4,000-year-old Thracian chariot unearthed in Serbia

4,000-year-old Thracian chariot unearthed in Serbia


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Archaeologists in Serbia have unearthed the remains of a beautifully decorated chariot , which is thought to be as old as 4,000 years. It is believed to have belonged to a member of the Thracian elite.

The Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting a large area in Central and Southeastern Europe who were first mentioned in Homer’s ‘Iliad’, where they were described as allies of the Trojans in the Trojan War against the Greeks. They were known to be fierce warriors and horse-breeders who established a powerful kingdom.

According to archaeologist Zoran Mitic, who made the discovery, it is a “unique and extremely important item” which was found near the village of Stanicenje, in the south east of Serbia. In the same area, archaeologists also uncovered a tumulus (tomb).

“Judging by the manner of burial, I guess that it was a member of Thracian people, not ordinary, but someone who occupied an important place in the hierarchy, due to the fact that the chariot is decorated with beautiful bronze applications,” said Mitic.

The chariot would have been drawn by two horses, and echoes another discovery made just a few months ago in Bulgaria of a complete Thracian chariot and two horses that were buried upright . It was found in a tomb along with other artefacts and it is assumed that both the chariot and horses belonged to the deceased. Sadly, it appeared that chariot was placed in a narrow hole with a sloping side to allow horses, decorated with elaborate harnesses, to pull it into its final resting place, after which they were killed. Experts reached this conclusion after noticing that the horses were still attached to their harnesses and to the carriage.


    The Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace: Orpheus Unmasked (Oxford Monographs on Classical Archaeology) (Hardcover)

    hotelstay.eu — Seuthopolis was an ancient city founded by the Thracian king Seuthes III, and the capital of the Odrysian kingdom since 320 BC. It was a small city, built on the site of an earlier settlement, and its ruins are now located at the bottom of the Koprinka Reservoir near Kazanlak, Stara Zagora Province, in central Bulgaria.

     

     Thracian (Peonian) Gold prayer book - leaf

    Museum of Macedonia - Archaeological Department

    National Historical Museum, Sofia, Bulgaria

    It contains six bound sheets of 24 carat gold, with illustrations of a horse-rider, a mermaid, a harp and soldiers.

    It has now been donated to the museum by its finder, on condition of anonymity.

    Reports say the unidentified donor is now 87 years old and lives in Macedonia.

    The authenticity of the book has been confirmed by two experts in Sofia and London, museum director Bojidar Dimitrov said quoted by AFP.

    The six sheets are believed to be the oldest comprehensive work involving multiple pages, said Elka Penkova, who heads the museum's archaeological department.

    There are around 30 similar pages known in the world, Ms Penkova said, "but they are not linked together in a book".

    The Etruscans - one of Europe's most mysterious ancient peoples - are believed to have migrated from Lydia, in modern western Turkey, settling in northern and central Italy nearly 3,000 years ago.

    They were wiped out by the conquering Romans in the fourth century BC, leaving few written records.

    THE GOLDEN PLATES OF PHYRGI-LAMINAE PHYRGIENSES

    Bulgaria's ancient Thracian heritage has been thrust into the spotlight this year with a number of key archaeological discoveries in the so-called "Valley of the Thracian Kings".

    The shrine consisted of three chambers buried under a big hill. The entry was sealed with a marble door, a masterpiece in itself.

    In the first chamber, there lay the skeleton of a horse. But the real treasure waited in the third. The team went in to find a lavishly arranged burial place, a gold wreath and objects lying around.

    Ancient findings such as this are not uncommon for this area south of the Balkan Mountains, aptly named the "Valley of the Thracian Kings".

    Weeks earlier the same team had discovered a rare gold mask.

      Scientists compare the new find to the discovery of King Agamemnon's tomb in Mycenae by Heinrich Schliemann in the 19th century.

    Archaeological excavations have therefore taken centre stage in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian media rediscovered the Indiana Jones type mystery of ancient civilizations and 2004 became "The Year of the Archaeologists".

    Public emotion went as far as the idea of using the new gold treasure to promote Bulgaria, under the logo "The Valley of the Thracian Kings".

    But can ancient gold change Bulgaria's image and attract foreign tourists and investment?

    The director of The National Archaeological Museum told the BBC the real treasures are not the gold objects, but the tombs discovered in the area.

    About a dozen of these tombs are really interesting and can attract foreign visitors if an adequate infrastructure is developed.

