Half a million years ago, much earlier than previously thought, humankind was using wood to build structures, according to a new study. The research speaks of well-preserved wood carvings at the archaeological site of Kalambo Falls in Zambia, which date back at least 476,000 years and pre-date human evolution. Homo sapiens.
The researchers said stone tool cut marks on the wood show that early humans shaped and joined two pieces of wood to create a structure, likely the foundation of a platform. This is the earliest evidence of deliberate crafting of logs to fit each other, as evidence of human use of wood was limited to its use to make fire, sticks and spears.
Wood is rarely found in ancient sites because it usually rots and disappears. However, the permanently high water levels at Kalambo Falls have preserved this precious specimen. This finding also challenges the view that Stone Age humans were nomads. In Kalambo, these humans had a constant source of water and enough food to settle and build permanent structures.
“This discovery has changed the way I think about our early ancestors. Forget the ‘Stone Age’ label, and look at what these people were doing: They were making something new and big out of wood. They were using their intelligence,” Larry Parham, one of the study’s authors, said in a press release. “And their imagination and skills to create something they’ve never seen before.”
Ancient and mysterious wood
The wood found in Zambia was too old to be directly dated using radiocarbon techniques. Instead, researchers at the University of Liverpool and Aberystwyth University used a technique called… Dating scintillationWhich uses the last time minerals in sand near finds were exposed to sunlight to determine their age.
This method allows researchers to go back in time and gives “a glimpse into human evolution,” Jeff Dowler, one of the study’s authors, said in a press release. Using scintillation dating, Dowler found that the structure was 476,000 years old. They also dated four wooden tools found in the area (such as the wedge) to be 324,000 years old.
Researchers do not know which ancient human species made the structure and tools, but this is unlikely to be the case Homo sapiens. The oldest fossils of Homo sapiens They have been found to date about 300,000 years ago and were found in faded Israel He told CNN. He believes that the people who made the structure were cognitively sophisticated and it would be very interesting to know who built this.
Kalambo Falls is located on kalambu river, Above a 235-metre-high waterfall on the border between Zambia and the Rukwa region of Tanzania, on the edge of Lake Tanganyika. The area is nominated to become UNESCO World Heritage Site Because of its archaeological importance. It was first excavated in 1960 by Professor John Clarke.
“Our research proves that this site is much older than previously thought, and therefore its archaeological importance is now even greater. It adds greater weight to the argument that it should be a UN World Heritage Site, with the hope that discoveries in the area will continue in the future,” Doller said in a press release. coming years.
The study was published in Nature magazine.
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