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For several years Brooks, an archeologist at George Washington University, had been pursuing the heretical hypothesis that humans in Africa had invented sophisticated technologies even earlier, while their European counterparts were still getting by with the same sorts of tools they’d been using for hundreds of thousands of years.
If conclusive evidence hadn’t turned up, it was only because nobody had really bothered to look for it.
Four years ago archeologists Alison Brooks and John Yellen discovered what might be the earliest traces of modern human culture in the world. Thirty yards below, the Semliki River runs so clear and cool the submerged hippos look like giant lumps of jade.
Their discovery came on a sun-soaked hillside called Katanda, in a remote corner of Zaire near the Ugandan border.
To put this in perspective, imagine discovering a prototypical Pontiac in Leonardo da Vinci’s attic.
Nor is it the highly publicized Eve hypothesis, put forth by geneticists, suggesting that all humans on Earth today share a common female ancestor who lived in Africa 200,000 years ago.
The real advance, abiding quietly in the shadows while Eve draws the limelight, is simply a new way of telling time.
To be precise, it is a whole smorgasbord of new ways of telling time.
From the rubble he extricated a beautifully crafted, fossilized bone harpoon point.
Eventually two more whole points and fragments of five others turned up, all of them elaborately barbed and polished.