Cretan tools point to 130,000-year-old sea travel

Jan 03, 2011
An picture provided by the Greek Ministry of Culture shows stone tools found on Crete. Greek and American archaeologists on the island say the tools, which they believe are at least 130,000 years old, show that early humans could navigate across open water thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

Greece's culture ministry says archaeologists on the island of Crete have discovered what may be evidence of one of the world's earliest sea voyages by humans.

A ministry statement says from Greece and the U.S. have found rough and other tools thought to be between 130,000 and 700,000 years old in shelters on the island's south coast.

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

An undated handout picture provided by the Greek Ministry of Culture shows stone tools found on southwestern Crete island. Archaeologists on the Greek island of Crete have found startling evidence that early humans were capable of navigation at least 130,000 years ago, the Greek culture ministry said.

The previous earliest evidence of open-sea travel in Greece dates back 11,000 years (worldwide, about 60,000 years - although considerably earlier dates have been proposed).

The ministry said Monday it is to conduct a more thorough of the area.

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Gary7
2 / 5 (5) Jan 03, 2011
If the dates prove correct, wouldn't this be before modern humans arrived in Europe? Therefor the tools should have been made by Neanderthals?
plaasjaapie
1.9 / 5 (11) Jan 03, 2011
Yeah, it does except the Israelis have just found modern Homo Sap. teeth dating back 400,000 years BP in Israel. Looks like the "Out of Africa" folks are in for a lot of pain and suffering. Not that they don't deserve it, mind. If you only look for man in Africa you're likely to only find him there. :-)
Pyle
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 03, 2011
Gary7,
Per the recent report on remains found at the site in Israel, our previous estimation of when Ark Fleet Ship B landed was off by a couple hundred thousand years.
Djincs
1 / 5 (3) Jan 03, 2011
And how exactly you can date how old is stone thing, you can date when this stone turn solid from magma, but how you know when it is chissled, erosion?
GSwift7
3.2 / 5 (9) Jan 03, 2011
lol, Gary7, that name is a bit similar to my own, and my first name is Gary. I certainly hope people know that I'm not you.

@Djincs: As far as I know, they have to date the things they dig up next a stone object, so if someone dug a hole and burried those tools, it could throw the age off a bit. I'm guessing that's why they are waiting to dig up more stuff around the area so that they can try to rule out an incorrect age. I believe they look at a number of different factors. In that region, there is likely to be volcanic layers of ash with relatively well-known ages that should help with dates.
Parsec
4.4 / 5 (10) Jan 03, 2011
Yeah, it does except the Israelis have just found modern Homo Sap. teeth dating back 400,000 years BP in Israel. Looks like the "Out of Africa" folks are in for a lot of pain and suffering. Not that they don't deserve it, mind. If you only look for man in Africa you're likely to only find him there. :-)

Mindless dribble. Lack of evidence is not evidence of anything. Finding Homo S. anywhere doesn't mean that older fossils don't exist in Africa, its just that they haven't been found yet. It doesn't mean that I believe the Out of Africa hypothesis, or that the evidence for it is overwhelming by any means. I am complaining about your awesome misunderstanding of science overall.
thales
5 / 5 (9) Jan 03, 2011
It seems awfully unlikely that humans didn't come out of Africa, when pre-human primate fossils are found there.

@ plaasjaapie: I'm curious why you think the "Out of Africa" folks are in for a lot of pain and deserve it.

@ Parsec: I think the word you want there is "drivel".
sstritt
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 03, 2011
Gary7,
Per the recent report on remains found at the site in Israel, our previous estimation of when Ark Fleet Ship B landed was off by a couple hundred thousand years.

Did they find the captain's bath tub yet?
Mandan
4.6 / 5 (9) Jan 03, 2011
The "Out Of Africa" hypothesis is based mostly on genetic evidence and states a very specific hypothesis that involves the appearance of modern H. sapiens withing the past 200,000 years or more recently in Africa, and their complete replacement of other non-fully H. sapiens around the globe.

In competition with it is the "Multi-Regional" hypothesis, which does not deny that humans originated in Africa, but rather by invoking more fossil evidence argues that all forms of Homo (erectus, neanderthalesis, etc) continued to evolve towards modern H. sapiens around the Old World in multiple populations connected over large distances through gene flow, rather than a total, recent replacement of the rest by "out of Africa" immigrants arriving quite recently with superior brains, tools, weapons and culture giving them the edge over all the others.