    The tomb is part of a large Thracian necropolis . It comprises a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber, both decorated with murals representing a Thracian couple at a ritual funeral feast. The monument dates back to the 4th century BC and has been on the UNESCO protected World Heritage Site list since 1979. The murals are memorable for the splendid horses and especially for the gesture of farewell, in which the seated couple grasp each other's wrists in a moment of tenderness and equality. The paintings are Bulgaria's best-preserved artistic masterpieces from the Hellenistic period .

    The tomb is situated near the ancient Thracian capital of Seuthopolis .

    The seated woman of the murals is depicted on the reverse of the Bulgarian 50 stotinkas coin issued in 2005. [ 1 ]


    Heavily pregnant EastEnders star Kellie Bright counts down the days to birth

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    A huge prehistoric settlement dating back 9,000 years unearthed near Jerusalem by Israeli archaeologists during preparations for a new highway could rewrite the history of humans in the region.

    Home to around 3,000 individuals during the Stone Age the settlement, near modern-day Motza, disproves the long-standing theory that humans did not live in Judea at this time and is being called the area’s ‘big bang’ as well as being a ‘game-changer’ for our knowledge of humankind’s settlement of the country.

    The site has revealed large buildings, flint tools, including thousands of arrowheads, axes for chopping down trees, sickle blades, and knives – proving the city was a bustling hub of a complex society.

    It was thought that the area was previously uninhabited and only the other bank of the Jordan river had such vast cities but the site, which covers dozens of acres, has forced them to reconsider all they know about Israeli history.

    The excavation exposed large buildings, alleyways and burial places. Trays with findings from the archaeological excavation site of a settlement from the Neolithic Period (New Stone Age), discovered during archaeological excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority near Motza Junction, about 5km west of Jerusalem Part of an excavation site where a huge prehistoric settlement was discovered by Israeli archaeologists, is seen in the town of Motza near Jerusalem. The archaeological team discovered large buildings, including rooms that were used for living, as well as public facilities and places of ritual

    According to the Antiquities Authority, this is the first time that such a large-scale settlement from the Neolithic Period is discovered in Israel, and one of the largest of its kind in the region

    Before the discovery, it was widely believed the entire area had been uninhabited in that period, during which people were shifting away from hunting for survival to a more sedentary lifestyle that included farming.

    Jacob Vardi, co-director of the excavations at Motza on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, said: ‘It’s a game-changer, a site that will drastically shift what we know about the Neolithic era.’

    ‘So far, it was believed that the Judea area was empty and that sites of that size existed only on the other bank of the Jordan river, or in the Northern Levant.

    ‘Instead of an uninhabited area from that period, we have found a complex site, where varied economic means of subsistence existed, and all these only several dozens of centimeters below the surface.’

    The archaeological team discovered large buildings, including rooms that were used for living, as well as public facilities and places of ritual. Between the buildings, alleys were exposed, bearing evidence of the settlement’s advanced level of planning.

    The team also found storage sheds that contained large quantities of legumes, particularly lentils, whose seeds were remarkably preserved throughout the millennia.

    A host of objects were found at the site and between them shed new light on the history of ancient Israel and human habitation of the area

    ‘This is most probably the largest excavation of this time period in the Middle East, which will allow the research to advance leaps and bounds ahead of where we are today, just by the amount of material that we are able to save and preserve from this site,’ Lauren Davis, an archaeologist with Israel’s antiquities authority, told Reuters.

    ‘This finding is evidence of the intensive practice of agriculture,’ according to the statement.

    ‘Animal bones found on the site show that the settlement’s residents became increasingly specialized in sheep-keeping, while the use of hunting for survival gradually decreased.’

    Archaeologists also found evidence of some graves and tombs from a more recent era, dating back 4,000 years. Two warriors were buried in a tomb with a dagger and a spearhead alongside a donkey which is believed would have been domesticated and intended to serve the warriors in the afterlife.

    Ancient burial sites in the city showed advanced levels of planning.

    Ms. Davis said: ‘There’s also an amazing find, which is a whole donkey, domesticated, that was buried in front of the tomb probably when they sealed it.’

    Buildings and other architectural remains are being studied using non-invasive scanning techniques which are intended to paint a picture of the settlement when it was in use.

    Much of the physical remnants will be preserved despite the ongoing roadworks for the Route 16 Project, which includes building a new road to Jerusalem from the Route 1 highway at the Motza Interchange to the capital.

