1.4 million flint blade discovered in prehistoric caves in Spain
Yesterday we reported on a new excavation project underway in the caves of Atapuerca in Spain, a world heritage site which has already offered up hundreds of incredible items belonging to our prehistoric ancestors. Now, the team of dozens of archaeologists has made their first major discovery during the latest dig – a 1.4 million-year-old flint blade . The discovery marks the earliest sign of human presence at the site ever found.
The 3-cm long blade, which came from a carving knife, was found in the Elephant Chasm cave, where researchers previously found a 1.2 million-year-old human finger and jawbone belonging to the remains of the oldest European ancestor.
During the latest digging season, archaeologists also managed to extract a fossil first spotted in 2005, which has taken seven years of work to release it from a block of calcified clay; it was found to be the fossilized shoulder blade of a child between the ages of 4 and 6 dating back 800,000 years.
The Atapuerca caves are significant because they cover “a very long period of time, practically from when the first humans arrived in Europe, up to the present day," says Jose Maria Bermudez de Castro, one of the directors of the dig.
The discovery of the flint blade along with other stone tools found over various ages confirms the continuity of human settlement in Europe and contradicts the theory that Europe was populated in small waves by groups doomed to extinction because of an inability to adapt to new surroundings.