February 8, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Sensation: Aegean seafaring is 450,000 years old

By changing the landscape of the Aegean Islands, a group of researchers led by geologist George Ferentinos from the University of Patras in Greece convincingly proved that ancient people sailed the Mediterranean Sea 450,000 years ago!

And the first navigators were not Homo sapiens, but their archaic ancestors – Homo erectus (upright man), who have learned cross the seas much sooner than scientists thought.

In the course of the study, scientists reconstructed the change in the level of the Mediterranean Sea and the coastline of the Aegean Islands, covering the time period from the ice ages and over the past 450,000 years. Researchers have used ancient river deltas to determine sea levels and sink rates caused by tectonic activity.

At the same time, it was found that the previous reconstructions were incorrect. During the period under review, at its lowest point, the sea level was about 225 m lower than it is now. Some of the Aegean islands at that time were connected to each other, but not so much that they connected with the continent. That is, their settlement by people was possible only by swimming.

And the fact that the archipelago of hundreds of separate plots of land, located between Greece, Turkey and Crete, was inhabited by people, is proved by artifacts found on the islands. Their age is at least 476,000 thousand years, which means that people lived on the islands of the archipelago at that time.

Moreover, the tools found in Lesbos and the Cyclades (Milos, Nyxos, Mykonos) are made in the Acheulean style, which was developed about 1.76 million years ago. Archaeologists associate it with the settlements of Homo erectus in Africa and Asia.

There was a hypothesis that the islands were settled overland when, during the ice ages, the sea level dropped, and the islands were connected to the continental part of Asia and Europe. However, now she refutedthe new reconstruction confirmed that the first navigation appeared much earlier.

The results of this scientific study are consistent with another, which showed that people traveled by sea around Indonesia and the Philippines as early as 700,000 years ago.

Researchers also pay attention to an interesting fact: since ancient people could cross the Aegean Sea, then they probably could also swim across Gibraltar. And this means that the previous conclusions of scientists about the colonization of Western Europe from the east may well turn out to be incorrect, and additional research is needed.

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