Knapped from a cobble of local quartz stone, the rough-looking tool resembled hand axes discovered in Africa and mainland Europe and used by human ancestors until about 175,000 years ago. This stone tool technology, which could have been useful for smashing bones and cutting flesh, had been relatively static for over a million years.
Crete has been surrounded by vast stretches of sea for some five million years. The discovery of the hand ax suggests that people besides technologically modern humans—possibly Homo heidelbergensis—island-hopped across the Mediterranean tens of thousands of millennia earlier than expected.
More digging unearthed a total of 30 hand axes plus other tools at nine locations on Crete. The rock terraces the tools were taken from are thought to range from 45,000 years old to 130,000 years old.
"I was flabbergasted," said Boston University archaeologist and stone-tool expert Curtis Runnels. "The idea of finding tools from this very early time period on Crete was about as believable as finding an iPod in King Tut's tomb."
It was thought that humans earlier than Homo sapiens were incapable of long deliberate sea voyages. Link
(image credit: Thomas Strasser)