural evolution of the human species.

The researchers from UiB and Witswatersrand have now been looking closer at technology used by different groups in this and other regions in South Africa, such as spear points made of stone, as well as decorated ostrich eggshells, to determine whether there was an overlap and contact across groups of Middle Stone Age humans. How did they make contact with each other? How would contact across groups affect one group? How did the exchange of symbolic material culture affect the group or groups?

“The pattern we are seeing is that when demographics change, people interact more. For example, we have found similar patterns engraved on ostrich eggshells in different sites. This shows that people were probably sharing symbolic material culture, at certain times but not at others” says co-author Karen van Niekerk.

This sharing of symbolic material culture and technology also tells us more about Homo sapiens’ journey from Africa, to Arabia and Europe. Contact between cultures has been vital to the survival and development of our common ancestors Homo sapiens. The more contact the groups had, the stronger their technology and culture became.

The study is published in PLOS ONE. (ANI)

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