Ancient Proto-Humans Traveled to Europe In Boats 130,000 Years Ago

Archaeologists have discovered hand axes in Crete that were made roughly 130,000 years ago, most likely by homo erectus, an ancient hominid species from Africa. And evidence is mounting that these proto-humans got from Africa to Crete in boats.

Until scientists presented these findings at the American Institute of Archaeology last week, historians believed that the first humans to occupy Crete, an island off the shore of Greece, settled there about 9,000 years ago. Now it seems that humans were not the first intelligent hominids to live on the island. The axes are very similar to flake tools made of stone that have been found in Africa and attributed to homo erectus. Except the axes in Crete are made from materials available only in the immediate region, suggesting a large local population that stayed for many generations. Or possibly many generations of homo erectus used Crete as a stopping-off point on the long boat journey from Africa to Europe.

Either way, we've got further evidence that humans were not the first species to use boats in the quest to seek out new lands. According to Science News:

"We're just going to have to accept that, as soon as hominids left Africa, they were long-distance seafarers and rapidly spread all over the place," [archaeologist Thomas] Strasser says. The traditional view has been that hominids (specifically, H. erectus) left Africa via land routes that ran from the Middle East to Europe and Asia. Other researchers have controversially suggested that H. erectus navigated rafts across short stretches of sea in Indonesia around 800,000 years ago and that Neandertals crossed the Strait of Gibraltar perhaps 60,000 years ago.

Now it seems we have some evidence that homo erectus did navigate rafts, though possibly only about 130 thousand years ago instead of 800.

via Science News