Stone Age Spheroids May Be As Much Weapon as Tool


Scientists have revised their opinion about prehistoric stones known as “spheroids.” Long thought to have been mere hand tools used by prehistoric people, scientists have now decided that the evidence points to more dynamic uses as projectiles for hunting. The scientists published their findings in an article entitled “A Dynamical Analysis of the Suitability of Prehistoric Spheroids from the Cave of Hearths as Thrown Projectiles” in the journal called Scientific Reports.

Previously, scientists believed that humans who lived during the Stone Age has primitive tools. Now the evidence suggests that the tennis ball-like spheres could have been used in a hunting process. They are too small to have killed even small prey, which leads scientists to believe that the spheres were used together, to at least cause severe injury to animals.

Stone Age rocks were initially found in the Cave of Hearths in South Africa bout 30 years ago. Dating systems have placed the stones at approximately 1.8 million years old. The paper states that this makes them one of the oldest human technologies in existence.

Initially, archeologists believed they were used as tools, in particular as tools to sharpen or grind objects, or even to process foods.  They also believed the rocks could have been useful as hammers.

The new findings are a result of computer models that include data of modern people throwing objects of various weights. The aim was to determine if the rocks had the right amount of heft to be useful in hunting. According to the results, “[a]bout 81 percent of the spheroids, if thrown properly, had the ability to inflict pain or damage to a medium-sized animal like an impala antelope.” Importantly, the study showed that there was minimal damage to the rocks during the throwing. This was not the case with other objects made from different rock types, such as quartz.

Scientists hypothesized that the spheres were useful to scaring off other carnivores. The stones were good weapons, but the development of flint-tipped spears likely made them archaic. Spears were not invented until around 500,000 to 900,000 years ago.

The most interesting aspect of the study is what it means for our knowledge of how Stone Age people communicated and thought. It may be a logical conclusion that the human beings of the era were able to perceive which objects would be to discern which objects were best throwing, and which would be best in the context of hunting. Since throwing would be with the purpose of inflicting damage, it could mean humans were aware that this would be the logical result of projectile selection.

Ultimately, the scientists concluded that:

“These observations lend biomechanical support to the argument that the throwing of stones, and in particular spheroids, played a key role in the evolution of hunting before the development of spears. We are not claiming this to be the sole or even primary function of spheroids, but these results show that this function is an option that warrants reconsidering as a potential use for this long-lived, multi-purpose tool.”


  1. OregonLive says:

    What the what????

    • none given says:

      Self explanatory dude

  2. Russ Fielder says:

    Common sense

  3. Sam says:

    They did a study of rocks??? LOL Shady academics

  4. Sheridan says:

    This seems like common sense but in reality we can’t assume anything when going as far back as Stone Ages.

  5. melody says:

    Interesting findings. Wonder what they’re made from?

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