Hand axes. Scrapers. Blades. These and other labels archaeologists put on Stone Age implements imply that ancient people used the tools in specific ways. However, a new study indicates that groups in western Asia used stone implements in more flexible ways, which gave them access to a varied diet of plants and meat over a span of nearly 50,000 years.
The area's prehistoric residents–generally classified by researchers as Neandertals–maintained their versatile stone-tool practices even as major cultural changes rocked the late Stone Age world, according to a team led by Bruce L. Hardy of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.