Ancient stone tools unearthed further explaining Greek archaeology

The stone tools date back 700,000 years, revealing astonishing findings and their implications for our understanding of human evolution.
Abdul-Rahman Oladimeji Bello
Ancient artifacts in Greece
An illustration of ancient artifacts in Greece.


Researchers have unearthed Greece's oldest archaeological site deep within an open coal mine in southern Greece. This groundbreaking find, which dates back an astonishing 700,000 years, has the potential to rewrite the history books and push the dawn of Greek archaeology back by as much as a quarter of a million years!

This is according to a report by AP published in Thursday.

How did they do it? This thrilling revelation came as part of a five-year project involving an international team of experts investigating five Megalopolis sites. While older hominin sites have been discovered elsewhere in Europe, this find in Greece represents a significant leap backward for the country's archaeological record.

The excavation uncovered various fascinating artifacts, including rough stone tools from the Lower Palaeolithic period, which spanned from approximately 3.3 million to 300,000 years ago. These simple yet effective tools, such as sharp stone flakes, provide invaluable insight into the ancient humans' way of life.

Additionally, the remains of various long-extinct species, including giant deer, elephants, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and even a macaque monkey, were discovered alongside the tools.

Implications of the discovery

Leading the project were Panagiotis Karkanas from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Eleni Panagopoulou from the Greek Culture Ministry, and Katerina Harvati, a respected professor of paleoanthropology at the University of Tübingen in Germany.

In a joint statement, the co-directors emphasized the significance of this find, noting that it could potentially be linked to Homo antecessor, a hominin species believed to be the common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals.

However, the researchers cautioned that further analysis and the recovery of hominin fossil remains are necessary to confirm this hypothesis. Nevertheless, they expressed their excitement about the discovery and its implications for our understanding of hominin migrations to Europe and human evolution as a whole.

The tools, estimated at around 700,000 years old, offer vital clues about early human activities, likely used for butchering animals and processing plant materials. Another site in the Megalopolis area yielded an equally remarkable find—the oldest Middle Palaeolithic remains in Greece, dating back approximately 280,000 years. This discovery suggests that Greece may have played a crucial role in developing the Middle Palaeolithic tool industry in Europe.

The excavation site's location, within an area historically mined for coal to power a local plant, adds another layer of intrigue to this extraordinary discovery. The Megalopolis plain, once a shallow lake during Palaeolithic times, has long been known for its abundance of fossils.

In ancient times, enormous prehistoric bones found there were even linked to Greek myths of a mythical race of giants battling the gods of Olympus. The discovery of this ancient site breathes new life into the legends and adds a fascinating historical dimension to the area.