Knives 55,000 Years Older Than Previously Thought

Looks like man’s oldest tool just got older.

According to the journal Science, prehistoric humans were using a “highly skilled method” of making knives 75,000 years ago, about 55,000 years earlier than previously thought.

It had been assumed that the technique of “pressure-flaking”—otherwise known in the knife industry as “knapping” and practiced by Errett Callahan, Eric Bergland and others—was invented by Europeans 20,000 years ago. Basically, knapping consists of exerting pressure against the stone knife with another tool to create a sharp edge.

However, University of Colorado researchers found the same technique used in sharpening the “stone weapons” discovered in Blombos Cave in South Africa and knapped some 55,000 years earlier.

The researchers arrived at their conclusion by knapping some knives of their own and comparing the results to the stone points found in the Blombos Cave. The similarities between the results of the researchers’ knapped knives and many of the stone points from the cave led them to conclude the technique was used much earlier in the Middle Stone Age.

Information on exactly how the stone points were dated was unavailable at press time.

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