Were the Neanderthals land-locked? Or did they master the seas as ancient mariners?
Neanderthals: Were they Ancient Mariners?
Recently, researchers discovered Neanderthal-type tools in Greece as well as on several Greek islands. Although they have yet to be dated, they provide some intriguing evidence that Neanderthals crossed the Mediterranean Sea 100,000 years ago. It’s possible the water level was significantly lower back then and the islands were connected to the mainland. It’s also possible Neanderthals swam the distance. Or maybe, just maybe, they built boats and sailed to the islands as ancient mariners. Here’s more on Neanderthals as ancient mariners from New Scientist:
It looks like Neanderthals may have beaten modern humans to the seas. Growing evidence suggests our extinct cousins criss-crossed the Mediterranean in boats from 100,000 years ago – though not everyone is convinced they weren’t just good swimmers.
Neanderthals lived around the Mediterranean from 300,000 years ago. Their distinctive “Mousterian” stone tools are found on the Greek mainland and, intriguingly, have also been found on the Greek islands of Lefkada, Kefalonia and Zakynthos. That could be explained in two ways: either the islands weren’t islands at the time, or our distant cousins crossed the water somehow…
(See New Scientist for more on Neanderthal ancient mariners)