A team of archaeologists and researchers on the Greek island of Crete has made a series of startling discoveries that could shake the foundations of archaeological knowledge far beyond the Mediterranean. Some 30 primitive stone axes have been found in several different sites that resemble Paleolithic tools used in Europe some 175,000 years ago by pre-humans. Citing a paper to be published in June in the Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece - my alma mater - National Geographic relates:
...Crete has been surrounded by vast stretches of sea for some five million years. The discovery of the hand ax suggests that someone besides technologically modern humans—perhaps Neanderthals, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo erectus, or primitive Homo sapiens—island-hopped across the Mediterranean for tens of millennia....
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 picture being developed is that a primitive human ancestor was able to travel by sea over 150,000 years ago - a capacity that has not been suggested before. As Nat Geo further remarks:
It's been thought that the early humans of this time period were not capable of devising boats or even simple rafts—technology considered an expression of modern behavior. Homo sapiens practicing modern behaviors, such as wearing jewelry and making art didn’t begin to appear until around a hundred thousand years ago.
But the new discoveries hint that these human ancestors were capable of much more sophisticated planning, cooperation, and construction—in this case, boatbuilding—than their simple stone tools would suggest.
In addition to this amazing development is the fact stated here by Nat Geo about the Mediterranean Sea having been over 400 feet lower in times when humans could have navigated it. That fact brings up an intriguing question of what could be under the Mediterranean? What archaeological treasures may have been created thousands of years ago, only to be flooded under hundreds of feet of sea?
Indeed, it has been rumored for years that there are submerged ruins ringing the Mediterranean from one or more civilizations long forgotten, perhaps not unlike the evidently manmade remains found off the coast of Okinawa. What is also striking is how much further back paleoanthropologists have pushed the emergence of homo sapiens sapiens over the past several decades, going from some 30,000 years ago to 100,000 to 200,000 and more. What more will be found that reveals the history of mankind on planet Earth is far older and more interesting than we have previously imagined?
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