Abstract: Crete before the Cretans: New Evidence for Very Ancient Mariners


On Crete, a collection of stone tools dated to at least 130,000 years ago has provided the earliest known evidence for seafaring in the Mediterranean, and possibly the world, pushing back the date by over 110,000 years. The Paleolithic artifacts, which include hand-axes hewn from milky quartz and a number of scrapers and cores, were found at the mouth of the Preveli Gorge near Plakias on the island’s south coast by Providence College archaeologist Thomas Strasser and his Greek colleague Eleni Panagopoulou. Reaching Crete, which has been an island for some five million years, required an open-water crossing of substantive distances. Prior to the discovery, the earliest-known and datable evidence for seafaring in the Mediterranean was approximately 15,000 years ago.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

2010 Strasser, T., E. Panagopoulou, C. Runnels, P. Murray, N. Thompson, P. Karkanes, F. McCoy, and K. Wegmann, “Stone Age Seafaring in the Mediterranean: Evidence for Lower Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Inhabitation of Crete from the Plakias Region,” Hesperia 79(2): 145-190.

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