A new study has found that ancient humans used precise flint tools to slice animal bones so they can feed on the bone marrow inside.
The study, made public in the PLOS One journal on 19th January, was carried out by Professor Ran Barkai and Dr. Aviad Agam of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, along with Dr. Flavia Venditti of the University of Tubingen and researchers from the Sapienza University of Rome.
The research involved examining the flint tools discovered at the 300,000- to 500,000-year-old Revadim archaeological site, east of Israel’s city of Ashdod.
Professor Barkai said similar stone tools were first created about 2.6 million years ago in Africa before their use spread across the world as humans migrated.
They carefully examined the structure and appearance of 53 tools as well as the traces of organic residue found on some of them.
The detailed analysis brought them to the conclusion that the tools were used to split open the bones of animals such as cattle, fallow deer, and gazelles to get the marrow inside them.
Using flint they took from the site, experts made replicas of the tools and tried using them to shatter the bones of middle-size animals.
Professor Barkai said: “Until now, they had never been subjected to methodical lab testing to find out what they were actually used for.”
He added: “The bones must be broken neatly in two, which requires great skill and precision.
“Shattering the bone into pieces would damage the precious bone marrow.
“The chopping tool, which we examined in this study, was evidently outstandingly popular because it was easy to make and highly effective for this purpose.
“This is apparently the reason for its enormous distribution over such a long period of time.”
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