(CTN NEWS) – Archaeologists have discovered the oldest wooden structure ever found, dating back almost half a million years. This discovery suggests that our ancestors may have possessed greater advancements than previously believed.
The remarkably well-preserved wooden structure was excavated at Kalambo Falls, located in northern Zambia near the Tanzanian border.
The structure has been determined to be at least 476,000 years old, predating the existence of Homo sapiens. The wood displays clear cut-marks, indicating the use of stone tools to connect two large logs and construct the structure.
It is presumed to have served as a platform, walkway, or elevated dwelling, designed to keep our ancestors above water. This significant finding was documented in the journal Nature.
Ancient Wooden Tools: Insights into Early Human Wood Usage
At the site, a variety of wooden tools, such as a wedge and a digging stick, were discovered. During this time, the ancestors of humans were already utilizing wood, although its use was primarily limited to activities like fire-starting and hunting.
The Kalambo Falls, located in northern Zambia near the Tanzania border, revealed an exceptionally well-preserved wooden structure. According to a study published in the journal Nature, it dates back at least 476,000 years, predating the emergence of Homo sapiens.
The wood exhibits cut-marks, indicating the use of stone tools to join two large logs, creating a structure believed to have served as a platform, walkway, or raised dwelling to keep our ancestors above water.
Larry Barham, the lead author of the study and an archaeologist at the University of Liverpool in the UK, stated that, as far as he knows, the previous holder of the record for the oldest wooden structure dated back approximately 9,000 years.
Barham described the discovery of this structure as an unexpected find during excavation work in 2019 at a site situated on the banks of the Kalambo River, just above a 770-foot waterfall.
Unearthing ancient wood remains is uncommon due to its tendency to decay, leaving minimal evidence for historical documentation. Nonetheless, the structure at Kalambo Falls is believed to have been preserved over the centuries as a result of the high water level.
While previous excavations at the Kalambo site in the 1950s and 1960s uncovered some wood, it was not possible to accurately determine its age.
Revealing Ancient Ingenuity: A Remarkable Discovery through Luminescence Dating
In a groundbreaking archaeological find, researchers have employed an innovative dating technique known as luminescence dating to unveil the age of a remarkable wooden structure.
This revelation has reshaped our understanding of ancient human history, pushing back the timeline significantly.
A Surprising Antiquity: Dating the Structure to 476,000 Years Ago
Utilizing luminescence dating, the researchers have determined that the age of the discovered wooden structure dates back an astonishing 476,000 years. This discovery challenges previously held notions about the capabilities of ancient societies.
Tracing Ancestral Footprints: Homo Heidelbergensis and Homo Sapiens
While the earliest evidence of Homo sapiens places their existence around 300,000 years ago, fossils of their predecessors, Homo heidelbergensis, believed to have lived between 700,000 to 200,000 years ago, have been found in the same region.
Barham, one of the study’s researchers, highlights this crucial contextual information.
A Paradigm Shift: Rethinking Ancient Human Innovation
The unearthing of this wooden structure has fundamentally transformed our perception of these ancient people. Barham expressed his perspective, noting how it has altered his understanding.
These ancient individuals demonstrated a remarkable ability to manipulate their environment for improved daily life, as exemplified by the construction of a riverside platform for their daily tasks.
Harnessing Intelligence and Craftsmanship: Creating the Unprecedented
Barham further emphasized that these ancient people harnessed their intelligence, imagination, and craftsmanship to create something entirely new and previously unseen.
This discovery underscores the ingenuity and adaptability of early human societies, challenging conventional wisdom about their capabilities.
The application of luminescence dating in this study has not only provided a precise timeline for the wooden structure but has also opened new avenues for exploring the depths of our ancient past and the remarkable achievements of our ancestors.
Ancient Structure Challenge Nomadic Ancestry Theory
This implies a level of abstract thinking and, in all likelihood, the development of language,” he added.
Sophie Archambault de Beaune, an archaeologist at Lyon 3 University in France not connected to the study, noted that the structure “presumes cognitive abilities such as planning and the capacity to envision the finished product.”
She acknowledged that similar capabilities had been inferred from the study of cut stone tools.
Furthermore, the study’s authors suggest that this discovery challenges the notion that our early ancestors were nomadic, as the structure appears to be a permanent dwelling near the waterfalls, which offered a consistent source of water.
However, Archambault de Beaune cautioned that this hypothesis has yet to be definitively confirmed, as the structure could have been installed for a particular season rather than as a permanent settlement.
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