In 2019, a pair of interlocking logs were discovered. Carbon dating suggests that they are roughly 476,000 years old and haven’t been exposed to sunlight until then.
Discovered at Kalambo Falls in Zambia, these logs are a time machine back to mid-Paleolithic Africa, during which humans were learning how to use stone tools. These logs also predate our species, Homo sapiens.
The international team examining the find concluded that it belonged to a permanent structure, such as a platform or a building. This challenges how science has perceived our ancestors, their ability to use tools and the idea that they were nomads.
“This find has changed how I think about our early ancestors,” says Larry Barham, University of Liverpool archaeologist, and leader of Deep Roots of Humanity, a project researching Stone Age technology.
“Forget the label ‘Stone Age,’ look at what these people were doing: they made something new and large from wood. They used their intelligence, imagination, and skills to create something they’d never seen before, something that had never previously existed.”
There is another example of carpentry that is even older; an 800,000-year-old polished plank found in Israel.
“They transformed their surroundings to make life easier, even if it was only by making a platform to sit on by the river to do their daily chores. These folks were more like us than we thought,” Barham told Nature.
This find, and many others, show our lack of understanding about our ancient ancestors. They weren’t just upright walking animals, but they were intelligent and thinking creatures who were capable of complex thought. I am personally excited about what other finds will come in our lifetime.