Greece’s oldest archaeological site has been discovered by an international research team. It dates back to 700,000 years ago and is linked to the ancestors of modern humans. The site is part of a five-year investigation of five sites in the Megalopolis area, and its discovery pushes the origin of Greek archaeology back by 250,000 years.
Megalopolis has always fascinated archaeologists and historians. Located in the southern Peloponnese peninsula, this area is renowned for sites like Mycenae and Olympia which have offered valuable knowledge about the ancient Greek civilization. Now, a new archaeological discovery has brought new insights into ancient Greece.
The researchers found primitive stone tools from the Lower Palaeolithic era, estimated to be approximately 3.3 million to 300,000 years old. Furthermore, the site also yielded remains of long-extinct species that used to live in the area in ancient Greece such as giant deer, elephants, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and a macaque monkey.
“The five new sites found in the Megalopolis preserve cultural and faunal remains in stratigraphic context and offer a unique opportunity to investigate human behavior for an important period in the history of human evolution and in an area that has so far been little investigated,” a press statement from Greece Culture Ministry reads.
A new archaeological site
Resembling sharp stone flakes, the discovered stone tools are thought to be remnants of the Lower Paleolithic stone tool industry. Although it is possible that Homo antecessor — a hominin species found in other parts of Europe during that period — produced these tools, archaeologists have yet to find telltale fossils.
The tools, presumed to be used for butchering animals and processing wood or plant matter, were crafted about 700,000 years ago. Ongoing analyses now aim to improve the dating accuracy and reveal further details. The researchers told AP the finding is very important in itself, not just because of being the oldest archaeological site.
In another excavation site within the Megalopolis area, the researchers uncovered the oldest Middle Paleolithic remains discovered in Greece, dating back about 280,000 years. This indicates that Greece likely had a relevant influence on the development of stone industries across Europe, consolidating its status as a hub of ancient civilization.
“We are very excited to be able to report this finding, which demonstrates the great importance of our region for understanding hominin migrations to Europe and for human evolution in general,” the three lead researchers told AP.
“It’s an important and very early site that allows us to move far back the age of the first tools in Greece.”
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