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Ergo, Attirampakkam must have been at a biological or technological crossroads as humans evolved and dispersed.

“That way, the palaeoanthropological record of this region is critical for linking the earliest evidence found in the regions of the Old World (East Africa, Georgia and Southeast Asia) while understanding hominin evolution and adaptations,” Parth Chauhan, an assistant professor of humanities at the Indian Institute for Science Education and Research, Mohali, told . Luminescence dating Excavation at Attirampakkam began in 1999.

To this end, he and his team excavated more than 7,000 stone tools from the sediment layer and analysed them in the lab.

They kept an eye out for the presence of telltale marks of tool-making technologies and, based on that, tried to attribute specific uses to these tools.

In the beginning, researchers from SCHE studied the artefacts recovered from the lowest rung of the excavation site, which corresponds to the Lower Palaeolithic or the Acheulean period.

More recently, they analysed artefacts dug out from the layers on top.

“There is a clear difference between the techniques used by hominins to fashion their tools and the knapping technology that evolved over time,” Pappu, also the corresponding author of the new study, explained.So by studying the site layer by layer, scientists have been able to reconstruct the history of human habitation, behaviour and culture in India.“In the present study, one of our prime objectives was to examine the entire period of Middle Palaeolithic at Attirampakkam with a global perspective – specifically, its origins and evolution,” Pappu said.In the Middle Palaeolithic period, a new technology called Levallois became common for forging instruments.“The technique involves the removal of small flakes or points from carefully prepared cores in a structured manner,” Pappu said.

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