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Discovery of Oldest Bow and Arrow Technology

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Discovery of Oldest Bow and Arrow Technology

Republished courtesy of Max Planck Institute. Photo: Fa-Hien Lena has emerged as one of South Asia’s most important archaeological sites since the 1980s, preserving remains of our species, their tools, and their prey in a tropical context. Credit: Langley et al., 2020.

The origins of human innovation have traditionally been sought in the grasslands and coasts of Africa or the temperate environments of Europe. More extreme environments, such as the tropical rainforests of Asia, have been largely overlooked, despite their deep history of human occupation.

A new study provides the earliest evidence for bow-and-arrow use, and perhaps the making of clothes, outside of Africa ~48,000 to 45,000 years ago in the tropics of Sri Lanka.

The island of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, just south of the Indian subcontinent, is home to the earliest fossils of our species, Homo sapiens, in South Asia. It also preserves clear evidence for human occupation and the use of tropical rainforest environments outside of Africa from ~48,000 to 3,000 years ago—refuting the idea that these supposedly resource-poor environments acted as barriers for migrating Pleistocene humans. The question as to exactly how humans obtained rainforest resources, including fast-moving food sources like monkeys and squirrels – remains unresolved. […]

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