these pre- and post-Toba industries suggest closer affinities to African Middle Stone Age traditions (such as Howieson's Poort) than to contemporaneous Eurasian Middle Paleolithic ones that are typically based on discoidal and Levallois techniques. . . This interpretation would be consistent with a southern route of dispersal of modern humans from the Horn of Africa (24); the latter, however, will remain speculative until other Middle Paleolithic sites in the Indian subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula are excavated and dated (my emphasis).
"This is some of the earliest evidence for the spread of modern humans out of Africa towards Australia,'' Petraglia said in a telephone interview from New York.Oh and by the way, the artifacts in question were found "under a 2.5 meter (8.4-foot) thick ash deposit . . . " If anyone really believes the effects of an accumulation of over 8 feet of ash on human survival can be discounted, I hear that John Hawks has a bridge over in Brooklyn he can sell you real cheap. (No offense, John. :-) )The study says the relics, made of limestone, quartzite, chert and other minerals, are likely from a variety of stone tools from the Indian Middle Paleolithic era that lasted from about 150,000 to 38,000 B.C.
Yet the characteristics of the artifacts are more typical of the African Middle Stone Age that ended about 40,000 years ago than they are of younger artifacts found elsewhere in Europe and Asia, the study says. That finding suggests that modern humans had migrated out of Africa and were already in southern India when the Toba Tuff eruption blanketed the region in ash.
"It will be very much debated," Petraglia said. "There are people that are wedded to their theories and won't like it at all, and there are others who will welcome our study because this part of the world is very understudied."
In another interview (National Geographic) Petraglia makes clear that his results do not mean Toba was a piece of cake:
"The fact that we have this ash is just icing on the cake, because it tells us that if it's modern humans, then they were able to persist through a major eruptive event," he said. "But they would have had a very, very difficult time."What Petraglia's findings suggest to me is that the Toba blast was not sufficient to have had much of an effect on Africa, as Ambrose has argued, or Europe either -- but it would certainly have had a very significant effect on any modern humans living in South Asia, and could certainly have had lasting consequences for human history.
(to be continued . . . )