(ORDO NEWS) — Greek researchers from the University of Patras have found evidence that the extinct ancestors of modern humans could have sailed the Mediterranean almost half a million years ago.
The Aegean Sea, located between modern Greece and Turkey, was one of the great cradles of Antiquity. Warm waters, abundance of fish and many islands have attracted people for thousands of years.
And now researchers from the University of Patras (Greece) have found evidence that 450 thousand years ago, human ancestors could make sea voyages in this region.
Most anthropologists believe that during periods of glaciation, the water level of the Aegean Sea dropped enough to form temporary land bridges between the islands.
On such bridges, it was not difficult for land animals, including human ancestors, to cross strait after strait, settling on the current islands. But what if, in fact, there were no bridges?
To find out, the researchers decided to check to what extent the water level in the Aegean Sea has fallen over the past few hundred thousand years.
They analyzed sea level markers in river deltas across the study area and found that during the ice ages it dropped between 152 and 225 meters below its current value.
After that, it remains to compare how deep sections of the bottom separate the islands and the mainland. It turned out that even extremely low sea levels would not be enough to keep your feet from getting wet.
So, in order to get to the islands and leave traces of their stay there, now found by archaeologists, ancient people had to set sail.
So far, scientists cannot say what kind of people swam the Aegean from island to island (due to their close location, navigational instruments were not needed to find the next piece of land).
However, finds in Greece at the time suggest that they were the Heidelberg people, or even their descendants, the early Neanderthals.
The results of the work clarify the ways of the settlement of ancient people in the Mediterranean and give reason to assume that when our ancient ancestors, people of the modern type, left Africa and moved towards Europe, they walked not only by land, but also by sea.
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