Both accomodate Africa as the continent of ultimate origin of all Homo groups.
fixer
not rated yet Jan 04, 2011
Err people, "Africa" is a political term only a few hundred years old, Israel is quite a bit younger!

200,000 years ago the land mass was significantly larger due to lower sea levels and so easier to access from modern Asia and Europe, in fact they could all be considered the same landmass since no one but a few hunter gatherers lived there to say otherwise!
GaryB
not rated yet Jan 04, 2011
There's a general theme now that modern human skulls have been found earlier and so have associated modern human type activities. IMHO, modern type humans ~0.5M years ago were capable of many technological feats, it just took relatively recent build up of population and density to foist civilization on us.
Skepticus
1 / 5 (2) Jan 04, 2011
oops, reported gary7 by mistake, sorry!
DaveMart
not rated yet Jan 04, 2011
The actual remains of truly human habitation they have discovered, in, for instance, SE Asia, tend to be coastal. The assumption has been that this was con-incidental, and the spread of modern humans was by foot-sloggers.
The least hypothesis however, given any sort of archaeological backing at all, is that they went by boat.
Pyle
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 04, 2011
There's a general theme now that modern human skulls have been found earlier

Where? How did I miss that? I'd seen some pre-Erectus skulls were found, and, I posit, these could be tool users, but nothing "modern". Excepting the Israeli cave dig.

The "Multi-Regional" hypothesis seems flawed in that DNA evidence seems to support a common ancestor came later, so the fossils might suggest lost branches rather than converging streams. I'm sure the last early human fossil hasn't been found yet.

I'm still placing a side bet on Ark Fleet Ship B. The bath tub will tell.
Pyle
2 / 5 (4) Jan 04, 2011
Wow! That didn't come out right...
I meant to say DNA evidence seems to support a common ancestor came earlier, not later.

After looking around some more I see some recent DNA work that suggests that interbreeding with existing European and Asian species may have taken place after the "Out of Africa" homo sapien migration 40-50,000 years ago. This is in contrast to earlier work I was aware of that contended there was no such mixing.

Anyway, I don't see how naval capacity changes the verdict on the "Out of Africa" hypothesis. The fossil record has shown distinct Neanderthal, Erectus, etc. coexisting in areas with the "Out of Africa" homo sapiens.

ormondotvos
1 / 5 (1) Jan 05, 2011
It's possible to accidentally go forty miles on a raft or small dugout canoe. Navigation? Directional, maybe. Winds blow back and forth.

I fail to see the relevance, though. I think it's just headlining, like the Israeli tooth puffery.
mathman141
not rated yet Jan 06, 2011
Before we rush to the conclusion that they made boats to get to Crete, where is the direct evidence? It's purely circumstantial at this point. How do we know these are relics from humans? Were the stone tools buried in rock? If not, then how do we know they weren't brought onto the island later? There is no information here about the dated methods. 130,000-400,000 years is a big range. Dates have been known to be wrong before. How do we know that a few people didn't float to the island on something? Not only does this fly in the face of the once 'established' Out-of-Africa model, it also flies in the face of the theories about the evolution of human intelligence. You are telling me that people from 200,000 (or even before) to 50,000 years ago were highly intelligent but didn't invent writing, cities, etc.? How do we know that during the Weichselian ice age, when the sea levels were lower, that there couldn't have been shallow water (or land) that allowed them to walk there?
mathman141
not rated yet Jan 06, 2011
Actually, people can swim well over 100 miles, so for all we know it was some champion swimmers who went to Crete. Someone was able to swim from Mexico to Cuba. So, why isn't that a possible answer, also?
Paljor
not rated yet Jan 14, 2011
I will give you one reason mathman141.... They most likely didn't even know that the island was there. They probably couldn't even see it from where they were.

As for israel if someone could point me to the article that would be greatly appreciated.
Pyle
1 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2011
Drop this after the news/ in your address bar:

2010-12-world-oldest-human-israel.html

Haven't seen a verification of the dating methods yet.
Paljor
not rated yet Jan 14, 2011
How come they are having so much trouble getting an accurate date or are they just doing repitition?