Being somewhat out of touch with reality now (all my mail gets to me after a
couple of week delay and I don't get much news in this hotel in Scotland. We
hope to move into a real house next week) I just became aware that the
archeological site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov has been securely dated to more than
780,000 years ago. The magnetic particles in the soils of the site are reversely
magnetized which means that they had to have been deposited during the last
magnetic reversal which occurred 780,000 years ago. Why should we care about
this? Because it is now the oldest site with direct evidence for the
manufacture of wooden objects.
In 1991 S. Belitszky et al, published this article: "A Middle Pleistocene Wooden
Plank with man-made Polish," Journal of Human Evolution, 1991, 20:349-353. At
that time the site was believed to be between 240 and 800,000 years old.
It seems that a wooden plank with one polished surface was found at an Acheulian
site, Gesher Benot Ya'aqov (GBY) in the Northern Jordan Valley of Israel. The
artifact is 25 cm long, 13.5 cm wide and 4.0 cm thick, broken off at each end.
The sediments containing the plank lie above a basalt that dates at 800,000
years, and the sediments themselves contain an extinct mollusc which is not
found above any surface which dates less than 240,000 years.
This plank was planed from a fairly large branch. In English units, it is 10
inches long, 5 inches wide and 1.5 inches thick. The branch had to be at least
5 inches in diameter.
Here is the conundrum for Christians. During this time period (or for YECs in
rocks with these dates) no known anatomically modern humans are found. The date
range means that the plank was made and polished by Homo erectus! This is a
human-like activity. To make the plank requires that a stone tool be made, that
the branch be cut with the stone tool. Then another stone tool must be made to
plane the wood into a plank. This is much more planning ability than any ape
Belitsky et al conclude with this:
"In other Acheulian sites, in Africa , Europe and Asia, worked wood items were
identified, though no polished artefacts have been previously recorded.
"Thus it is possible that we have underestimated the capacities of the
Middle Pleistocene hominids and further 'unconventional' discoveries may cause
us to revise our opinion of their abilities." p. 352
This must now be altered to read, "we have underestimated the capacities of the
LOWER Pleistocene hominids".
The reference to Asia above was to an article about an Acheulian plank from
Japan (unpolished- P. G. Bahn, 1987, Excavation of a Palaeolithic plank from
Japan, Nature 329, 110.
I won't be able to respond to emails for a while longer.
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