    A view of some of the objects found at the site. The team also found storage sheds that contained large quantities of legumes, particularly lentils, whose seeds were remarkably preserved throughout the millennia

    Iron Age Chariot Found with Horse Skeletons Leaping Towards the Sky

    An Iron Age Celtic warrior burial has revealed stunning remains of a chariot, shield, and even horses in a leaping pose has been hailed as the most important find of its kind ever in the UK. The surprising secrets about England’s ancient past were uncovered by archaeologists in the Yorkshire town of Pocklington. The eye-popping treasure trove dates back some 2,200 years.

    The finds were made in 2018 but details are only just coming to light under conservation efforts and analysis. And the results are staggering for experts. As Paula Ware of MAP Archaeological Practice Ltd explained to the York Press, “The magnitude and preservation of the Pocklington chariot burial has no British parallel, providing a greater insight into the Iron Age epoch”.

    Why is it so significant? The presence of an elaborate shield measuring 30 inches across has played a major role in this historic narrative. It was placed face down in the chariot with the middle-aged, battle-scarred occupant on top of the shield.

    The shield was discovered near a chariot with the remains of two ponies buried in a leaping pose. (Image credit: Map Archaeological Practice )

    Smithsonian describes the round defensive object, writing it “was made in the La Tène style typical of early Celtic art. It depicts organic forms like mollusk shells, as well as triskele, or triple spiral designs that draw the eye to the shield’s raised center.”

    Of particular interest is the shield’s “scalloped” edge. The scallop effect is created by a series of semi-circles. It’s a “previously unknown design feature” and “is not comparable to any other Iron Age finds across Europe” says Ware, quoted by York Press.

    The amazing decorations and details of the shield have only recently come to light. Photo: Map Archaeological Practice

    The shield is also punctured, which has altered perspectives on why such items were included during burial. Previously it was believed these were ceremonial items. This example shows evidence of having been used in battle and repaired afterwards.

    Celtic museum in Hallein ( Salzburg ). Reconstruction of a Celtic chariot. Photo by Wolfgang Sauber CC by 3.0

    Who was the warrior in question? Someone important, according to the team. York Press writes the site is “a final resting place for a highly regarded member of the community due to being surrounded by the remains of six pigs, believed to act as an offering”.

    Intriguingly, shield fragments appear to have been scattered across this part of the site. 2 brooches – one bronze and another with a red dragonfly design – were found with the “important” warrior.

    The excavation of the chariot and horses where the shield was also found. Photo: Map Archaeological Practice

    The horses, or ponies, have been laid out in a leaping position. It’s presumed they were there to pull the upright chariot and its rider to the afterlife. Chariots in a grave are certainly dramatic but not unusual. Approx. 20 of them have been dug up in the UK in the past century. Having said that, none up to now have had equines attached!

    The horses were put in a leaping pose to guide the main into the afterlife. Photo: Map Archaeological Practice

    This isn’t a strictly British phenomenon either. Live Science mentions “a Celtic prince in what is today France” from around 2,500 years ago. He was buried “in a lavish tomb complete with gorgeous pottery, a gold-tipped drinking vessel and … a chariot”.

    Meanwhile, over in the South Caucasus a 4,000 year old discovery was made of a “burial chamber holding two four-wheeled chariots and plenty of treasures in the country of Georgia.” The Roman Empire saw many noblemen and their chariots laid to rest in Bulgaria.

    The Independent talks to Dr Melanie Giles of the University of Manchester. She thinks the significance of the find cannot be understated. She’s called it “the most important British Celtic art object of the millennium”. She might want to hold her horses on that front… quite literally.

    The excavation site of the Iron Age shield and chariot is owned by a housebuilding company, whose efforts helped uncover the ancient secrets. They’re going to give the man’s remains, plus chariot, to a museum. Work on their development continues apace, with new generations settling on the site of Britain’s vibrant and ancient history.


    4,000-year-old Thracian chariot unearthed in Serbia - History

    Indian archaeologists have unearthed over 4,000-year-old chariots, swords and helmets in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which they claim clearly suggests that those were also used in wars in this sub-continent during the Bronze Age.

    A team at the state-owned Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) found the chariots, which are two-wheeled open vehicle drawn by horse, and other artefacts in Sanauli village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, 60 km from the Indian capital, after a three-month-long excavation.

