Home > Mechanical > World’s Oldest Wooden Structure Is Discovered, Dating Back 476,000 Years

World’s Oldest Wooden Structure Is Discovered, Dating Back 476,000 Years

Archaeologists have discovered what may be the earliest example of carpentry, from almost half a million years ago.

It suggests ancient humans were building wooden structures from tree trunks earlier than previously thought possible.

Researchers found two interlocking logs joined using an intentionally cut notch, along with a collection of wooden tools, at Kalambo Falls in Zambia.

The upper log had been shaped, and tool marks were found on both logs.

Experts believe the early carpenters used the logs to create a raised platform or walkway to keep dry in the periodically wet floodplain.

Significant: Archaeologists have discovered what may be the earliest example of carpentry, from almost half a million years ago. Researchers found two interlocking logs joined using an intentionally cut notch, along with a collection of wooden tools, at Kalambo Falls in Zambia

Significant: Archaeologists have discovered what may be the earliest example of carpentry, from almost half a million years ago. Researchers found two interlocking logs joined using an intentionally cut notch, along with a collection of wooden tools, at Kalambo Falls in Zambia

Scientific analysis: The upper log had been shaped, and tool marks were found on both logs

Scientific analysis: The upper log had been shaped, and tool marks were found on both logs

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The wooden structure, dated to about 476,000 years ago, may represent the earliest use of wood in construction, according to a research paper published in the journal Nature.

Wooden artefacts rarely survive from the Early Stone Age, as they require exceptional conditions not to rot away, but these were preserved by high water levels.

Professor Larry Barham, who led the research paper, from the University of Liverpool, said: ‘This find has changed how I think about our early ancestors.

‘Forget the label “Stone Age” and 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.

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‘They transformed their surroundings to make life easier, even if it was only by making a platform to sit on by the river to do their daily chores.

‘These folks were more like us than we thought.’

Where they were discovered: The wooden structure, dated to about 476,000 years ago and found at Zambia's Kalambo Falls (pictured), may represent the earliest use of wood in construction

Where they were discovered: The wooden structure, dated to about 476,000 years ago and found at Zambia’s Kalambo Falls (pictured), may represent the earliest use of wood in construction

What is means: Professor Larry Barham, who led the research paper, from the University of Liverpool, said: 'This find has changed how I think about our early ancestors'

What is means: Professor Larry Barham, who led the research paper, from the University of Liverpool, said: ‘This find has changed how I think about our early ancestors’

Tool: A flint used to shape the wooden structure was also discovered along with the two logs

Tool: A flint used to shape the wooden structure was also discovered along with the two logs

Clever: The age of the finds was determined by experts at Aberystwyth University, using new luminescence dating techniques. These reveal the last time minerals in the sand surrounding the finds were exposed to sunlight

Clever: The age of the finds was determined by experts at Aberystwyth University, using new luminescence dating techniques. These reveal the last time minerals in the sand surrounding the finds were exposed to sunlight

Previously much of the evidence for the human use of wood was limited to making spears and sticks for digging, or as fuel for fires.

The suggestion it was used to build platforms or the foundations of dwellings challenges the prevailing view that Stone Age humans were nomads.

The age of the finds was determined by experts at Aberystwyth University, using new luminescence dating techniques, which reveal the last time minerals in the sand surrounding the finds were exposed to sunlight.

Professor Geoff Duller, from Aberystwyth University, said: ‘These new dating methods have far-reaching implications – allowing us to date much further back in time, to piece together sites that give us a glimpse into human evolution.’

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE STONE AGE?

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The Stone Age is a period in human prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone tools that covers more than 95 per cent of human technological prehistory.

It begins with the earliest known use of stone tools by hominins, ancient ancestors to humans, during the Old Stone Age – beginning around 3.3million years ago.

Between roughly 400,000 and 200,000 years ago, the pace of innovation in stone technology began to accelerate very slightly, a period known as the Middle Stone Age.

By the beginning of this time, handaxes were made with exquisite craftsmanship. This eventually gave way to smaller, more diverse toolkits, with an emphasis on flake tools rather than larger core tools.

The Stone Age is a period in human prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone tools that covers more than 95 per cent of human technological prehistory. This image shows neolithic jadeitite axes from the Museum of Toulouse

The Stone Age is a period in human prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone tools that covers more than 95 per cent of human technological prehistory. This image shows neolithic jadeitite axes from the Museum of Toulouse

These toolkits were established by at least 285,000 years in some parts of Africa, and by 250,000 to 200,000 years in Europe and parts of western Asia. These toolkits last until at least 50,000 to 28,000 years ago.

During the Later Stone Age the pace of innovations rose and the level of craftsmanship increased.

Groups of Homo sapiens experimented with diverse raw materials, including bone, ivory, and antler, as well as stone.

The period, between 50,000 and 39,000 years ago, is also associated with the advent of modern human behaviour in Africa.

Different groups sought their own distinct cultural identity and adopted their own ways of making things.

Later Stone Age peoples and their technologies spread out of Africa over the next several thousand years

Source: Dailymail

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