Human seafaring 100,000 years earlier than thought

A dramatic find of stone tools dating to at least 130,000 years ago on the island of Crete has revolutionized assumptions about how long humans have been navigating the seas.

Crete has been surrounded by sea for five million years or so, and no human species evolved independently on the island, so the tools found there have to have been wielded by people who got there by crossing the water.

Many researchers have hypothesized that the early humans of this time period were not capable of devising boats or navigating across open water. But the new discoveries hint that these human ancestors were capable of much more sophisticated behavior than their relatively simple stone tools would suggest.

“I was flabbergasted,” said Boston University archaeologist and stone-tool expert Curtis Runnels. “The idea of finding tools from this very early time period on Crete was about as believable as finding an iPod in King Tut’s tomb.”

Archaeologists went to Crete expecting to find stone tools from 11,000 years or so ago, but instead found stone axes hewn from local quartz that looked much like tools carved by our ancestors — possibly Homo heidelbergensis — in Africa and Europe 175,000 years ago.

They combed the island and found over 30 more of the hand axes, plus some other stone tools from the same time frame at 9 different locations on the coast. As time had moved what were once beaches up from the shore into what are now terraces, the tools moved with them.

Geologists date the earliest of these hand axe-having terraces to 130,000 years ago. The youngest is at least 45,000 years old.

The number, ages and locations of the tools suggest that these weren’t the remnants of the occasional lost-at-sea-clinging-to-a-log castaway. For people to get to Crete repeatedly over a hundred thousand years or so, they had to make a point of it.

Maps of the coastal shelves suggest that even when the Mediterranean reached its lowest known point, plummeting some 440 feet (144 meters) below current sea level, people leaving from Turkey or Greece would have had to make three separate water crossings ranging from 12 to 24 miles (19 to 39 kilometers) each to reach Crete. If, on the other hand, the seafarers departed from Africa, they would have voyaged over 125 miles (200 kilometers) of open water.

“The fact that we have several hundred stone tools in nine different locations suggests that a large enough number of people came in order to sustain the populations and leave a visible archaeological trace,” Runnels said. “That means they didn’t just raft over once.”

This assumes the artifacts are in fact hand axes and that they have been dated correctly, of course. Other archaeologists urge caution in accepting the new data until we have some confirmation, like for instance a Cretan site where the axes might have been produced and duplicated radiocarbon dating results.

Ancient stone tools found on Crete


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Comment by Roy
2010-02-24 11:30:15

See, THIS news should be found on the broadcasting channels in my country… not the celeb-news.

Comment by Joe
2013-06-04 15:55:16

We do know some of the clues like migratory birds, etc the Polynesian mariners used to discover the new places, simply did not get on a raft and got lost!

Its so interesting that in the article none of the “scholars” know that the island of Crete can be seen in clear days from the mountains of Peloponnese and from the mountains of Crete you can see Peloponnese!!

( yes you can see Crete from other islands but before going there don’t you think its better to assume you were on a mainland Greece? )

We do know from the excavations at Franchthi Cave at Peloponnese also cases of ancient mariners, and lately these days were pushed more.

“Our contribution sheds new light on the Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene exploitation of obsidian sources on the island of Melos in the Cyclades reporting dates c. 13th millennium – end of 10th millennium B.P.”

In the Journal of Archaeological Science ( Volume 38, Issue 9, September 2011, Pages 2475-2479 ) with title:

Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene seafaring in the Aegean: new obsidian hydration dates with the SIMS-SS method

By the way take a look at the map, see how close Cyprus is to the mainland and still was inhabited just recently, what happened there?

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that humans standing on the shores of Africa 200 miles away they see I guess only color blue and humans standing on mainland of Peloponnese can see Crete. Guess where the humans in Crete arrived from!

Its so sad to see the stagnation of these “anthropologists”. Probably that does not fit their “algorithms” and excel sheets!

We still live in the dark ages, the earth is no flat but try to say something against “Massive Genetic Study Supports ‘Out of Africa’ Theory.” and see the labels and adjectives that they will attach to you!

Using “advanced” mathematics, algorithms, calibrations and lots of magic like the lipid theory research we have conclude!

Have you read the new DNA study that shows people of Ohio discovered Japan!

How about the new study that proves that all whales are from Titicaca lake before flying to the cold waters with their giant flaps.

We are back to square 1 where “modern” fundamentalist anthropologists replaced the “old” fundamentalists of Eden/Adam/Eve.

How about human life on this planet sprung from many and different places, whats wrong with South America or Asia, there are so many places or we just look for places that had gorillas?

The above bares to so many similarities to the other theories northern Europeans they entertain us with and very nice is described by Wiwjorra, Ingo in “German archaeology and its relation to nationalism and racism’
Using “linguistics” and magic they came up with the Indo-Something theories about a dreamland up in the mountains and the strong desire to come and civilized the rest of Europe and world. Apart of that similarities with the mythical stories of bible is just by accident!! and created more theories of the Indo_something and we know the sad results of that.

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