Magazine article Science News

Stone Age Site Gets Pushed Back in Time

Magazine article Science News

Stone Age Site Gets Pushed Back in Time

Article excerpt

Stone Age site gets pushed back in time

More than 20 years ago, the potassium argon technique for calculating the age of ancient rocks revealed that early hominid sites at Olduvai Gorge in East Africa dated to 1.8 million years ago, a much older estimate than had generally been recognized. The same method, which depends on the decay of potassium's naturally radioactive isotope to the nonradioactive gas argon, now has significantly pushed back the age of another East African site containing remains of later homind activity during the Stone Age.

Artifact-bearing layers of volcanic ash at the Olorgesailie river basin in Kenya were formerly estimated to be about 500,000 years old, but now are more accurately dated at 700,000 to 900,000 years old, report Bethany A. Bye of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and her colleagues in the Sept. 17 NATURE.

Large numbers of stone hand-axes have been uncovered at Olorgesailie (SN: 4/25/87, p. …

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