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Day 34 (July 29, 2011): What’s the Point?
July 29, 2011
The road to becoming human was sometimes a dangerous one, and survival required sophisticated weapons. Here at Olorgesailie, the BOK-2 team has uncovered one of the first kinds of such weapons—the MSA point.
The MSA, or Middle Stone Age, is the more recent of the two stone technologies we have a record of here at Olorgesailie. In our digs, the MSA is represented in a younger formation called the Oltulelei Formation, which lies on top of the older Olorgesailie Formation. This time period is the expertise of Alison and John.
The MSA is an intriguing time in prehistory characterized by the rise of much more complicated tool kit and ways of manufacturing tools (i.e., stone technologies). Flake blades and smaller, more sophisticated prepared cores begin to appear, but the most unique tool type of the MSA is called ‘the point’.
A point is a particularly sharp and tapered stone tool. After a complicated manufacturing process, the point was then hafted, or bound, to a wooden shaft. Hafting represents the first technology combining two different materials together, quite a step! It gave early humans a major advantage in hunting, enabling them to take down larger prey and strike from greater distances. So, how did early humans create such a valuable tool?
Finding these points at BOK-2 has been very exciting. It shows that early humans were well on their way to having the technological abilities of later prehistoric members of our own species, Homo sapiens.