February 23, 2024

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Wood found in Zambia defies the era of development – DW – 09/21/2023

Wood found in Zambia defies the era of development – DW – 09/21/2023

Archaeologists working near Kalambo Falls in Zambia have claimed that a wooden structure found in Zambia in 2019 is the oldest in the world.

The structure is embedded in clay and further preserved by a high water table, made of willow tree trunks, and was deliberately created about 476,000 years ago, scientists said in a study published on Wednesday.

And more: the well-preserved structure was created before the arrival of homo sapiens, Which, according to archaeologists, indicates a much greater cognitive ability than was previously attributed to these ancient ancestors.

The oldest known wooden structure before the discovery was announced in Zambia was only 9,000 years old. The oldest known wooden artifact discovered in Israel is a piece of a slab that is 780,000 years old.

Find this evolution progress

Larry Parham, an archaeologist at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, told AFP that the structure, located above a 235-meter-high waterfall on the banks of the Kalambo River in Zambia, was discovered by chance in 2019.

Barham was the lead author of the paper describing the new conclusions about the discovery In the scientific journal Nature.

“The structure would have supported a raised walkway or platform above the seasonally wet surroundings,” Barham said. “The platform could have had multiple purposes, including storing firewood, tools, food and as a base to place a hut on.”

Ancestors of sedentary people

Barham added: “Not only did the work require great skill, appropriate tools and planning, but the effort expended indicates that the creators remained in place for long periods, while we have always had a model of the Stone Age inhabitants as nomads.”

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“Using wood in this way suggests that the cognitive capacity of these early humans was greater than we thought based on stone tools alone,” Barham says. Scientists also discovered several wooden tools from the same period at the site, despite their claims No skeletal remains were discovered.

An archaeologist discovered part of the structure dating back nearly half a million yearsPhoto: Larry Barham/AP/Image Alliance

Homo heidelbergensis, smarter than it seems

Scientist Barham suggested that the structure, which “involves the deliberate shaping of two trees to create a frame of two interlocking supports,” may have been created by a species that lived between 700,000 and 200,000 years ago known as Homo heidelbergensis.

This species had a larger forehead, larger skull, and flatter face than previous human species.

Barham told Agence France-Presse that excavations Homo heidelbergensis In the region.

The oldest Homo sapiens fossils known to date were found in Morocco and have been determined to be approximately 300,000 years old.

Wood last saw sunlight half a million years ago

Although wooden artifacts were first discovered at the site in the 1950s and 1960s, scientists at the time were unable to accurately determine their age.

Archaeologists working on the current specimens used so-called luminescence dating, a new technique that determines age by measuring the last time minerals were exposed to sunlight.

This discovery “changed the way I thought about these people,” Barham said. “They transformed their environment to make life easier, even if it was just by creating a platform to sit on the banks of the river and do their daily tasks.”

“They used their intelligence, imagination and skills to create something they had never seen before, something that had never existed before.”

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L (AFP – Reuters)