    According to the researchers, this is the first time that chariots have been found in the Indian sub-continent. When in 2000 BC, the Mesopotamians were using chariots, swords and even helmets during wars, the researchers said, people in this sub-continent also had similar items.

    "It's shocking to find such antique from ancient civilization in this area. Many royal tombs have also been found during the excavation. Whatever has been found so far seems to be 4,000 years old, which is approximately 2,000-1,800 BCE," top ASI official S.K. Manjul told the media.

    On animals used to draw the chariots, Manjul said, "It could be a bull or a horse, but having said that the preliminary understanding points to the horse."

    "The chariot is a lookalike of the ones found in its contemporary cultures like Mesopotamia. It is a solid wheel with no spokes. In one of the pits, crown or helmet worn by the rider of the chariot has been recovered," the official added.

    Some historians, however, argue that chariots figure prominently in the Rigveda, evidencing their presence in India in the 2nd millennium BCE. Among Rigvedic deities, notably Ushas (the dawn) rides in a chariot, as well as Agni in his function as a messenger between gods and men.

    The Rigveda is a collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns counted among the four Hindu religious texts known as the Vedas. The Rig Veda was likely composed between roughly 1,700-1,100 BCE.

    Others went further and said the discovery of chariots could be a hint of the existence of the horse-drawn carts in the Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. "There was mention of chariots in the epic," local historian R.S. Prasad said.

    In Mahabharata, where the main story revolves around two branches of a family - Pandavas and Kauravas - who, in the Kurukshetra War, battle for the throne of Hastinapura.

    The ASI researchers also said a coffin found by them during excavation is copper-decorated. "For the first time in the sub-continent we have found this kind of coffin. The cover is highly decorated with eight anthropomorphic figures and the sides with floral motifs," Manjul said.

    According to them, the discovery of chariots, swords, daggers, among others, suggests that a warrior tribe had lived in that place during that time.

    "The new findings will shed light on India's place in the ancient world history. Previously, chariots were found to be a part of Mesopotamia, Georgia, Greek civilizations. But, the Sanauli recovery shows we were on par with them," Manjul added.


    4,000-year-old Aryan city discovered in Russia

    Russian archaeologists have unearthed some ancient and virtually unknown settlements, which they believe were built by the original Aryan race about 4,000 years ago.

    According to the team which has discovered 20 spiral-shaped settlements in remote Russia steppe in southern Siberia bordering Kazakhstan, the buildings date back to the beginning of the Western civilisation in Europe.

    The Bronze Age settlements, experts said, could have been built shortly after the Great Pyramid, some 4,000 years ago, by the original Aryan race whose swastika symbol was later adopted by the Nazis in the 1930s.

    TV historian Bettany Hughes, who explored the desolate part of the steppe for BBC programme ‘Tracking The Aryans,' said, “Potentially, this could rival ancient Greece in the Age of the Heroes.”

    The remains of the ancient city were explored for the first time around 20 years ago, shortly after the then-Soviet officials relaxed the laws banning non-military aerial photography.

    But, as the region is so remote, the incredible cities remained unknown until now, the archaeologists said. The cities are about the same size as several of the city states of ancient Greece and would have housed between 1,000 and 2,00 people.

    The Aryan's language has been identified as the precursor to a number of modern European tongues. Many English words such as brother, oxen and guest have all been tracked to the Aryans.

    Items that have been dug up at the sites include make-up equipment, a chariot, and numerous pieces of pottery.

    The artefacts were daubed in Swastikas, which were used in ancient times as symbols of the sun and eternal life. The Swastika and Aryan race were later adopted by Hitler and the Nazis as symbols of their so-called master race.

    Ancient texts unearthed

    Evidence of ritual horse burials were found at the site, with ancient Aryan texts that describe the animals being sliced up and buried with their masters.

    Ms. Hughes, a visiting research fellow at King's College London, said that ancient Indian texts and hymns described sacrifices of horses and burials and the way the meat was cut off and the way the horse was buried with its master.

    “If you match this with the way the skeletons and graves are being dug up in Russia, they are a millimetre-perfect match.”


    Putting the horse before the cart: What the discovery of 4,000-year-old ‘chariot’ in UP signifies

    Press Information Bureau, Union government

    During an excavation in western Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district that has been on since March, the Archaeological Survey of India uncovered the remains of what have been called “chariots”. The find, which was announced on Monday, is said to date back to 2000 BC-1800 BC, although a final date will be available only after carbon dating. (Carbon dating determines how old a material is by measuring the rate of decay of a type of carbon known as carbon-14 within it.)

