Recent archaeological discoveries in Turkey suggest that our ancient ancestor migrated from Europe to Asia earlier than what was previously assumed.
What would appear to be an ordinary and mundane shard of stone to the untrained eye, is what could be considered to be a scientific breakthrough to archaeologists. This simple shard of quartzite, that was discovered by researchers, shows signs that ancient man deliberately shaped and honed the flake into a portable, sharp cutting tool. Although the ancient relic, which is believed to be the oldest example of hand-made tools, in itself can be viewed as a monument to our great ancestors engineering, the most remarkable aspect of this stone tool is the location that it was discovered in.
The river Gediz, in western Turkey, has been a staple in European civilization for millenniums. It has been the dividing line of empires, a source of food and water, a means of passage into the Aegean Sea, among many other countless attributes. It was this river’s muddy banks that produced the artifact, leaving factual evidence, that thousands of years ago ancient man traversed the river and gained passage between the continents of Europe and Asia, long before scientists theorized the era of their migration.
Although this pocket-sized tool was small in stature, it was discovered by a massive international effort, a conglomeration of countries worked together to find and date the artifact. In fact, the researchers hailed from the Royal Halloway, University of London, Turkey, and the Netherlands. Together, these archaeologists used extremely technical, high precision equipment to date deposits of earth, on the banks of the Gediz river.
In the research published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, professor Danielle Schreve, from the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, stated:
“This discovery is critical for establishing the timing and route of early human dispersal into Europe. Our research suggests that the flake is the earliest securely-dated artifact from Turkey ever recorded and was dropped on the floodplain by an early hominin well over a million years ago.”
With the aid of high-precision radioisotopic dating as well as paleomagnetic measurements of lava flows, that occurred before and after the natural creation of the river bank where the tool was discovered, the scientists were able to establish a timeline, placing early hominin that location approximately 1.24 million and 1.17 million years ago. Other hominin artifacts and fossils had been discovered in Turkey, prior to this recent excavation, in 2007. However, the previous expedition’s results did not yield conclusive radioisotopic dates.