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A longstanding conundrum of the Middle Paleolithic has been, how the very complicated and involved Levallois technology – said to be the hardest for modern knappers to master – could arise more or less synchronously in widely divergent regions inhabited by different hominin groups between whom so far no contact whatever could be established. The riddle has just become that much deeper with the Levallois artifacts reported by Akhilesh et al. and found in far away India and more or less exactly the same early time.
I don’t understand the reporting about the Sahelanthropus femur in Callaway. Apparently the have even spoken to the discoverer Beauvilain, but obviously not listened to him. Toumai as found is an obvious secondary internment, probably by Arab bedouin. The bones, arranged more or less in anatomic order, do not all belong to the same species or even genus. That femur, although hominid, most probably can tell us nothing about the skull found with it.
If Marsicek et al. are right we have to drop the European climate optimum of the Bandkeramik and replace it with one at End-Neolithic / Bell Beaker time. What their reconstructions show is a steep rise towards a plateau from 5.5–3 ka BC followed by another sharp step and a higher plateau through the End-Neolithic and Bronze Age times. The implications are far reaching.
The most convincing explanation for the rise of iron at the end of the Bronze Age is the collapse of the long distance trade networks and the resulting scarcity mainly of tin. The description of bimetallic daggers with iron blades and bronze handles in Pare seems to contradict this. One possible explanation might be that the collapse of trade mainly affected the Mediterranean and Near Eastern advanced civilizations. The peripheral European cultures with access to their own native tin sources may have escaped the scarcity and added the new metal not out of necessity but as a prestigious innovation.
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