Africa is not just referred to as “Cradle of Mankind” and the land of great ancient civilizations for no reason atall.
The discoveries below not only proves why, but also shows the effectiveness of research centers in Africa, especially in partnerships with international scientific institutions specializing in anthropology and archeology.
In no particular order, Here are the Top Five Latest Archeological Discoveries in Africa (2013-2017)
1. Discovery of the Oldest Stone Tools in the World (2015)
It is a small stone that changed everything. It was described in 2015 as the greatest archeological discovery after the famous “Australopithecus Lucy” fossil was discovered in 1974, in Ethiopia, by
paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
This small stone tool was discovered in turkana lake area of Northern kenya, with about a hundred other prehistoric tools by a team of researchers led by archaeologist, Sonia Harmand of Stony Brook University.
The discovery overturned all that has been known so far in the lives of early men as it dates back 3.3 million years. That’s 700,000 years older than the oldest-known tools to date, suggesting that our ancestors were crafting tools several hundred thousand years before the arrival of genus Homo.
2. The Discovery of Homo Naledi, An Ancient Human Species (2017)
Country: South Africa
An ancient human species, previously unknown, was discovered in a cave in South Africa, where more than 1,550 bones belonging to at least 15 individuals, including babies, young adults, and the elderly were exhumed. The new species was baptized Homo naledi and classified in the genus, Homo, to which modern man belongs.
The fossils were found in a deep and extremely difficult-to-maneuver cave near Johannesburg on the very rich archaeological site known as the “ Cradle of Humanity,” and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“I am delighted to present a new species of the human race,” said Lee Berger, a researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
What was it like? “He had a tiny brain the size of an orange and a very slender body,” said John Hawks, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He measured an average of 1.5 meters and weighed 45 kilos. His hands “suggest that he had the ability to handle tools, his fingers were extremely curved, while it is virtually impossible to distinguish his feet from those of a modern man,” a statement said.
3. Discovery of A 2.8 million year old Jawbone Fossil (2013)
A lower jaw bone and five teeth discovered on a hillside in Ethiopia are the oldest remains ever found that belong to the genus Homo, the lineage that ultimately led to modern humans.
This small piece of bone, ornamented with five teeth, two premolars and three molars, was spotted by Ethiopian palaeontologist, Chalachew Seyoum, in 2013 in an excavation area, Ledi-Geraru, in the Afar region of Ethiopia.
The US-led research team believes the individual lived about 2.8m years ago, when the now parched landscape was open grassland and shrubs nourished by tree-lined rivers and wetlands.
The remains are about 400,000 years older than fossils which had previously held the record as the earliest known specimens on the Homo lineage.
4. Oldest Fossils of Homo sapiens (2017)
An international team of archaelogists recently discovered the oldest Homo sapiens dating at around 300,000 years old, that look a lot like Homo sapiens and were found in the Jebel Irhoud cave in Morocco. The team of archeologists was led by Professor Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig, Germany) and Professor Abdelouahed Ben-Ncer of the National Institute of Archeology and Heritage of Rabat made the discovery.
These individuals were not “modern humans” like us, but a slightly earlier form of Homo sapiens, one with a less developed brain and perhaps other differences in its DNA. Says hublin. And he says these differences between us and them are proof that evolution occurs over a gradient. It also shows the biggest evolutionary change we’ve undergone in the past 300,000 years is in the size of our brains.
This archaelogical discovery changes many theories and concepts about the history of humanity, especially the theories and concepts of modern human evolution. “It refutes the theory that modern man has evolved in one place in Africa, but posits the hypothesis of this evolution throughout the entire African continent, not just its east,” says Moroccan Researcher and Professor of History and Civilization at Hassan
II University in Casablanca, Dr. Zine El Abidine.
5. Discovery of Six Mummies In The Tomb Of The Time Of The Pharaohs (2017)
In a 3500-year-old tomb near the city of Luxor, Egyptian archaeologists discovered eight mummies, colorful wooden sarcophagi, and more than a thousand funerary statues. These
artefacts were discovered near the
Valley of the Kings, which is thought to be the main place of burial for pharaohs and noblemen.
“It’s an important discovery, and it’s not over,” says Minister of Antiquities, Khaled al-Anani, during a visit to the site. “There are about six mummies, but there are other fragments indicating that there could be more in the future,”
Archaeological research has always proved fruitful in Egypt. The local authorities have given several archeological research projects the green light with the hope of finding new discoveries in the area.