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Half-million-year-old unearthed wooden structure challenges everything known about Stone Age humans

The unearthed wooden structures from Zambia has no real parallel in the records of archaeology, according to the study conducted on its marks.

Half-million-year-old unearthed wooden structure challenges everything known about Stone Age humans
Cover Image Source: YouTube | HLC Digital

Past never ceases to surprise people. Just when people believe they have discovered everything that was to be found about humans, something comes up that changes the whole idea. The recent unearthing in Zambia showcases there might be a bit more to the picture people might not have been privy to, as reported by BBC. The article was published by the journal Nature that wooden structures, almost half a million years old, have been found in Zambia. This discovery is shocking as the features of the wood clearly indicate it was used for building a structure. As per the data gathered on primitive humans, they never used wood for building rather it was the primary agent with which they caused fires.

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Stone-age humans, as the name suggests, mainly used stones for various activities like fighting and creating household tools, as reported by PlanBee. Though the usage of wood is not undocumented, the implication has always been that they primarily used it to create fire. The houses were mainly created with small stones, shells, animal bones, and mud. Though they often put wood into the mix, the archaeologists did not expect nearly as much expertise as the one in the excavated structure.

"This find has changed how I think about our early ancestors," archaeologist Prof Larry Barham said. The excavation and analysis of the structure was conducted by the Deep Roots of Humanity research project by a group of scientists from the University of Liverpool. This discovery throws major contention towards the popularly held belief that Stone Age humans led a simple life. Barham explains that while seeing the structure, it was evident that a lot of thoughtful planning went into it. He adds, "They used their intelligence, imagination and skills to create something they'd never seen before, something that had never previously existed."



Along with the structure, they also found ancient wooden tools. The finding that fascinated them the most was two pieces of wood, placed at right angles to each other. Geoff Duller, professor of geography at the University of Aberystwyth and a member of the team, went into detail that the wood pieces were laid on each other and had notches cut on them. He said, "You can clearly see those notches have been cut by stone tools. It makes the two logs fit together to become structural objects."

Analysis revealed that the woods were almost 476,000 years old. Perrice Nkombwe, from the Livingstone Museum in Zambia, was taken aback, as there was not a lot of research that indicated woodworking was a serious tradition or practice in the Stone Age. He said, "It dawned on me that we had uncovered something extraordinary." The size of the logs was about 1.5m (5ft). The specific measurements imply that the woodworker was trying to create something sophisticated.

The team believes that it is unlikely that the structure was used for a big dwelling. It might have been made to be incorporated into a platform for a shelter. "It might be some sort of structure to sit beside the river and fish," Prof Duller said. However, the team agrees that since it was so long ago, it is impossible to pinpoint exactly the purpose of the structure. Since no bones have been found, it is also difficult to analyze which ancient human species made the structure.

"We don't know - it could have been Homo sapiens and we just haven't discovered fossils from that age yet," Prof Duller said. "But it could be a different species - [perhaps] Homo erectus or Homo naledi - there were several hominid species around at that time in southern Africa." In order to analyze and store, the wood structure has been transported to the UK. However, the plan is to return it to Zambia. "With this discovery, we hope to enrich our collection and use the finds to inform the interpretation of the woodworking tradition in Zambia," Ms Nkombwe said.


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