|Archaeologists have discovered eight extremely well-preserved spears
that are an astonishing 300,000 years old, making them the oldest known
weapons ever found.
They probably belonged to members of the species homo heidelbergensis,
although no human remains have yet been found at the site. Homo
heidelbergensis lived throughout the Old World between 600,000 and
300,000 years ago, and may be the direct ancestor of both Homo
neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens.
The University of Tübingen team uncovered the spearheads in an open-cast
brown coal mine in Schoeningen, Germany. They were found alongside animal
remains, showing, says the team, that their users were highly skilled
craftsmen and hunters, with a capacity for abstract thought comparable
to our own.
The animal remains included the bones of large mammals - elephants,
rhinoceroses, horses and lions - as well as the remains of amphibians,
reptiles, shells and even beetles, all preserved in the brown coal.