    “The wheels rotated on a fixed axle linked by a draft pole to the yoke of a pair of animals,” SK Manjul, head of the excavation, told India Today. “The axle was attached with a superstructure consisting of a platform protected by side-screens and a high dashboard.” Moreover, the wheels were solid, not spoked.

    The find has generated a lot of excitement, for various reasons. For one, the media has associated the vehicle with the Hindu epics. “The three chariots found in the burial pits could remind one of the familiar images of horse-drawn carriages from mythological television shows,” wrote India Today. The website of the Hindi television channel Aaj Tak was more explicit: “Baghpat is one of the five villages demanded by the Pandavas. As a result, these finds are being connected to the Mahabharat age.” This points to a trend, present even in formal Indian archaeology, of treating religious epics as literal history.

    The other strand the find has dug up is the theory of Indo-European migration into the Indian subcontinent (also called the Aryan migration or Aryan invasion theory). On Tuesday, “True Indology”, a popular Right-Wing Twitter handle, suggested the “path-breaking” discovery “fundamentally changes long held perceptions about ancient India”. It explained: “The mainstream historians long held that chariots were introduced into India from central Asia. The chariot has been excavated from Sanauli which is in heartland of Kurukshetra.”

    Another Right-Wing columnist called it a “decisive blow to the Aryan Invasion Theory”.

    Importance of the chariot

    The spoked-wheeled chariot is “fundamental to Aryan identification”, according to Edwin Bryant, an Indologist at Rutgers University in the United States. The Proto-Indo-European culture (often misnamed “Aryan” in popular culture) is closely identified with this vehicle known by the Proto-Indo-European word “rota” (from which the modern Hindi word “rath” is derived). Many academic theories identify the Proto-Indo-Europeans as branching out from a Central Asian homeland and streaming into the subcontinent around 1500 BC. Consistent with this theory is the fact that the chariot is not only prominent in Indo-European texts such as the Homeric hymns, it also plays a notable part in Vedic texts. In fact, the iconography of the chariot or rath is also present in modern Hinduism. Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani undertook his high-profile cross-country rally in 1990 to demolish the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and build a Ram temple in its place in a Toyata van decorated to look like a chariot. The rally itself was called a “rath yatra”, or chariot journey.

    There is, however, a fundamental difference between the chariots of Indo-European history and the ones found in Sanauli – the type of wheel. The former is typified by a spoked wheel while the one found in Uttar Pradesh has a solid wheel with no spokes. Moreover, if carbon dating places this chariot after the accepted date of Indo-European migration, it would actually strengthen the Aryan migration theory, pointed out Vagheesh Narasimhan, a geneticist involved in Indo-European studies.

    The Sanauli chariot has a solid wheel. (Credit: via Twitter)

    Of chariots and horses

    Even more fundamental than whether the chariot had spokes is the use of the term chariot itself. A chariot is necessarily defined as being pulled by horses and used for warfare or racing. A two-wheeled vehicle pulled by an animal (including but not limited to a horse) and used generally for carrying loads would be called a cart.

    While the team that led the excavation has called the find a “chariot”, it has also expressed lack of clarity on the animal – bull or horse – that drew it. This, in turn, points to another facet of the debate around Aryan migration: is the horse indigenous to India?

    In the Vedas, the horse is an incredibly important animal. Yet, the material culture – the seals, pottery and such – of the Indus Valley civilisation has simply no mention of the animal. “It has often been pointed out that the complete absence of the horse among the animals so prominently featured on the Indus seals is good evidence for the non-Aryan character of the Indus Civilisation,” writes Iravatham Mahadevan, an expert on the Indus script. As a result, the Out-of-India school – which postulates Indo-European migration from, not to, India – has often focussed on finding evidence of horses in the Indus Valley civilisation.

    A desperate attempt

    In 1999, NS Rajaraman, an American researcher of Indian origin, claimed to have discovered widespread evidence of horses in Harappa, even pointing to the existence of a horse seal. But Micheal Witzel, an Indologist from Harvard University in the United States, proved the seal was a hoax created with the use of digital graphics. In 2015, Rajaraman’s frequent co-author, David Frawley, was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, by the Narendra Modi government.

