New behaviors dating back to ca. 35’000 years identified at Toumboura III archaeological site, Eastern Senegal

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The first stone tools made several millions to hundreds of thousand years ago by past hunter-gatherers implied the percussion of rocks against other rocks to create cutting tools replacing the disappearing “in-built” cutting devices: teeth. The first Homo sapiens have found a very large variety of solutions to make different types of stone tools for different needs implied by their hunter-gatherer activities, such as food acquisition and the processing of animal and plant resources. The excavation of the archaeological site of Toumboura III has provided more than 13’000 stone artefacts resulting from the production of very specific stone tools: bifacial tools, among which small bifacial points probably intended to be hafted on wooden shafts and used as projectiles. What makes these stone tools even more special is the evidence of the use of the pressure technique to make them instead of stone percussion. Pressure flaking is considered the most precise technique there is to control stone tool production. This technique is very rare around the world during the Palaeolithic and it has only been identified on few occasions in South Africa, while in Europe this technique appears much later in the archaeological record. Its occurrence in Senegal, at ca. 35’000 years ago, offers clear evidence for local innovative behavior and independent evolution during the Upper Pleistocene in Africa. While West Africa has for long been neglected in the discussions on human behavioral evolution, current research in the region is now changing these perspectives. The international research program “Human population and paleoenvironment in Africa – Falémé project”, directed by the “Archaeology and Peopling in Africa” lab of the University of Geneva, is a key player in these new research dynamics.


Schmid, V.C., Douze, K., Tribolo, C. et al. 
Middle Stone Age Bifacial Technology and Pressure Flaking at the MIS 3 Site of Toumboura III, Eastern Senegal.
Afr Archaeol Rev (2021).