Menneskets forløper, homo erectus, slo seg ned og dannet samfunn for 400.000 år siden, hevder en tysk professor. Det rykker tidshorisonten radikalt tilbake. Gjengs oppfatning idag er at mennesket ble bofast for 10.000 år siden.
Helmut Ziegert, of the Institute of Archaeology at Hamburg University, says that the evidence can be found at excavated sites in North and East Africa, in the remains of stone huts and tools created by upright man for fishing and butchery.
Professor Ziegert claims that the thousands of blades, scrapers, hand axes and other tools found at sites such as Budrinna, on the shore of the extinct Lake Fezzan in southwest Libya, and at Melka Konture, along the River Awash in Ethiopia, provide evidence of organised societies.
He believes that such sites show small communities of 40 or 50 people, with abundant water resources to exploit for constant harvests.
The implications for our knowledge of human evolution — and of our intellectual and social beginnings — are «profound» and a «staggering shift», he said.
Professor Ziegert used potassium argon isotopic dating, stratigraphy and tool typology to compile his evidence. He will publish his findings this month in Minerva, the archaeology journal.
The news divided scholarly opinion yesterday.
Sean Kingsley, an archaeologist and the managing editor of Minerva, said: «This research is nothing less than a quantum leap in our understanding of Man’s intellectual and social history. For archaeology it’s as radical as finding life on Mars.
«As a veteran of over 81 archaeological surveys and excavations . . . Ziegert is nothing if not scientifically cautious, which makes the current revelation all the more exciting.»