Not much time to post today, but wanted to address the news about the 70,000 year-old 'python cult' that's making the rounds today, evidence of which was discovered by Sheila Coulson (U of Oslo). The report can be found online on the Apollon website; it's pretty short and contains some photographs.
Until I see some good publications about the dating and the 'spectacular' lithic artifacts refered to here, I won't be convinced much by this report. This is what the "particularly beautiful spearheads" found below the indented rock face look like
They are further described as being "better crafted and more colourful than other spearheads from the same time and area." Really? These things look like pretty run-of-the-mill unifacial points and/or scrapers to me. Compare them to the following bifacial Still Bay point at the Blombos Schoolhouse site (from Minichillo 2005: 153, Fig. 5.3 - bar = 1cm) and which is of MSA age
The 'python rock' artifacts don't even come close to exhibiting this level of craftsmanship.
The paper in Apollon also states that there are only a few archaeologists working on the African MSA... the flurry of recent publications and presentations at international meetings precisely about that period shows this is not the case at all.
I'll be curious to see how this stands up to critical scrutiny once details about these finds are published in scientific, peer-reviewed journals. In the meantime, you can also check out a very good post on the report on the Remote Central blog and some other comments on Mundo Neandertal (in Spanish) and on John Hawks' blog.
Minichillo, T.J. 2005. Middle Stone Age Lithic Study, South Africa: An Examination of Modern Human Origins. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington.
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