According to a study published in Quaternary Science Reviews, the scientists may have found the earliest, securely-dated, record of hominin occupation in Turkey.
Anatolia lies at the gateway from Asia into Europe and has frequently been favoured as a route for Early Pleistocene hominin dispersal.
Although early hominins are known to have occupied Turkey, with numerous finds of Lower Palaeolithic artefacts documented, the chronology of their dispersal has little reliable stratigraphical or geochronological constraint, sites are rare, and the region’s hominin history remains poorly understood as a result, says the study.
The scientists located a Palaeolithic artefact – a hard-hammer flake, from fluvial sediments associated with the Early Pleistocene Gediz River of Western Turkey.
This previously documented buried river terrace sequence provides a clear stratigraphical context for the find and affords opportunities for independent age estimation using the numerous basaltic lava flows that emanated from nearby volcanic necks and aperiodically encroached onto the contemporary valley floors, says the study.
New 40Ar/39Ar age estimates from these flows are reported here which, together with palaeomagnetic measurements, allow a tightly-constrained chronology for the artefact-bearing sediments to be established.
These results suggest that hominin occupation of the valley occurred within a time period spanning 1.24 Ma to 1.17 Ma, making this the earliest, securely-dated, record of hominin occupation in Anatolia.