Mysterious stones may represent ancient search for the perfect domain: ScienceAlert

Mysterious stones may represent ancient search for the perfect domain: ScienceAlert

Ancient rocks excavated from a site inhabited by early humans about 1.4 million years ago may represent attempts to achieve perfect geometry.

Limestone spheroids Al-Ubaidiya Archaeologists say the prehistoric site in Israel was deliberately shaped, and is showing signs of improvement as more work is done. This suggests that the creators had a specific goal in mind when they were sculpting, and this goal was very round.

This discovery doesn’t bring us much closer to knowing what the balls were used for, but it does show that there was a reason they were made that way.

“As they are being fabricated, the spheroids do not become smoother, but they become noticeably more spherical. They approach a perfect sphere, a feat that likely requires skilled skill and a predetermined goal.” Write a team Led by archaeologist Antoine Müller of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.

“The intentional production of ball-like objects at Ubaidiya likewise shows evidence of the desire of Acheulean hominins to achieve intentional geometry and symmetry in stone.”

How the researchers measured the surface angle, center of mass, and surface curvature of each of their artifacts. (Muller et al., R. Sock. Open science fiction.2023)

Spheroids are one of the fascinating mysteries of prehistoric times. They appear at sites across Africa, Asia and the Middle East dating back to about 2 million years ago, with varying degrees of sphericity. We don’t know what they were for.

Some studies suggest that early humans used spheroids Projectiles were also thrown. Other researchers speculate that they may have gotten used to it Breaking down the marrow from the bones. However, their The function remains mysteriousdespite the comprehensive and comprehensive exploration of various avenues.

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Instead of studying the specific function or functions the balls might perform, Mueller and his colleagues decided to take a step back. Instead, they investigated whether the balls were made intentionally, or were an accidental byproduct of the manufacture of other tools.

The research focused on 150 spherical objects recovered from Al-Ubaidiya. Dating back approximately 1.4 million years, they are the oldest known occurrence of objects outside Africa, and represent an unusually large collection from a single site.

The team performed high-resolution 3D scanning, creating mesh models that they could analyze without damaging the original artifacts. They then used a program to calculate the angles on the surfaces of the spheroids, where their centers of mass were, and the curvature of each sphere’s surface. The researchers also used mathematical functions called… Spherical harmonics To reconstruct the shape of each spheroid, and analyze the scars on the surface of each spheroid to determine how they were created.

Charts showing the relationship between stone reduction and approaching sphericity. (Muller et al., R. Sock. Open science fiction.2023)

According to the data, the spheroids were deliberately entangled, with their makers carefully removing material from specific points on the object’s surface. The more surface is cut, the rounder the balls will be.

However, the rocks did not become smoother, which the researchers attribute to intent.

“Since the surface curvature was not related to the density of the reduction, the Ubaidiya kidnappers did not want a smooth, almost round object.” Mueller and colleagues write.

“Nor did they accidentally produce a smooth surface by intense percussion. Instead, they appear to have attempted to realize the Platonic ideal of the sphere and approached this ideal after their spherical reduction sequence.”

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Even without knowing what the spheroids are for, the findings have important implications. They propose a deliberate cognitive process, and the skills needed to carry it out.

The researchers say this means that the spheroids represent a complex formal technique, and the first known attempt to impose symmetrical geometry on stone tools.

The research was published in Royal Society Open Science.

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