Scientists have just discovered the oldest stone tool ever in the river of Gediz, western Turkey. The tool which is expected to be nearly 1.2 million years old, is expected to unfold the story of migration of human beings from Asia to Europe. It already suggests that they migrated to Europe much earlier than was previously thought.
“This discovery is critical for establishing the timing and route of early human dispersal into Europe. Our research suggests that the flake is the earliest securely-dated artifact from Turkey ever recorded and was dropped on the floodplain by an early hominin well over a million years ago,” researcher Danielle Schreve, from the University of Royal Holloway London, said in a statement.
The flake being referred to by the researcher Schreve here is the humanly-worked quartzite flake that has been found in ancient deposits of the river Gediz. While the stone might not mean much to us or may even look like any other rock found in a river bed, it is baffling that the little pinkish flake is capable of telling scientists so much about the human migration from one continent to another millions of years back.
Researchers at the Royal Holloway, University of London, the UK, Turkey and the Netherlands, worked together to find out how old the stone was. With the help of high-precision radioisotopic dating and palaeomagnetic measurements from lava flows, which both pre-date and post-date the sediment samples from the river, the scientists are now certain that the tool is nearly 1.2 million years old.
This date of the recently found stone tool implies that the early humans settled in the area sometime between 1.2 and 1.7 million years ago. Though this is not the first instance of scientists coming across an ancient tool, they had met with limited success while predicting the date of earlier found tools.
“By working together with geologists and dating specialists, we have been able to put a secure chronology to this find and shed new light on the behavior of our most distant ancestors,” she said.
The oldest stone tool ever found is believed to be nearly 2.6 million years old, and is located at the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Researchers believe that it was made before the ancient hominins learned to make more advanced tools like scrapers, axes and flaked tools.