Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Seafarers may have been around much earlier than we thought

The Daily Mail reports that discoveries in Crete suggest that our perspective on early human exploration may have to be radically amended.

Archaeologists have discovered a set of tools they believe prove that man sailed the sea tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

Rough axes and other tools thought to be between 130,000 and 700,000 years old were found close to shelters on the south coast of the Mediterranean island of Crete.

Crete has been separated from the mainland of Greece for about five million years, so whoever made the tools must have travelled there by sea, a distance of at least 40 miles.

The previous earliest evidence was of sea travel was 60,000 years ago; in Greece it was 11,000 years ago.

The findings upset the current view that human ancestors migrated to Europe from Africa by land alone.

The Greek Culture Ministry said in a statement yesterday: 'The results of the survey not only provide evidence of sea voyages in the Mediterranean tens of thousands of years earlier than we were aware of so far, but also change our understanding of early hominids' cognitive abilities.'

There's more at the link.

This is very important news. If it can be proved that these tools are associated with seafaring, and that the purported dates are correct, it'll lead to a wholesale re-evaluation of the dates at which various civilizations emerged along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Our whole perspective on ancient history may have to be substantially altered. This should keep archaeologists hard at work for decades to come!

I do love it when new discoveries throw a monkey-wrench or two into the gears of accepted academic consensus . . .


1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Oh yeah, this is going to upset the historical applecart :-)