Herodotus Returns

Further Evidence of Ancient Seafarers on Crete
February 17, 2010, 8:22 am
Filed under: Ancient Mariners, Greece

The recent evidence of Stone Age mariners on Crete has reached the New York Times. Stone tools found on the Greek island of Crete show that human ancestors were going to sea much earlier than anyone had realized. A series of stone axes has been tentatively dated at 130,000 years, but could be older than that.  The implications of the find dramatically change our perceptions of prehistoric man’s seafaring capabilities. I posted an earlier article about the find a few weeks ago and have to say I’m pleased that this reached mainstream news.

Crete has been an island for more than five million years, meaning that the toolmakers must have arrived by boat. So this seems to push the history of Mediterranean voyaging back more than 100,000 years, specialists in Stone Age archaeology say. Previous artifact discoveries had shown people reaching Cyprus, a few other Greek islands and possibly Sardinia no earlier than 10,000 to 12,000 years ago….

The standard hypothesis had been that Acheulean toolmakers reached Europe and Asia via the Middle East, passing mainly through what is now Turkey into the Balkans. The new finds suggest that their dispersals were not confined to land routes. They may lend credibility to proposals of migrations from Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain. Crete’s southern shore where the tools were found is 200 miles from North Africa.

See the rest of the article here.


Signs of Ancient Egyptian mariners
January 13, 2010, 7:34 am
Filed under: Ancient Mariners, Egypt | Tags: ,

An ongoing dig along the Red Sea in Egypt has revealed remnants of a largely undocumented aspect of ancient Egyptian culture: sea-faring.

Boston University archeologist Kathryn Bard and her colleagues are uncovering the oldest remnants of seagoing ships and other relics linked to exotic trade with a mysterious Red Sea realm called Punt.

“They were the space launches of their time,’’ Bard said of the epic missions to procure wondrous wares.

Although Nile River craft are well-known, the ability of ancient Egyptian mariners to ply hundreds of miles of open seas in cargo craft was not so fully documented.

More on the story here, plus an article from National Geographic that recounts a 2006 dig for ancient sea-going ships in the same area. [Image: National Geographic].