Washington, Jan 14 (ANI): Modern living may have originated roughly 500,000 years earlier than it is believed and was actually invented by Homo Erectus-our hairy, heavy-browed ancestor species- and not the "modern" humans, Homo Sapiens, according to a new study.
At the prehistoric Gesher Benot Ya'aqov site in northern Israel, researchers have found the earliest known evidence of social organization, communication, and divided living and working spaces-all considered traits of modern human behaviour.
Archaeologists have claimed that the former hunter-gatherer encampment dates back as far as 750,000 years ago, and must have been built by Homo erectus or another ancestral human species.
Fossil record suggests that Homo Sapiens-our own species-emerged only about a couple hundred thousand years ago.
At the site, researchers found artifacts including hand axes, chopping tools, scrapers, hammers and awls, animal bones, and botanical remains buried in distinct areas.
"Different tasks"-from nut processing to seafood preparation-"were taking place in different locations in the site," National Geographic News quoted archaeologist Naama Goren-Inbar, who led the excavation, as saying.
"The modification of basalt tools was done in proximity to the fireplace but, on the other hand, flint (sharpening) was done on the other end of the site in association with where we found a lot of fish teeth," said Goren-Inbar, of Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology in Mount Scopus, Israel.
On the basis of their finds and evidence from other sites and groups, the researchers assume there was a division of labour at Gesher Benot Ya'aqov.
Based on ethnographic analogies and comparisons, Goren-Inbar speculated that women must be gathering nuts and processing small animals like fish, crabs, and turtles close to the communal hearth.
The men would be off hunting or situated in farther corners of the site butchering larger game, including a long-extinct elephant species, she hinted.
Basalt, limestone, and flint tool making would also be taking place in various locations around the encampment.
And some people would just be chewing down on roasted nuts-still a local staple-or fish.
"One of the highlights of our report is that people ate fish more than 750,000 years ago," said Goren-Inbar.
The study suggested that the encampment, located on an ancient lakeshore, holds some of the earliest evidence of fish eating ever found.
Archaeologist Dani Nadel agreed that the new discovery indicates a surprisingly early emergence of modern human behavior.
The study has been published in the journal Science. (ANI)