sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
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.







News - USA and the World



2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Farr 40 Day 4 by William Wagner, San Francisco
































































Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - TP52 fleet ready for tricky race tracks
Rolex Big Boat Series - Plenty maintains lead
2014 Asia Pacific Student Cup - Count down begins
Extreme Sailing Series: Live coverage of Day 3 - view here
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Going away
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Practice makes perfect
2014 J/70 World Championship - Contrasting conditions on Day 4
Rolex Big Boat Series - 50 years of big boat racing: a retrospective
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Day 2
Snipe Western Hemisphere and Orient Champ: Rios takes the Championship
Volvo Ocean Race: Leg Zero signals start of the significant racing
Extreme Sailing Series: Physically demanding racing for BAR on Day 2
Emirates Team NZ: Holding second overall after Day 2 in Istanbul
Extreme Sailing Series: A force to be reckoned with in Istanbul +Video
ISAF Sailing Worlds - Day 1 images by Jesus Renedo and Pedro Martinez
Marseille One Design: GC32's Armin Strom storms ahead on day 2 + Video
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Racing underway in Santander +Video
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Erika Reineke claims Radial race win
Santander Worlds 2014 Mat Belcher (Part II) *Feature
Rolex Swan Cup - Mistral keeps fleet shoreside
PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup rescued by wave of local support   
ISAF Sailing World Championship, Santander - Opening ceremony images   
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Team Alvimedica geared up for Leg Zero   
J/70 World Championship 2014 - Healy surfs into lead   
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Day 1   
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Gripping first day on the Bay   
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Day 1 images by Erik Simonson   
2014 Snipe Western Hemisphere and Orient Championship - Day 4   
Rolex Big Boat Series - Familiar conditions on day 1   
Extreme Sailing Series: Team NZ share lead after Day 1 in Istanbul   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Thousands attend Santander opening   
Rolex Swan Cup - Day 2 images by Carlo Borlenghi   
GC32: Great Cup: Day 1, Foils, flying and an unstoppable Flavio   
Rolex Swan Cup - Classic day of racing on the Costa Smeralda   
Extreme Sailing Series - Pushed to the limit and dismasted on Day 1   
Volvo Ocean Race - A profile of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing   
J/70 World Championship - Day 2 images by Chris Howell   
Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 - Lego Zero crisis scenarios loom   
America's Cup: Bob Fisher on the state of the Cup   
Interview with West Coast International Canoe pioneer Del Olsen: Video   


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  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-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 NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT