Earliest ever stone abrasion tool, from 300,000 years ago, found in Israel

Archaeologists say they have found the earliest ever example of a stone abrasion tool and dated it to 150,000 years before such tools were thought to have first been used.

Pre-historic hominids apparently used the dolomite cobble, found in the Tabun Cave at Mount Carmel, to wear down materials some 350,000 years ago, but exactly what it was they trying to produce remains unknown, a Haifa University research team assessed, according to a statement.

The dating puts the tool in the hands of human ancestors before the development of homo sapiens, and some 150,000 years earlier than the previously known oldest abrading tool.

A stone abrasion tool, dated to be some 350,000 years old, that was found in the Tabun Cave in Mount Carmel. (University of Haifa)

“While the tool is seemingly ‘simple,’ its early appearance and the fact that it has no parallel in such an early stage of human evolution give it world importance,” researchers Ron Shimelmitz, Iris Groman-Yaroslavski, Mina Weinstein-Evron, and Danny Rosenberg of the university’s Zinman Institute of Archaeology say in the statement.

Their findings will be published in the January 2021 issue of Journal of Human Evolution.