Stone Wall 23,000 years old

28 Jan 2018

At ... I missed this back in 2010 - a 23,000 year old stone wall in front of a cave in Lalambaka in Greece, probably built to protect residents of the cave from cold winds or wild animals. It is apparently the oldest known example of a man made structure. It has all the hall marks of a Mesolithic repertoire but here might be a problem as Mesolithic people elsewhere appear after the end of the  Late Glacial Maximum (but this is slam bang in the middle of it). That is not to say they did not have a Mesolithic life style as the post-LGM Mesolithic people had to come from somewhere after the ice sheet retreated. What is more difficult to get your head around is that these people were using barley, wheat and lentils in the wild, as well as their cultivars. This, we are led to believe, implies these people discovered cultivation as a result of their own efforts and not as a result of migration out of the Near East (and the Fertile Crescent). Agriculture seems to have developed from the gathering of wild plants - or it did in the Americas. The domestication of the wild species through selective planting to aquire desired food improvement is all part of he process. However, 23,000 years ago appears too old for this kind of activity we are told - and a note of scepticism creeps in. However, wheat was native to SW Anatolia and that is just the other side of the Aegean Sea and lentils and barley are part of the Near East agri package (but how far west in Anatolia did it stretch). Domesticated cereals are usually dated 11,000 to 13,000 years ago - after the end of the LGM. This discovery sticks out like a sore thumb - has it been securely dated?

The assumption has always been that the Ice Age climate was not friendly to agriculture and the author suspects that although occupation of the cave goes back 23,000 years ago occupation continued to at least 5000 years ago (to account for the presence of wheat,barley and lentils). At this point the age of the wall is forgotten. Not only that, he says dating methodologies failed to distinguish this fact - which may be a reasonable assumption (but what if?) 

He accepts that people on the Greek mainland were probably all part of same cultural community that developed agriculture in Anatolia - and the Fertile Crescent. I suppose this inconvenient find has duly been forgotten by mainstream - or explained as a case of bad archaeological practise. One hopes further revelations will materialise in the course of time. See also