Archaeologists uncover sophisticated stone tools dating back to 385,000 years in India

Archaeologists have uncovered sophisticated stone tools in India dating back around 385,000 years. According to experts the discovery is likely to revise our knowledge of so called ''archaic humans'' dramatically and the extent it spread out from Africa so very long ago.

According to new research published in Nature a Middle Paleolithic culture existed in India around 385,000 years ago, which is much earlier than previously thought. The Middle Stone Age, as the stage of hominid development is called is chracterised by the emergence of sophisticated stone tools, including fancy new blades, distinctive flaking and pointing methods, and a preference for smaller tools.

Earlier evidence had pointed to the emergence of Middle Paleolithic culture in India to between 140,000 to 46,000 years ago. With the new find experts are now revising their ideas about the kinds of cultures that existed in South Asia at this early stage in human history.

When the first hominids moved out of Africa around 1.7 million years ago, they had devised a tool known to archaeologists as the Acheulian hand axe. Acheulian culture is known by this tool. But the tool eventually became obsolete as new, better tools became popular. The period from Lower Paleolithic Acheulian culture to the Middle Paleolithic, between 300,000 to 200,000 years ago, was marked by a monumental transition with the adoption of more sophisticated tools and manufacturing techniques.

The Indian archeologists uncovered these tools at one of India's best known archaeological sites - Attirampakkam, located near the present-day city of Chennai in southern India.

"It has a very, very long history of occupation of different prehistoric cultures in this one site," says Shanti Pappu, an archaeologist at the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education in Chennai and one of the lead authors of the new study.