Research press release




ヒト族は、少なくとも170万年前にアフリカから世界各地に移動した際、アシュール文化に特徴的な技術である握斧(ハンドアックス)を持ち出した。当時の骨格材料が極めてまれなため、ユーラシアでの人類の進化は、道具類の変遷を通じて明らかにされてきた。今回、Shanti Pappuたちの研究グループは、インド南部のアッティランパッカム遺跡から出土した7000点以上の石器を調べ、アシュール文化の技術から中期旧石器時代の技法(例えば、ルバロワ文化独自の石を砕く技術)への移行を総合的に実証した。以上の新知見から、約38万5000年前のインドで中期旧石器時代の文化が生まれたことが示唆された。中期旧石器時代の文化は、これとほぼ同時代にアフリカとヨーロッパで発達したことが知られている。


Hominins in India may have developed a Middle Palaeolithic culture around 385,000 years ago - much earlier than was previously thought - a study in this week’s Nature suggests. The findings could prompt a re-examination of the conventional view of early human migration out of Africa.

When hominins left Africa, at least 1.7 million years ago, they took with them their signature item of technology - the Acheulian hand axe. Given that skeletal material is extremely scarce, the evolution of humans in Eurasia is often charted by changes in toolkits. Shanti Pappu and colleagues studied more than 7,000 stone artefacts from the archaeological site of Attirampakkam in southern India, which collectively document a shift away from Acheulian technologies towards Middle Palaeolithic strategies such as the distinctive Levallois stone-knapping technique. Together, the finds suggest that a Middle Palaeolithic culture emerged in India at around 385,000 years ago - roughly the same time that it is known to have developed in Africa and in Europe.

Understanding the transition to the Middle Palaeolithic outside Europe and Africa is vital to the study of the lives and times of hominins in Eurasia, especially the appearance and subsequent migrations of anatomically modern humans within and out of Africa. These new finds suggest the presence of a fully-fledged Middle Palaeolithic culture in India long before any modern human migrations out of Africa may have dispersed Middle Palaeolithic technologies, which might imply that these migrations occurred earlier than has previously been thought and/or that local influences had a role in the development of the Middle Palaeolithic in India.

doi: 10.1038/nature25444

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