Studies by the University of Liverpool and Aberystwyth University show that humans were building wooden structures at Kalambo Falls in Zambia 476,000 years ago. The discovery, dated using advanced techniques, highlights early man’s ability to settle and challenges previous ideas about Paleolithic lifestyles.
According to new research by a team from the University of Liverpool and Aberystwyth University, humans were building structures made of wood more than half a million years ago than previously thought.
The research, published in the journal nature, Reports on the excavation of a well-preserved tree at the archaeological site of Kalambo Falls, Zambia, date back at least 476,000 years and predate our own evolution. species, A wise man.
Expert analysis of stone tool cut marks on wood suggests that these early humans shaped and joined two large logs to create a structure, probably the foundation of a site or part of a dwelling.
This is the earliest evidence anywhere in the world of records being deliberately shaped to fit together. Until now, the only evidence of human use of wood is its use for making fire, sticks, and digging spears.
Conservation and Kalambo Falls
The tree is rarely seen at ancient sites because it usually rots and disappears, but the permanently high water levels at Kalambo Falls have preserved the tree.
The discovery challenges the prevailing view that Neolithic humans were nomadic. At Kalambo Falls, not only did these men have an inexhaustible source of water, but the forests around them provided enough food for them to settle and build structures.
Professor Larry Parham, from the University of Liverpool’s Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, leads the ‘Deep Roots of Humanity’ research project:
“This discovery has changed the way I think about our earliest ancestors. Forget the label ‘Stone Age,’ look at what these guys were doing: making something new and bigger out of wood. They were using their intelligence, imagination, and skills to create something they’d never seen before, never existed before. created
“They changed their surroundings to make life easier, even by building a platform where they could sit by the river to do their daily work. These people were more like us than we thought.
Dating the Inventions
Specialist dating of the finds was carried out by experts at Aberystwyth University.
They used new fluorescence dating techniques, which reveal the last time the minerals in the sand surrounding the discovery were exposed to sunlight, to determine their age.
Professor Geoff Tuller from Aberystwyth University said:
“Dating finds at this great age is very challenging, and we used luminescence dating to do this. These new dating methods have far-reaching implications – allowing us to date much further back in time to bring together sites that provide a glimpse into human evolution. The site at Kalambo Falls was excavated in the 1960s, Similar pieces of wood were recovered, but they were unable to date them, so the true significance of the site remained unclear until now.
Archaeological significance of Kalambo Falls
The site of Kalambo Falls on the Kalambo River is a 235-metre (772-ft) waterfall on the edge of Lake Tanganyika on Zambia’s border with Tanzania’s Rukwa Region. The area is on the ‘provisional’ list to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its archaeological importance.
Professor Taller added:
“Our research demonstrates that the site is much older than previously thought, so its archaeological significance is now even greater. This adds further strength to the argument that it should be a United Nations World Heritage Site.
The research is part of the pioneering ‘Deep Roots of Humanity’ project, a study of how human technology developed during the Stone Age. The project was funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council and involved teams from Zambia’s National Heritage Conservation Authority, the Livingstone Museum, the Moto Moto Museum and the National Museum, Lusaka.
Professor Parham added:
“Kalambo Falls is an extraordinary site and a key heritage asset of Zambia. The Deep Roots team looks forward to the exciting discoveries emerging from its submerged sands.
Reference: “Evidence for early structural use of wood at least 476,000 years ago” L. Barham, GAT Duller, I. Candy, C. Scott, CR Cartwright, JR Peterson, C. Kabukcu, MS Chapot, F. Melia, V. Rots, N. George, N. Taipale, P. Gethin and P. Nkombwe, 20 September 2023, Nature.
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