For an earlier associated
entry , see:
2005 Debora Smith (Science Editor) : Earth's first beachcombers ended up in Australia.
Sydney Morning Herald : Weekend Edition, May 14-15 2005
News : Page 13.
Reporting research developments published in Science, 13 May 2005.
There is no evidence
for boats from this long ago (125,000 years ago), but it seems reasonable
to me to assume that modern humans living on the coast would have had the
ingenuity to invent them.
Small watercraft would have meant that people could have crossed the mouths of rivers and better exploited coastal resources.
If they could see Arabia across the water, and if their families were struggling to survive on the African coast, as Oppenheimer suggests, that voyage seems like a very sensible option.
In fact, there might even have been a maritime community all around the shores of the Red Sea, providing a base from which to spread along the southern coast of Arabia.
Chapter 2: Footprints
of the Ancestors
A Stone Age Voyage: Lombok to Sumbawa, Indonesia.
It is quite likely
that the beachcombers of Sunda (South East Asia) already possessed
the means to make the sea crossing to Sahul
The evidence from Africa, 125,000 years ago, showing exploitation of coastal resources, demonstrates that humans had already developed fully modem capacities, which suggests that they would have been entirely capable of building boats.
David Bulbeck, in a well-reasoned paper entitled 'Where river meets sea', (8) argued that coastal watercraft would have been enormously useful to the early beachcombers, allowing them to cross the mouths of rivers and exploit estuarine environments, to transport food and materials, while providing the sailors with protection from dangers in the water such as saltwater crocodiles.
Bulbeck suggests that the richness of estuarine environments would have promoted population growth, stimulating the colonisers to push further along the rim of the Indian Ocean.
He sees the wave of colonisation creeping eastwards, with regular traffic to and fro, along the entire chain of linked estuarine colonies.
Behind the colonising front, the landscape would have been 'filled in' as people moved inland, along rivers and other suitable habitats - like Ravi Korisettar's chain of lakes across India.
Footnote #8 (Page
8. Bulbeck, D.: Where river meets sea.
A parsimonious model for Homo sapiens colonization of the Indian Ocean rim and Sahul.
Current Anthropology, Number 48, pages 315-321 (2007).
Pages 120 to 128
To replicate an ancient ocean crossing, Roberts accompanies experimental archaeologist Robert Bednrik in a crew of eight paddlers on raft constructed of green bamboo for a voyage from Lombok to Sumbawa that, with minor assistance, takes 10 hours and 25 minutes.
Includes a colour photographic plate between pages 120 and 121.
include (Footnotes #11 and #12 , page 342):
11. Bednatik, R. G.: Maritime navigation in the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic.
Comptes Rendus de l'Acadimie des Sciences: Earth and Planetary Sciences, Number 328, pages 559- 563 (1999).
12. Bednarik, R. G.: Seafaring in the Pleistocene.
Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Number 13, pages 41-66 (2003).
Also note (Footnote
#13 Page 342) :
13. Balter, M.: In search of the world's most ancient mariners.
Science, Number 318, pages 388-389 (2007).
Chapter 5: The
New World: Finding the First Americans
Exploring the Coastal Corridor: Vancouver, Canada.
Canada early in the post-glacial would have been about loom lower than today, the coastline would have been almost as convoluted and fragmented as it is now.
Any coastal hunter-gatherers must have had boats in order to get around and efficiently exploit this environment. (5)
But as it has been argued that modern humans emerging from Africa - some 160,000 years before the Americas were even glimpsed - were adapted to coastal and estuarine environments and probably had watercraft, it seems quite reasonable to assume the early Americans would have used boats to navigate and forage along the coast.
Footnote #5 (Page
5. Erlandson, J. M., Graham, M. H., Bourque, B. J., et al.: The Kelp Highway hypothesis: marine ecology, the coastal migration theory, and the peopling of the Americas.
The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology, Number 2: pages 161-174 (2007).
Chapter 5: The
New World: Finding the First Americans
Finding Arlington Woman: Santa Rosa island, California.
In the case of bones found on Santa Rosa Island, off the Pacific Coast of America:
Radiocarbon dating of the human bone itself, and on an associated extinct mouse deer mandible that was buried close by, yielded a date of around 12,900 years ago - meaning the skeletal remains of 'Arlington Woman' were indeed among the oldest known in North America.
human remains date to several thousand years after the coastal corridor
is thought to have become accessible, they do prove something about the
earliest Californians: they must have used boats. (my
At the height of the last Ice Age, the three islands of San Miguel, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa were joined together, as a single super-island which has been called Santarosae, but it was always separate from the mainland. (3,4)
Footnotes #3 and
#4 (Page 355)
3. Agenbroad, L. D., Johnson, J. R., Mortis, D., et al.: Mammoths and humans as late Pleistocene contemporaries on Santa Rosa Island.
Proceedings of the Sixth California Islands Symposium, pages. 3-7 (2005).
E. J.: Human colonization of the Americas: timing, technology and process.
Quaternary Science Reviews, Number 20, pages 277-299 (2001).
The Incredible Human Journey
BBC - Bloomsbury Publishing
36 Solo Square, London, WID 3QY, 2009.
Illustrations by Alice Roberts.
Maps by Dave Stevens..