Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Middle Eastern Humans, Twice as Old?

An archaeological find in Israel suggests that modern humans may have been in the Middle East before Africa, and twice as long ago as previously believed. And they traded and made tools to boot.

Read all about it at the Daily Mail.

We caution enthusiasts against aligning the levantine provenance of the find with biblical teaching, as if the Bible definitively says that humans arose in the Middle East. We're simply not sure that's the case, not least because the location of the primeval narrative seems deliberately and consciously obscure (two of the rivers of paradise are well known and two aren't known at all) and because the readers are, after all, from the Middle East, suggesting that the story is written for their perspective and not to put a point on a then-nonexistent map to satisfy the curiosity of then-nonexistent paleoanthropologists.

That is not to mention that the significance of this finding will certainly be revised as it is scrutinized, which is not to mention that it could be displaced entirely by yet another discovery.

None of which will keep people from using the find for their own ends, like crowing that all humans aren't Africans after all--or that the must be still somehow. Better to draw small conclusions than big ones, given the ridiculously fragmentary nature of our knowledge. It's a tooth, for goodness' sake!

1 comment:

Christine said...

Obviously the tooth was buried there in the flood. It must have belonged to Noah's father in law. ;-)

But what I would like to know is how did our "direct descendants" live 400,000 years ago?