Homo erectus is an extinct hominid species. Most scholars consider it a direct African ancestor of Homo sapiens or perhaps, a separate species that originated in Asia. Popular opinion holds they were unintelligent cave-dwellers. But recent discoveries promise to rewrite those views. Did Homo erectus conquer the seas? Were they ancient mariners?
Until recently, researchers believed that man first crossed the Mediterranean Sea around 12,000 B.C. But according to the Daily Mail, archaeologists now think that “man was crossing the Mediterranean Sea from northern Africa at least 130,000 years ago – more than 100,000 years earlier than previously thought.”
Holy smokes! That’s quite a change. So what brought it about? In 2008-2009, a team led by archaeologist Thomas Strasser discovered stone tools predating Homo sapiens on Crete, an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Since Crete has been an island for many millennia, prehistoric people would’ve had to cross the the Mediterranean to reach it. In other words, they had to be ancient mariners.
Ancient Mariners on Crete?
Crete’s unique geology aided the dating process. Earthquakes in the region have slowly driven the island upward for eons. This created unique rock formations consisting of ancient beach sand. Some of the tools were discovered within those rock formations.
“We know that the tools are tens of meters above the terrace we dated at 50,000 years old, so we know right off the bat that they have to be at least that old.” ~ Karl Wegmann, Geologist
By studying the higher rock formations in which the tools were found, Wegmann was able to calculate their age at about 130,000 years old.
Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis
And just like that, our knowledge of Homo erectus has changed forever. No longer should we view them as unintelligent, uncreative cave-dwellers. They possessed far greater skills that we ever imagined. For the time being, Homo erectus has earned its place in history as the first of the ancient mariners.