Hand ax innovators reached South Asia earlier than thought

Finds unearthed in southeastern India offer a cutting-edge revision of hominid migrations out of Africa more than 1 million years ago that spread pivotal tool-making methods.

Makers of a specific style of teardrop-shaped stone hand ax, flat-edged cleavers and other implements that originated in Africa around 1.6 million years ago (SN: 1/31/09, p. 11) reached South Asia not long afterward, between 1.5 and 1 million years ago, say archaeologist Shanti Pappu of the Sharma Center for Heritage Education in Tamil Nadu, India and her colleagues.

Rather than waiting until around 500,000 years ago to head into South Asia, as many researchers have thought, the African hand ax crowd wasted relatively little time before hightailing it to India, Pappu’s team concludes in the March 25 Science....

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