Ancient man was not as primitive as some would have us believe – that, at least, is the conclusion reached after the excavation of the Francthi Cave on the coast of south-east Greece.
The Francthi Cave, on the coast of south east Greece, is a remarkable site which, according to the archaeologists who excavated there has a 33 feet deep unbroken series of deposits covering the period from 20,000 BC down to 3,000 BC – in other words, from the far prehistoric
- of the Middle Paleolithic down to the very edge of the historic period. The excavations occupied nine years, from 1967 through to 1976. The archaeologists were mildly surprised to discover just outside the cave entrance pieces of obsidian which had been roughly chipped to form primitive tools. The shape of the resulting tools, as well as radio carbon dating of nearby and associated objects led the archaeologists to date this obsidian to around 10,900 BC. By the time of the Mesolithic, along with substantial quantities of fish bones, the amount of obsidian found both inside and outside the cave had increased markedly to about 10% of the total. The surprising thing was that the nearest source for obsidian was the island of Melos and analysis by experts confirmed that this piece of stone had indeed come from that particular island. Now Melos is nearly 100 miles away by sea, with no practicable land route to the island. There is evidence, in the form of deposits of salt on the sea floor, that at one time the Mediterranean basin was dry or contained at most a mere puddle of salty water. This, however, was well before the Pleistocene and it is inconceivable that our cave dwellers could have strolled across the dry seabed to Melos in order to acquire their piece of obsidian. It is likewise inconceivable that the obsidian could have reached the Francthi Cave by accident. The only remaining conclusion is that these primitive Stone Age savages were sufficiently accomplished sailors that they were able to explore the Mediterranean almost out of sight of land and return home with desirable objects such as pieces of obsidian. In addition, the archaeologists found Mesolithic millstones of andesite which almost certainly came by sea from the shores of the Saronic Gulf, some considerable distance to the north. Similar evidence can be found nearer home (for Australian readers, that is). There are homo erectus sites on two Indonesian islands which seem to indicate that their inhabitants were able to sail out of sight of land, a fact which suggests a mind capable of recognising the direction of the sun and possibly an understanding of the night sky as well. Diggings has previously commented on the sophisticated defenses of Neolithic Jericho and the high level of artistry being uncovered in equally ancient sites in southern Turkey. It is high time that we put away the mental image of hairy primitives communicating in grunts as they squatted naked around a camp fire on the open plain. Stone Age man was fully human and showed considerable skill and ingenuity in coping with the world he inhabited. After all, how many of us could build a boat with nothing more than a stone axe and go in search of obsidian on a distant island? Article used with permission of Diggins Online. You can find more useful material at Apologtetics Courses, Free Courses and Brethren Assembly. Secular materials can be found at Coins Encyclopedia and Guide For Income