Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Michelle Langley, Senior Research Fellow, Griffith University

Archaeological excavations deep within the rainforests of Sri Lanka have unearthed the earliest evidence for hunting with bows and arrows outside Africa.

At Fa-Hien Lena, a cave in the heart of Sri Lanka’s wet zone forests, we discovered numerous tools made of stone, bone, and tooth – including a number of small arrow points carved from bone which are about 48,000 years old.

When was the bow and arrow invented?

The invention of the bow and arrow allowed people to hunt prey at a much greater distance. People no longer had to get within “a stone’s throw” of prey which could suddenly bolt and escape. This innovation greatly increased the chances of a successful hunt.

Bows and arrows also made it much safer to hunt dangerous prey. If you don’t have to get too close, you’re less likely to be trampled or mauled by a hurt and angry animal.

The origin of the bow and arrow is one of the great mysteries of human technological innovation. How did it come about? When? Where? And why?

Read more: What a bone arrowhead from South Africa reveals about ancient human cognition

48,000-year-old arrowheads reveal early human innovation in the Sri Lankan rainforest Small monkeys such as these macaques were targeted with bows and arrows from 48,000 years ago. P. Roberts

Currently, the oldest evidence for the use of the bow and arrow are small stone points found in Sibudu cave in South Africa, which are some 64,000 years old.

Outside Africa, the oldest finds were previously pieces of bows found in Germany dating back no more than 18,000 years.

Because bows and arrows are mainly made from highly perishable stuff like wood, sinew, and fibres, they don’t leave a lot of evidence behind for archaeologists to find. So the small bone points recovered from Fa-Hien Lena are an important discovery.

The bone points show evidence for having been fixed to a small shaft and shot at high speed into prey – which were apparently mostly small monkeys and giant squirrels, judging by the butchered bones thrown away at the site after meals.

48,000-year-old arrowheads reveal early human innovation in the Sri Lankan rainforest One of the small bone points discovered at Fa-Hien Lena. M. C. Langley

Complex tools, complex minds

The discovery of such ancient bone arrow points is startling in itself. However, we also found other tools which give equally rare insights into the lives of the earliest members of our species currently documented in Sri Lanka.

Particularly interesting are well-preserved knives, scrapers, and awls made from the bones and teeth of monkeys and deer, which were used to work skins or plant materials.

These tools are our only way to learn about the other, more fragile items that may originally have been at the site, because anything made from leather or plant fibre (such as clothing, bags, baskets, mats, or nets) stood no chance of surviving 48,000 years in the humid tropical environment.

48,000-year-old arrowheads reveal early human innovation in the Sri Lankan rainforest Bone technology of Fa-Hien Lena. Tools made from bone and teeth of monkeys and smaller mammals recovered from Fa-Hien Lena, Sri Lanka. This technology included small bone arrow points (bottom right), and skin or plant-working tools. M. C. Langley

One of these artefacts is an unusual implement with carefully spaced notches down each side. It appears to be a shuttle for creating nets of woven fibres. No doubt nets would have been incredibly useful for catching the tree-dwelling prey the people of Fa-Hien Lena hunted, as well as bringing the fish up from the rivers.

48,000-year-old arrowheads reveal early human innovation in the Sri Lankan rainforest Symbolic items of Fa-Hien Lena. Some of the symbolic artefacts recovered from Fa-Hien Lena, Sri Lanka. Here you can see shell beads and different pigments in bright red, yellow, and silver which were used to decorate bodies or items. M. C. Langley

These rainforest pioneers also left behind evidence about their social lives in the form of white shell beads and small blocks of mineral pigments in bright colours: red, yellow, and silver.

Each of the pigment nodules show signs they were used to create paints for the body, and three of the bright red nodules were drilled to be strung as beads – something we have not found anywhere else in the world.

The white shell beads, on the other hand, are similar to those found in Africa and Eurasia, but were collected or traded from the coast some 20–30 kilometres away. Apparently, small, shiny, white shell beads never get old.

With these finds, it is becoming more and more clear that we have only just begun to scratch the surface when it comes to understanding the earliest modern human communities.

Authors: Michelle Langley, Senior Research Fellow, Griffith University

Read more https://theconversation.com/48-000-year-old-arrowheads-reveal-early-human-innovation-in-the-sri-lankan-rainforest-139989

Writers Wanted

Forensic linguists can make or break a court case. So who are they and what do they do?


The Conversation


Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Business News

Nisbets’ Collab with The Lobby is Showing the Sexy Side of Hospitality Supply

Hospitality supply services might not immediately make you think ‘sexy’. But when a barkeep in a moodily lit bar holds up the perfectly formed juniper gin balloon or catches the light in the edg...

The Atticism - avatar The Atticism

Buy Instagram Followers And Likes Now

Do you like to buy followers on Instagram? Just give a simple Google search on the internet, and there will be an abounding of seeking outcomes full of businesses offering such services. But, th...

News Co - avatar News Co

Cybersecurity data means nothing to business leaders without context

Top business leaders are starting to realise the widespread impact a cyberattack can have on a business. Unfortunately, according to a study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Tenable, some...

Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable - avatar Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion