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Oldest Stone Tool Discovered in Turkey Pinpoints Early Human Migration to Europe

stone tool

Image credit: Royal Holloway Department of Geography

Turkey is thought to be the gateway for our distant ancestors from Asia to Europe. According to a stone tool recently found, which should be regarded as the oldest on record for the region, scientists conclude humans had migrated from Asia nearly 1.2 million years ago. Such time was much earlier than people thought previously. The research has been published in the latest edition of Quaternary Science Reviews.

Although scientists have unearthed stone aged artifacts and fossils before in the limestone sediments at Kocabaş in the Denizli basin in the area of Anatolia in Western Turkey, they found that the chronology of these materials had been not constrained that well. However, this newly discovered tool located around 100 kilometers north of such previous findings in an ancient river meander cutting through lavas could be aged precisely.

Talking about this discovery, Danielle Schreve from Royal Holloway University of London said that it was very important for identifying the timing and route of early human migration into Europe. And their research demonstrated that the flake was the earliest precisely-dated artifact from Turkey recorded so far, as it was dropped on the floodplain by an early hominin nearly a million years ago.

In collaboration with Darrel Maddy of Newcastle Universityand his international team, Schreve discovered the hard-hammer quartzite flake which was five centimeter long, when they were working at artifacts from the EarlyPleistoceneGedizRiver sequence.


When he turned it over for further examination, he immediately noticed some features of a humanly-struck artifact. In addition Maddy also said that their team had found the markings on the flake clearly showing it had been struck with force by a hard hammer or other stone tool instead of being shaped by natural processes.

By application of argon radioisotopic dating and magnetic measurements from prehistoric lava flowing the river meander the team was capable of pinpointing human occupation in the valley between 1.24 million and 1.17 million years ago.

Images: Royal Holloway (top), Newcastle (middle)