Ancient tools found in India tell a new story of when humans migrated from Africa

The Acheulian hand axe, a signature item of technology in hominins.

(CNN)Thousands of stone tools dating back as far as 385,000 years that have been uncovered in India suggest humans might have migrated from Africa much earlier than previously thought.

Until now, many researchers believed that ancient tool-making technology -- chipping off sharp-edged pieces of stone from larger rocks to make primitive axes, knives and cleavers -- came to India between 140,000 and 90,000 years ago.
Middle Palaeolithic artefacts from excavations at Attirampakkam.
However, in a study by archeologist Shanti Pappu and her team from the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education in India, stone tools discovered at Attirampakkam, a prehistoric site in southeast India, were dated back to between 385,000 and 172,000 years ago.
    Even though no human remains were found alongside the artifacts, the find, which was publicized in the journal Nature on Wednesday, has opened up several interpretations. One interpretation is that the era of African migration could date back a hundred thousand years earlier than previously thought.
    "It was believed that this culture came to India much later, only post 125,000 years ago with modern humans" Pappu says.
    According to the study, these tools are crucial for testing theories about the origins and early evolution of these cultures, and for understanding their association with modern humans or their prehistoric ancestors.
    Some typical artefacts from Middle Palaeolithic cultural phases at Attirampakkam.
    "We don't know who made these tools nor do we know how much local influences prevailed as compared to possible influences from dispersing hominins out of Africa," Pappu told CNN, adding that these are questions for further studies.
    According to Pappu, funding for sustained long-term research has been the key to this study and they will continue to raise funds to maintain their search for the right answers to this new discovery.