Research throws new light on ancient artifacts
Professor Geoffrey Bingham and a team of former students and archeologists have thrown new light on a longstanding paleolithic puzzle: the purpose of the large number of spherical stone artifacts at a major archaeological site in South Africa, dating from 1.8 million to 70,000 years ago.
Published this August in Scientific Reports, the research drew on the framework and methods developed in Bingham’s Perception/Action Lab. Its lead author Andrew Wilson, now at Beckett Leeds University in England, was a former Ph.D. student in the lab, as was co-author Qin Zhu, now at the University of Wyoming. In tandem with Lawrence Barham and Ian Stanistreet, archaeologists at the University of Liverpool in England, the researchers concluded that the stones likely served as projectile weapons for hunting and defense before the advent of spears.
“Our research,” explains Bingham, “suggests that the throwing of stones played a key role in the evolution of hunting.”
Bingham has been studying the mechanics and function of this complex human action – throwing – and its potential role in human evolution. Over the years he and his collaborators have continued to develop their theories on this capability and to develop virtual simulations to measure the mechanics of the task.