Archaeologists have discovered a wooden structure built by pre-Sapiens carpenters. The world’s oldest wooden structure, unearthed at Kalambo Falls in Zambia, dates back at least 476,000 years.
Analysis of stone tool cut marks on the wood shows that these early humans shaped and joined two large logs to create a structure that was probably the foundation of a platform or part of a dwelling.
Wood normally decays and disappears, but the high water levels at Kalambo Falls have preserved this structure. The discovery, made by a team from the University of Liverpool and Aberystwyth University in the UK, also challenges the common view that Stone Age people were nomadic.
The people at Kalambo Falls had a reliable water supply and the forest provided the means for them to settle and build structures.
“This find has changed how I think about our early ancestors,” said Liverpool Professor Larry Barham. “Forget the label ‘Stone Age,’ look at what these people were doing: they made something new, and large, from wood. They used their intelligence, imagination, and skills to create something they’d never seen before, something that had never previously existed. These folks were more like us than we thought.”
Aberystwyth University experts used new luminescence dating techniques that reveal when the minerals in the sand surrounding the finds were last exposed to sunlight.
Prof. Geoff Duller from Aberystwyth Uni said; “The site at Kalambo Falls had been excavated back in the 1960s when similar pieces of wood were recovered, but they were unable to date them, so the true significance of the site was unclear until now.”
The site is on a ‘tentative’ list for designation as a Unesco World Heritage site because of its archaeological importance. The discovery of this find will change that.