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Keywords:

  • Palaeolithic;
  • Acheulean;
  • Crete;
  • marine terrace;
  • radiocarbon

Abstract

Discussions of dispersals of early hominins from Africa assume that Southwest Asia and the Arabian Peninsula were the primary passageways for migrations to Eurasia. The Mediterranean is usually viewed as a barrier to early hominin movements because pre-sapiens hominins were thought to lack the technical means or the cognitive skills to construct boats. The discovery of early Palaeolithic artefacts in an archaeological survey on the Greek island of Crete challenges this view. Here we show that Palaeolithic artefacts in the Plakias region in southwestern Crete are associated with geological contexts that can be dated to the late Middle or early Late Pleistocene. Because Crete has been separated from the mainland throughout the Pleistocene, the presence of Pleistocene age artefacts there suggests that early hominins were able to cross open water. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.