Greek and foreign archaeologists have traced the earliest evidence of seafaring in tools dating back to 130,000 years ago during excavations on Crete island, the Greek Culture Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
In over a century of systematic archaeological research on the southern Greek island, scientists had not found evidence that Crete was inhabited before the Neolithic period (7,000-3,000 B.C.).
Recent findings of an excavation at Plakias- Preveli near the city of Rethymnon, which started in 2008 by a research team led by Thomas Strasser of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and Eleni Panagopoulou of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Tourism, show that Crete was inhabited as early as the Palaeolithic period.
Noting that even 130,000 years ago Crete was an island, archaeologists present the tools found as evidence that the ancestors of modern man sailed earlier than we thought so far.
Scientists believe that the handaxes and cleavers found at Plakias-Preveli were made by Homo heidelbergensis and Homo erectus, who boated across many miles of open sea to reach the island.
"This discovery not only adds tens of thousands of years to the history of sea faring in the Mediterranean, but it also changes our understanding of how early hominins left Africa. We must now appreciate that pre-Homo sapiens had cognitive abilities superior to what scholars previously imagined" said the statement released.
The survey in Plakias-Preveli has been listed in the Top 10 Discoveries of 2010 of Archaeology Magazine of the Archaeological Institute of America.
Xuequan, Mu.2011. "Archaeologist discover earliest evidence of seafaring in Crete". Xinhua News. Posted: January 6, 2011. Available online: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/sci/2011-01/06/c_13678079.htm