Oldest Stone-Tipped Javelins Discovered: 280,000 Years Old.

Image courtesy National Geographic

Knives are among the oldest pieces of human technology. Metal knives have been part of the human toolkit for thousands of years, but it’s mind-boggling to consider how long our ancestors used stone cutting tools like this one. This javelin tip, discovered in Ethiopia, is believed to be 280,000 years old.

This is believed to be the earliest date for the use of stone-tipped thrown javelins, predating earlier similar discoveries by almost 200,000 years. What’s more amazing is that these stone-tipped javelins were made by prehuman hominids, because anatomically modern homo sapiens sapiens only appeared 200,000 years ago.

Click here for the full National Geographic article.


  1. Matt in FL says:

    The evolution of the use of tools is fascinating to me. From the earliest minds that could barely handle the concept of “useful rock” to the next step of those who figured out to make “not useful rock” look like “useful rock.” Then, as this article talks about, the transition from “thrusting spear” to “throwing spear,” which is the mental leap from “useful rock in my hand” to “useful rock at arms’ length” to “useful rock way over there…” Just kind of amazing.

    1. Nate says:

      +1. I also find the evolution of food to be incredibly fascinating.

      1. Chris Dumm says:

        I think it’s amazing that our tools (and later, our animal companions) actually helped us become human. We’re not just animals with tools; we’re the animals we are *because of* our tools.

        Knives (wedges), fire, cordage, and the lever are the four most basic tools our ancestors mastered; everything else came from them.

        That being said, I’m not sure anyone (including myself) would bother to read The Truth About Levers, or The Truth About Ropes, or The Truth About Fire, or The Truth About Grasses With Dry, Edible Seeds.

        1. knightofbob says:

          I’m taking physics right now, and was a wildland firefighter in a former life, so TTAL and TTAF would probably actually interest me, at least a little bit.

        2. 2hotel9 says:

          Talking about fire will ALWAYS get my attention!

        3. Aharon says:

          Pyro maniacs would probably love the Truth about Fire.

  2. Mark N. says:

    All weapons are a method of extending the reach of the arm. The first two weapons were the rock and the stick; and anything after that is a mere refinement. Hominids were vitally aware of the fact that the closer you get to an animal, the more dangerous it is. So they started using round stones for throwing or adding heft and hardness to the hand, and sticks for clubbing (adding leverage and distance). Pointy sticks soon followed. Since wood tips, even fire hardened, dull rapidly, stone tips were added. Eventually bows an arrows came along further extending reach. (The first stone knives were only for cutting and scraping, not for stabbing.) One could easily argue that firearms are a development of the thrown rock–and in fact that is what the ammunition was for the first cannons.

  3. 2hotel9 says:

    Pretty cool. I have tried my hand at knapping flint and it is an experience that will give you a whole lot of respect for those furry little dudes.

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Oldest Stone-Tipped Javelins Discovered: 280,000 Years Old.

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