World

Some of Britain’s earliest people appear to have settled in Canterbury

EMBARGOED TO WEDNESDAY JUNE 22, 0001. Undated handout image issued by the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, showing the fossil skull cat of Homo Heidelbergenis. The Canterbury suburbs were home to some of Britain's earliest humans, discoveries dating back 600,000 years have revealed. NOTE The skull was not found in the last excavation. Issue date: Wednesday June 22, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SCIENCE Humans. Photo credit should read: Giuseppe Castelli Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to simultaneously represent events, things or people in the image or the facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

The fossil skull of Homo Heidelbergenis. (Credit: PA)

The Canterbury suburbs were home to some of Britain’s earliest people, new discoveries have revealed.

Research confirms that Homo heidelbergensis, an ancestor of the Neanderthals, inhabited southern Britain 560,000 to 620,000 years ago when it was still connected to Europe.

This makes it one of the earliest known Palaeolithic sites in northern Europe.

Archaeological finds on the outskirts of the cathedral city in Kent also point to some of the earliest animal skin processing in European prehistory.

The finds come a century after stone tool artifacts were first discovered at the Fordwich site.

Set in an ancient riverbed, the site was originally discovered in the 1920s when local workers were excavating artifacts known as hand axes (now mainly in the British Museum).

EMBARGOED TO WEDNESDAY JUNE 22, 0001. Undated handout image issued by the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, Cambridge, showing a hand axe artifact. The Canterbury suburbs were home to some of Britain's earliest humans, discoveries dating back 600,000 years have revealed. Issue date: Wednesday June 22, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SCIENCE Humans. Photo credit should read: Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, Cambridge/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to simultaneously illustrate any event, thing or person in the photo or any fact mentioned in the photo caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

A hand ax artifact found at the site. (Credit: PA)

But by applying modern dating techniques to new excavations, their age has finally been determined.

Led by the University of Cambridge Archaeological Department, recent excavations have not only dated the original site but also identified new flint artefacts, including the very first ‘scrapers’ to be discovered there.

Researchers dated these stone tools using infrared radiofluorescence (IR-RF) dating – a technique that determines when feldspar sand grains were last exposed to sunlight, and thus when they were buried.

Early humans are known to have had a presence in Britain as early as 840,000 and possibly 950,000 years ago, but early visits were fleeting, the study says.

EMBARGOED TO WEDNESDAY JUNE 22, 0001. Undated handout picture issued by the Department of Archeology, University of Cambridge, showing an illustration by Gabriel Ugeto of Homo Heidelbergenis making a flint hand axe. The Canterbury suburbs were home to some of Britain's earliest humans, discoveries dating back 600,000 years have revealed. Issue date: Wednesday June 22, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SCIENCE Humans. Photo credit should read: Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to simultaneously illustrate events, things or people in the photo or any facts mentioned in the photo caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

An illustration by Gabriel Ugeto of Homo Heidelbergenis making a hand ax out of flint. (Credit: PA)

dr Tobias Lauer of the University of Tübingen in Germany, who led the dating of the new site, said: “That’s one of the wonderful things about this site in Kent.

“The artifacts are located exactly where the ancient river placed them, meaning we can say with confidence they were made before the river flowed to another area of ​​the valley.”

dr Alastair Key from the University of Cambridge, who led the excavation, adds: “The variety of tools is fantastic.

“In the 1920s the site produced some of the earliest hand axes ever discovered in Britain.

“Now, for the first time, we have found rare evidence of scratching and stabbing devices at this very young age.”

Homo heidelbergensis was a hunter-gatherer known for eating a variety of animal and plant foods, meaning many of the tools may have been used to process animal carcasses, possibly deer, horses, rhinos, and bison; as well as tubers and other plants.

Researchers say evidence of this can be seen in the sharp-edged flake and hand-axe tools present at the site.

EMBARGOED TO WEDNESDAY JUNE 22, 0001. Undated handout image issued by Alastair Key showing a selection of flint artifacts excavated at the site. The Canterbury suburbs were home to some of Britain's earliest humans, discoveries dating back 600,000 years have revealed. Issue date: Wednesday June 22, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SCIENCE Humans. Photo credit should read: Alastair Key/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to simultaneously illustrate events, things or people in the photo or facts mentioned in the photo caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

A selection of flint artefacts excavated at the site. (Credit: PA)

However, the presence of scratching and piercing tools suggests that other activities may have been undertaken.

dr Tomos Proffitt of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, who analyzed the artifacts, said: “Scrapers were often associated with the production of animal skins during the Paleolithic.

“The discovery of these artifacts could therefore indicate that people prepared animal skins during this period, possibly for clothing or shelter.

“The selection of stone tools, not only from the original finds but also from our new smaller digs, suggests that the hominins that inhabited what was later Britain thrived, not just survived.”

The results are published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

MORE : 13,000 priceless relics unearthed at ancient archaeological site in China

MORE: 1.2-inch Roman penis pendant with ‘foreskin, shaft and pubic hair’ unearthed in Kent

https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/22/some-of-britains-earliest-humans-apparently-settled-in-canterbury-16871832/ Some of Britain's earliest people appear to have settled in Canterbury

Justin Scacco

InternetCloning is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@internetcloning.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button