JERUSALEM – Israeli archaeologists announced on Sunday the discovery of half-million-year-old stone tools that suggest the cognitive capabilities of the hominids who crafted them were much more similar to our own than previously thought.
Dubbed a kind of stone-age Swiss army knife by one of the archaeologists working on the site, many of the objects found were flint hand axes, among other tools.
“The carving of these pieces requires a conceptual leap that allowed them to imagine the desired tool before starting to shape it,” said Ran Barkai, the head of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University, emphasizing that this was the key to the discovery’s importance.
The tools were found in the Israeli Arab town of Jaljulia, located at the edge of the coastal plain near the border with the West Bank.
The excavation’s director, Maayan Shemer, added that “The findings (at Jaljulia) are amazing, both in their state of preservation and in their implications about our understanding of this ancient material culture.”
Shemer highlighted the tools’ technological variety, adding that the investigations can aid scientists in their understanding of Homo erectus, a species of extinct hominid that inhabited the area during the Paleolithic Age.
Because the land on which Israel sits is filled with the archaeological remains of numerous different eras, whenever construction is undertaken the land must first be investigated by experts, often leading to discoveries such as the ones in Jaljulia.