WTAP featured in Scientific American

The WTAP team’s research at Lomekwi 3 – dated to 3.3 million-years-old and featuring the world’s oldest known traces of stone tool technology – is featured in the May 2017 edition of Scientific American magazine. The article is written by Kate Wong, who spent 2 weeks with us at our field camp in July 2016 as part of her research into the origins of toolmaking and using, and what it means for understanding the origins of humanity. The cover features an artistic impression of an early hominin knapping Lomekwian tools using the bipolar technique.

If you would like to read Kate’s article featuring our work, you can find Scientific American at all good newstands, or visit this link: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ancient-stone-tools-force-rethinking-of-human-origins/

The New Origins of Technology

Fifty most influential French people 2016

WTAP co-director Sonia Harmand has been included in Vanity Fair magazine’s 50 most influential French people for the year 2016.

Vanity Fair‘s list includes singers, musicians, actors, writers, artists, musicians, business people, economists, politicians, chefs, and sports personalities. Sonia is one of five scientists included in the list, and is pictured in the field alongside the Chief of the Topanawi laga (river) where the WTAP field camp is located each season.

To see Sonia’s entry (in French) visit: http://www.vanityfair.fr/classement-50-francais#sonia

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WTAP makes the cover of Nature

In May 2015, the WTAP team’s discovery of the World’s oldest stone tools was featured on the front cover of the prestigious scientific journal NatureThe research we published was the result of almost 2 years of research and laboratory analysis involving more than 20 scientists, 15 field excavators, 3 student volunteers, and the support and help of many more people and organisations, without whom the research and publication could never have been completed!

Before our discovery, the oldest known stone tools came from the site of Gona in Ethiopia, and were radiometrically dated to be about 2.6 million-years old. The Gona tools consist of small cobbles that hominins (early human ancestors) knapped by freehand percussion to create sharp-edged flakes. This technology has been found at many sites in the East African Rift Valley (including in West Turkana) and is called the Oldowan industry.

The stone tools discovered at Lomekwi 3 and reported by us in Nature were dated using similar methods, but found to be about 3.3 million-years old – extending the known timespan of tool making 700,000 years back in time! The tools are also very different in size, form, and how they were made; they are much larger and heavier than those typical of the Oldowan, and were made by two different methods: bipolar, and passive hammer knapping. Because it is so distinctive and so much older than the Oldowan, we suggest the name Lomekwian to describe this material.

For now, the discovery of 3.3 million-year-old Lomekwian stone tools opens up many new questions about the timing and processes of human evolution in the Plio-Pleistoene.

Click the following link to access the full article on the Nature website.