Ancient Mariners: Did Neanderthals Sail to Mediterranean?
Interesting article suggesting ‘human’ remains found on distant islands may have been a result of paleolithic hominid exploration.
‘Recently, research has hinted that seafarers may have made their way out to the Mediterranean islands even earlier, long before the Neolithic, and not only to isles close to the mainland, but to more distant ones as well, such as Crete.
For instance, stone artifacts on the southern Ionian Islands hint at human sites there as early as 110,000 years ago. Investigators have also recovered quartz hand-axes, three-sided picks and stone cleavers from Crete that may date back about 170,000 years ago. The distance of Crete about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the mainland would have made such a sea voyage no small feat.
The exceedingly old age of these artifacts suggests the seafarers who made them might not even been modern humans, who originated between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago. Instead, they might have been Neanderthals or perhaps even Homo erectus…
… Although the idea that extinct human lineages possessed such advanced mental capabilities might be controversial, ancient seafaring has been seen elsewhere in the world. For instance, Australia was colonized at least 50,000 years ago, while fossils in Indonesia suggest that an extinct lineage of humans was seafaring as long ago as 1.1 million years.
“If the ancient finds in the Mediterranean can be verified, they will show that Homo erectus or Neanderthals or both had the skills and cognitive ability to build boats and navigate them,” Simmons said.’
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