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Findings indicate existence of Neanderthals on Greek island of Naxos

Did Neanderthals exist on Naxos island? Most probably, according to new research in Stelida, situated three km northwest of the capital of Naxos at a very developed tourist area.

Findings indicate existence of Neanderthals on Greek island of Naxos
Aerial view of Stélida from the West [Credit: D. Depnering]
The Canadian Institute in cooperation with Antiquities Ephorate of Cyclades conducted an excavation in the area which brought into the limelight a series of objects that certify the existence of early humans in the area up to 260,000 ago.

The majority of finds, located on the surface during the 2013 research, were mostly carved stones while a quantity of emery was found (a material that is widely found on the island but not at Stelida). The ceramics found in the area are very rare and are rather from a later era.

The Central Archaeological Council approved the five-year programme for the continuation of the research that will focus on the dating of the finds that changes the prehistoric data on Cyclades.

Findings indicate existence of Neanderthals on Greek island of Naxos
Findings indicate existence of Neanderthals on Greek island of Naxos
Middle Palaeolithic Levallois flakes and flake tools from the survey  
[Credit: McMaster University]
Until recently, the archaeologists believed that the human activity on the islands started very later, approximately in the 5th millenium B.C while only in 1981 with the discovery of Stelida emerged the possibility of an earlier dating.

The new programme has multiple targets. One of them is the dating of the site with the use of scientific technics in order to clarify when the early humans migrated to Europe through the Aegean basin and if this migration was realised through the sea. Moreover, an in detail analysis of the artifacts will take place and the relations of the early humans, meaning the Neanderthals and the Homo Sapiens, will be examined.

For more information visit The Stélida Naxos Archaeological Project's Website.

Source: NewsBomb [May 21, 2015]

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  1. Thanks for this. Of course, "this migration was realised through the sea": fossil, paleo-environmental & other data show that neandertals were excellent swimmers, whose remains are invariably found in river valleys, beaver ponds, oxbow lakes, sea-coasts etc.: "Pleistocene Homo did not run over the African plains (sweating water + salt = scarce in savannas), but followed the African & Eurasian coasts & rivers, beach-combing, diving & wading bipedally for littoral, shallow aquatic & waterside foods (rich in brain-specific nutrients, e.g. DHA).
    Some recent publications on this "coastal dispersal model" (Munro 2010):
    -J.Joordens, S.Munro cs 2014 Homo erectus at Trinil on Java used shells for tool production and engraving, Nature doi 10.1038/nature13962,
    -M.Verhaegen, S.Munro 2011 Pachyosteosclerosis suggests archaic Homo frequently collected sessile littoral foods, HOMO J.compar.hum.Biol.62:237-247,
    -S.Munro 2010 Molluscs as ecological indicators in palaeoanthropological contexts, PhD thesis Univ.Canberra,
    -J.Joordens cs 2009 Relevance of aquatic environments for hominins: a case study from Trinil (Java, Indonesia), J.hum.Evol.57:656-671,
    -M.Gutierrez cs 2001 Exploitation d’un grand cétacé au Paléolithique ancien: le site de Dungo V à Baia Farta (Benguela, Angola), CRAS 332:357-362
    -K.Choi, D.Driwantoro 2007 Shell tool use by early members of Homo erectus in Sangiran, central Java, Indonesia: cut mark evidence, J.archaeol.Sci.34:48-58,
    -S.Cunnane 2005 Survival of the fattest: the key to human brain evolution, World Scient.Publ.Comp.,
    -M.Vaneechoutte cs eds 2011 Was Man more aquatic in the past? eBook Bentham Sci.Publ.,
    -P.Rhys Evans cs eds 2013-2014 Human Evolution conference London May 2013 proceedings, special editions Hum.Evol.28 & 29,
    -M.Verhaegen 2013 The aquatic ape evolves: common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the so-called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis, Hum.Evol.28:237-266" (google: researchGate marc verhaegen).

  2. Since no human bones were found to clearly identify who the makers/users of these tools were, one can also assume/conclude/hypothesize that the tools were transported there by a later user than the original maker(s).

    That humans and their ancestors dispersed along coastal areas and rivers from Oceanside settlements seems to be the most reasonable assumption/conclusion/hypothesis, based on the contemporary evidence that the vast majority of human populations in all continents are inhabiting coastal areas and river valleys.

  3. Yes. The differences between chimps & humans (fat, furless, external nose, huge brain (DHA), remarkably poor olfaction, globular tongue, small mouth & dentition 'MYH16 inactivation) + closed tooth-row, descended hyoid, flat feet etc.) suggest humans ancestors spent a lot of time in the water. Moreover, the anatomical pecularities of archaic Homo suggest that H.erectus-neanderth.-like people spent even more time in the water: low flat skulls & dense & thick skeletons (typical of shallow-diving mammal species), projecting mid-faces & large noses, very broad pelvises (flaring ilia & long femoral necks) etc. This is confirmed by the paleo-anthropological evidence: archaic Homo (erectus- & neandertal-like) are found at sea-coasts, islands (Flores >30 km oversea), river-valleys, oxbow lakes etc., next to edible shellfish (sometimes marine). It's no surprise to me that neandertals are found on Mediterranean islands. The term "aquatic ape" is often misunderstood by many paleo-anthropologists, but "coastal dispersal" (Stephen Munro) seems to be more acceptable, see my recent paper "The aquatic ape evolves: common misconceptions and unproven assumptions about the so-called Aquatic Ape Hypothesis, Hum.Evol.28:237-266", google "researchGate marc verhaegen".

  4. For an update of the littoral theory, google e.g.
    "two incredible logical mistakes 2019 verhaegen".


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