Archaeologists from around the world have been working on an excavation in a deep coal mine in southern Greece for more than five years. Finally, the find that was made proved to be extremely important and rare. It dates back 700,000 years and is related to the distant ancestors of modern humans and Neanderthals.
Although older hominin sites have been found elsewhere in Europe, and the oldest, in Spain, dates back more than a million years, the find in southern Greece is one of the oldest.
The excavation takes place on a plain where coal for the local power plant had been mined for decades. During Paleolithic times, there was a shallow lake here. The remains of an extinct species of giant deer, elephants, hippos, rhinoceroses, and macaws have already been found. The artifacts are “simple tools such as sharp stone splinters belonging to the Lower Paleolithic stone tool industry,” archaeologists report.
Archaeologists believe the tools were made by Homo antecessor, a species of hominin that inhabited Europe during this period. Homo antecessor is thought to have been the last common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals, who diverged about 800,000 years ago.
Tools were probably used for cutting up animals, working wood and minerals. They were probably made about 700,000 years ago, although the researchers said they are awaiting further analyses to refine the dating.
The area has long been known as a source of fossils. In ancient Greece, the huge prehistoric bones excavated here may have been one of the sources of myths about an extinct race of giants who fought the gods of Olympus.
Modern scientists continue to study the findings and draw conclusions about ancient hominids. As noted by experts, this find confirms the theory that ancient hominids used simple tools to survive and adapt to the environment. It also allows us to better understand the evolution of mankind and its ancestors.