News Home Video Gallery Newsletters Photo Gallery Cruising Int
Sail-World.com : Sailing the Oceans - not as modern as we thought
Sailing the Oceans - not as modern as we thought

'Were they sailors as well?'    .

Leisure sailing as we know it may have begun a mere 150 years ago or so, but researchers across the world are now becoming more and more convinced that Neanderthals, or even older homo erectus, knew how to cross seas and oceans by boat.

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.

In March this year, George Ferentinos of the University of Patras in Greece said we can rule out the former. The islands, he said, have been cut off from the mainland for as long as the tools have been on them.

Ferentinos compiled data that showed sea levels were 120 metres lower 100,000 years ago, because water was locked up in Earth's larger ice caps. But the seabed off Greece today drops down to around 300 metres, meaning that when Neanderthals were in the region, the sea would have been at least 180 metres deep (Journal of Archaeological Science, DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.01.032).

Ferentinos thinks Neanderthals had a seafaring culture for tens of thousands of years. Modern humans are thought to have taken to the seas just 50,000 years ago, on crossing to Australia.

The journeys to the Greek islands from the mainland were quite short - 5 to 12 kilometres - but according to Thomas Strasser of Providence College in Rhode Island, the Neanderthals didn't stop there. In 2008 he found similar stone tools on Crete, which he says are at least 130,000 years old. Crete has been an island for some 5 million years and is 40 kilometres from its closest neighbour - suggesting far more ambitious journeys.

Strasser agrees Neanderthals were seafaring long before modern humans, in the Mediterranean at least. He thinks early hominins made much more use of the sea than anyone suspects, and may have used the seas as a highway, rather than seeing them as a barrier. But the details remain lost in history. Any craft were presumably made from wood, so rotted away long ago. The oldest known Mediterranean boat, a dugout canoe from Lake Bracciano in Italy, is just 7000 years old. Ferentinos speculates that Neanderthals may have made something similar.

New Study:
Now there is a new study from Washington that agrees: This study has provided new evidence which suggests that 'Upright Man' might have sailed around the Mediterranean, stopping at islands such as Crete and Cyprus.

Other evidence outside of the Mediterranean supports that pre-Neolithic humans could sail. Researchers have pointed out that these individuals 'must have been able to cross substantial expanses of sea to reach Australia by at least 50,000 years ago.

'Additionally, findings from the Indonesian Wallacea islands suggest the presence of hominins as early as 1.1 million years ago on Flores Island.'

'They had to have had boats of some sort; unlikely they swam,' Discovery News quoted Alan Simmons, lead author of a study about the find, as writing in this week’s Science.

'Many of the islands had no land-bridges, thus they must have had the cognitive ability to both build boats and know how to navigate them,' he added.

Simmons, a professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, added that there is no direct evidence for boats dating back to over 100,000 years ago. If they were built then, the wood or other natural materials likely eroded.

However, other clues hint that modern humans may not have been the first to set foot on Mediterranean islands.

On Crete, for example, tools such as quartz hand-axes, picks and cleavers are associated with deposits that may date to 170,000 years ago.

Excavations at an Akrotiri site on Cyprus have turned up ancient thumbnail scrapers and other tools dating to beyond 9,000 years ago. There is also a huge assembly of fossils for a dwarf pygmy hippopotamus, which might have been a good food for the earlier islanders. It’s possible they hunted the small, plump animal to extinction.

'Conventional wisdom used to be that none of these islands had too much settlement prior to the Neolithic because the islands were too impoverished to have supported permanent occupation. This likely is untrue. Hunters and gatherers can be pretty creative,' Simmons said.

Thomas Strasser, an associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Providence College, told Discovery that he believes 'future research will confirm recent discoveries that hominids reached the Mediterranean islands when they first left Africa. I believe the Homo erectus radiation out of Africa was both terrestrial and maritime.'

Letter from Reader:
Sender: kim Klaka

Message: Article states''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.'

I suggest there is a third possibility: the tools were developed independently and simultaneously at the two locations. This happens a lot with technology, even today. I have seen it occur several times in my profession and is simply the result of similarly trained people being exposed to new materials or concepts.


by Sail-World Cruising round-up

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=103893

9:10 PM Sun 18 Nov 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.








Cruising USA











4.8 million Legos all at sea by Adam Clark Estes,




Dredging activity near corals can increase frequency of diseases by ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies,




Understanding the Ocean's role in Greenland Glacier melt by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI),




Three Defensive Docking Strategies for Sailors by Captain John Jamieson, Florida


Revealing report on Search for American yacht Nina released *Feature by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team,














Baby Nemos finding their way home by ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies,










The real ‘Supermoon’ story by Sail-world.com,




Sailor rescued after Facebook call for rescue by RNLI/Sail-World Cruising,










The Galley Guys' favourite shrimp recipe by Andy Adams and John Armstrong,




BoatUS speaks out about 'Ethanol-at-all-cost Agenda'
Tidal current installations will increase boating hazards
Eco-Sailboat of the future - Catherine Chabaud at work
Calling yachts in the South Pacific - rally to New Zealand
The final touch - which wax should I use on my boat?
ARC Baltic sets sail to discover Europe's 'east sea'
Another boom death. Australian sailor dies, hit by swinging boom
Galley Guru vital to the life of the cruising sailor
'Boat Handling in Marinas' by Rob Gibson - and how to get it reliably
Heart-stopping moment as whale capsizes Zodiac
If we stop killing parrotfish we can bring back Caribbean coral reefs
Climate change could stop fish finding their friends
Vanuatu ups their welcome to cruising sailors with new approach
Criminal charges mooted for owners of sunk HMS Bounty
Red faces after authorities inadvertently aid boat thief to get away
Mobiles drive traffic - 72% increase in Sail-World.com page view *Feature
Sail Estonia: a VERY new idea
Tie This 'Lifesaving' Bowline in Seconds - the easy way!
A Beer Bummel on the Thames River
Online weather routing - possible? Predict Wind says yes
Why Boats Sink: Ten best tips on prevention   
The North West Passage calls: Who will answer this year?   
Polish adventure sailor in second try at North West Passage   
Whale research - new techniques expand for non-lethal methods   
Jessica Watson, solo sailing star, four years on...   
Americas solo non-stop circumnavigator crosses Pacific for research   
What is an El Niño and how will it affect my sailing? (Part 1)   
The Dinghy Nav Light Solution- a brilliantly dumb idea   
Spike in water temperatures evidence of ‘irreversible’ El Nino *Feature   
Sailing crew's battle to save yacht lost in the Indian Ocean   
Five Top Tips for selecting the best boatyard   
Tips for selecting the best boatyard   
Predictwind unlocks more features on free accounts   
Composite Rigging launches new campaign for ECsix   
When is a Captain not a Captain?   
Free app for managing your yacht   
Amazing MOB survival - 13 hours floating, rescued by fishermen   
Boater hit by lightning survives: 'It was the worst pain ever'   
Inauguration of the new Yacht Club Monaco - Images by Carlo Borlenghi   
Lessons for sailing clubs - how does YOURS rate?   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News








Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL WAS Cru USA
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT