In schools we were taught that homo sapiens evolved from Africa and modern humans came to India after dispersing from East Africa around 125,000 years ago or later. But a new study and recent findings challenge the theory.
The prehistoric stone tools excavated from Attirampakkam village about 60 kilometers from Chennai challenges the theory of human evolution from Africa.
Professor Shanti Pappu of Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, who led the research team said, “Our study is on paradigm shift in thinking about spread of Middle Palaeolithic cultures in South Asia.”
Prof Pappu and Dr Kumar Akhilesh from the Sharma Centre have been excavating the site since 1999. The study was conducted in collaboration Prof Yanni Gunnell from the University of Lyon, France; Prof Ashok K. Singhvi, Haresh M. Rajapara and Dr. Anil D. Shukla from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.
The new study published in international scientific journal Nature suggests that Middle Palaeolithic culture was present in India some 385,000 years ago.
The Middle Palaeolithic period is considered to be an important cultural phase associated with modern humans and Neanderthals as well as other archaic hominins.
Scientists in absence of direct evidence in the form of fossils, the evolution of human race is chartered by changes in toolkits.
To come to the conclusion that Middle Palaeolithic culture was present in India, the scientists and researchers examined over 700 stone artefacts from from Middle Palaeolithic layers at Attirampakkam. Scientists had used specific luminescence dating method to date tool-bearing sediments.
According to researchers, the tools tools collectively show a shift away from Acheulian technologies towards Middle Palaeolithic strategies. The artifacts have distinctive stone-knapping known as Levallois technique.
Prof Papu said, “Without fossils it is difficult to pinpoint the species.”
The researcher asserted that we can suggest that multiple hominin dispersal associated with Middle Palaeolithic culture was occuring in India far earlier than 125,000 years ago.
“When we got the dates, we immediately realised the implications were mind-blowing. We cross checked our data again and again to be sure of our interpretation,” recalled Prof Pappu.
The archaeological site at Attirampakkam was discovered in 1863 by R.B.Foote and subsequently investigated by several scholars in the 1930s and 1960s.