    Apart from material culture, archaeologists have also tried to look for physical horse bones at Indus Valley civilisation sites. In 1974, an Archaeological Survey of India excavation in Surkotada, Gujarat, led by JP Joshi and AK Sharma unearthed what they claimed were horse bones dating from 2100-1700BC – which meant that they pre-dated any Indo-European migration into India. These claims were widely disbelieved with Richard Meadow, a specialist in zooarchaeology at Harvard University, arguing that “the ‘horse’ of Surkotada… is likewise almost certainly a half-ass, albeit a large one”.

    Two decades after the discovery, however, Hungarian archaeologist Sandor Bokonyi claimed the bones were indeed those of a horse. Meadow challenged Bokonyi but before anything further could be said, the latter died.

    High horse

    Advocates of the Aryan migration theory, however, argue that Bokonyi’s opinion made little difference to the fact that there is a mismatch between the exalted status of the horse in Vedic civilisation and its absence in Harappan sites. Bokonyi himself said the horse was not native to India but “reached the Indian subcontinent in an already domesticated form coming from the Inner Asiatic horse domestication centers”.

    “Even if this [the Surkotada horse] were indeed the only archaeologically and palaeontologically secure Indus horse available so far, it would not turn the Indus Civilisation into one teeming with horses [as the Rigveda indeed is, a few hundred years later]. A tiger skeleton in the Roman Colosseum does not make this Asian predator a natural inhabitant of Italy.”

    There is strong academic consensus that the horse was brought to India – which, of course, challenges any theory of Indo-Europeans being indigenous to India. However, in India, modern politics around Hindutva has meant that the theory of Indo-European migration is widely contested. The director of the Sanauli excavation did not only label the vehicle a chariot but also claimed that “evidence of horses, including fossils of teeth, have been found at other Harappan sites”.


    The discoveries in the journal Science Advances were based on years of excavations and challenge current thinking about human movement in the region —long thought to have been inaccessible and uninhabitable to anyone but modern humans.

    The latest evidence encourages researchers to reconsider the routes followed by our earliest ancestors from Africa to Europe and reveals their ability to respond to new environmental challenges.

    “Until recently, this part of the world was seen as irrelevant to early human studies but the results force us to completely rethink the history of the Mediterranean islands,” says Tristan Carter, an associate professor of anthropology at McMaster University and lead author on the study.

    He conducted the work with Dimitris Athanasoulis, head of archaeology at the Cycladic Ephorate of Antiquities within the Greek Ministry of Culture.

    While Stone Age hunters are known to have been living in mainland Europe for over 1 million years, the Mediterranean islands were previously believed to be settled only 9,000 years ago, by farmers, the idea being that only modern humans — Homo sapiens — were sophisticated enough to build seafaring vessels.

    Scholars had believed the Aegean Sea, separating western Anatolia (modern Turkey) from continental Greece, was therefore impassable to the Neanderthals and earlier hominins, with the only obvious route in and out of Europe, was across the land bridge of Thrace (southeast Balkans).

    The authors of this paper suggest that the Aegean basin was, in fact, accessible much earlier than believed.

    At certain times of the Ice Age, the sea was much lower exposing a land route between the continents that would have allowed early prehistoric populations to walk to Stelida, and an alternative migration route connecting Europe and Africa.

    Researchers believe the area would have been attractive to early humans because of its abundance of raw materials ideal for toolmaking and for its freshwater.

    At the same time, however, “in entering this region the pre-Neanderthal populations would have been faced with a new and challenging environment, with different animals, plants and diseases, all requiring new adaptive strategies,” says Carter.

    In this paper, the team details evidence of human activity spanning almost 200,000 years at Stelida, a prehistoric quarry on the northwest coast of Naxos.

    Map of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea showing Naxos in the center

    Here early Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and earlier humans used the local stone (chert) to make their tools and hunting weapons, of which the team has unearthed hundreds of thousands.

    Chert tool, Stelida, Naxos Kathryn Killackey/Stelida Naxos Archaeological Project

    Reams of scientific data collected at the site add to the ongoing debate about the importance of coastal and marine routes to human movement.

    While present data suggests that the Aegean could be crossed by foot over 200,000 years ago, the authors also raise the possibility that Neanderthals may also have fashioned crude seafaring boats capable of crossing short distances.

    This research is part of the Stelida Naxos Archeological Project, a larger collaboration involving scholars from all over the world. They have been working at the site since 2013.