Across the northern hemisphere, several ancient sites feature interesting tools. The presence of hominins is often accompanied by rounded stone spheres, with some being over two million years old. A large number of markings can be found on the stones, suggesting that they were shaped with a purpose.
The mystery of their use may have been solved as a team of researchers analyzed ten stones of this type, which were located in the Qesem Cave, a Lower Paleolithic site that was inhabited by early humans.
According to the data found by the archeologists, the cave was inhabited between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago. What makes the discovery even more interesting is that within this same timeframe, many other communities had abandoned these stones.
During the study, the team concluded that the stones were used to smash massive bones with the goal to extract the nutritious bone marrow that could be found inside them. Tests conducted on replica bones proved that the tools were, in fact, efficient. As such, the stones were used as percussion tools and are great for this purpose.
At first, the team surveyed the 29 stone balls found in the cave. With the exception of one which was made from flint, the others were made from dolomite and limestone, and it was clear that they had been brought to the cave from a different area. The inhabitants of the cave brought several tools from other areas in the cave, a sign of early recycling.
Ten of the stone balls featured major marks of use-wear and other residues, and they were analyzed with the help of advanced scientific tools. The results noted that traces of organic tissue were present in the form of spongy and compact bones, along with fat and collagen fibers.
This information is on par with the dietary habits during the specified timeframe. A paper was published in a scientific journal.