Tools were found on Crete! Neanderthals may have crossed the seas thousands of years before modern humans, researchers say
- Discoveries of tools dating back 130,000 years are evidence of early sea travel
- Tools were found in Crete, which separated from mainland 5 million years ago
- In recent years, ancient tools have been found in several other islands as well
- Suggests human ancestors had cognitive and technological means for sea travel
Modern humans may not have been the first travelers to cross the seas.
Mounting evidence discovered in recent years suggests Stone Age mariners may have hopped from island to island throughout the Mediterranean more than 130,000 years ago – and, this may even have included Neanderthals.
While it’s long been thought that Bronze Age people were the first to become seafarers, stone tools and bones found throughout Eurasia suggest others had them beat by thousands of years, according to Science magazine.
Mounting evidence discovered in recent years suggests Stone Age mariners may have hopped from island to island throughout the Mediterranean as far back as 130,000 years ago – and, this may even have included Neanderthals (artist’s impression)
The discovery of tools on islands such as Crete has upended the long-held notion that modern humans were the first to venture off land.
Prior to recent archaeological findings, the oldest evidence of purposeful sea travel in the region stood at around 10,000 years old.
While human ancestors are known to have traveled across deep water over a million years ago in Indonesia, and modern humans crossed waters to reach Australia about 65,000 years ago, it’s thought that this may not have been intentional, according to Science.
In 2011, however, archaeologists in Greece announced the discovery of axes and other tools on the south coast of Crete thought to be between 130,000 and 700,000 years old.
But, Crete has been separate from the mainland of Greece for roughly 5 million years.