Κυριακή, 30 Αυγούστου 2015

Petralona Cave Greece - The oldest European Hominid in Prehistoric Greece

The Petralona cave (Σπήλαιο Πετραλώνων) is located in Chalkidiki (Greece), 1 km away to the east of the eponymous village, about 35 km S-E of Thessaloniki and on the west side of Mount Katsika. Often designated as the "Petralona skull", Archanthropus europaeus petraloniensis, oldest European hominid, was found there. The Anthropological Museum of Petralona on the site displays some of the finds from the cave. The cave was accidentally discovered in 1959 by Fillipos Chatzaridis, a local shepherd looking for a spring. Early estimates at the time placed the age of the hominid remains to around 70,000 years old. A skull now known as the Petralona skull was estimated to be about 700,000 years old by Aris Poulianos a date backed by geological analysis. During the 1980s, the age of the Petralona hominid estimated by Poulianos was challenged by an article in Nature. The scientists involved used electron spin resonance measurements and dated the age of the skull to between 160,000 and 240,000 years old.  However, Poulianos states that his excavations in the cave since 1968 provide evidence of human occupation from the
 Pleistocene era. The Petralona hominid, specifically, was located in a stratigraphic layer containing the most amount of tools and traces of habitation. Poulianos states that the age of the overall layer is approximately 670,000 years old, based on electron spin resonance measurements. Further excavations at Petralona revealed two human skeletons that were dated to be 800,000 years old. Today, most academics who have analyzed the Petralona remains classify the hominid as Homo erectus. However, the Archanthropus of Petralona has also been classified as a Neanderthal (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) and as an early generic class of Homo sapiens. Some authors, on the other hand, believe that the Petralona cranium is derived from a unique class of hominids different from Homo erectus. Runnels and van Andel summarise the situation as such : "The only known hominid fossil in Greece that may be relevant is the Petralona hominid, found by chance in 1960 in a deep cavern in the Chalkidiki. Controversy surrounds the interpretation of this cranium, and it has been variously classified as Homo erectus, as a classic Neanderthal (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis), and as an early representative of Homo sapiens in a generalized sense (Day 1986: 91-95). The consensus among paleoanthropologists today is that the cranium belongs to an archaic hominid distinguished from Homo erectus, and from both the classic Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans (Day 1986: 95; Stringer, Howell, and Melenitis 1979). Whatever the final classification may be, the cranium has been provisionally dated to ca. 200-400 kyr (Day 1986: 94 Hennig et al. 1981, 1982; Wintle and Jacobs 1982), and it is thus possible that the Petralona hominid represents the lineage responsible for the Thessalian Lower Paleolithic sites." Further research in the cave has yielded 4 isolated teeth, then two pre-human skeletons dated about 800,000 years, a great number of fossils of various species and what is considered as the oldest traces of fire known to this day. The fossils have been at the Geology School of the Thessaloniki Aristotle University since 1960. Aris Poulianos (born on July 24, 1924, in Ikaria, North Aegean) is a Greek anthropologist  and  archaeologist. Since the 1970s, Poulianos has investigated early hominid remains found in a cave near Petralona, Greece, and has become known for controversial claims over their age. According to Poulianos, the Petralona Cave was accidentally discovered in 1959 by local villagers searching for a spring in the mountainside. The Petralona skull, specifically, was discovered in 1960 when it was removed from a rock in the cave. Early estimates at the time placed the age of the hominid remains to around 70,000 years old. Poulianos would ultimately study the remains, name the hominid Archanthropus europeaus petraloniensis, and estimate its age to be around 700,000 years old. During the 1980s, the age of the Petralona hominid estimated by Poulianos was challenged by an article in Nature. The scientists involved used electron spin resonance 
measurements and dated the age of the skull to between 160,000 and 240,000 years old. 
 However, Poulianos states that his excavations in the cave since 1968 provide evidence of human occupation from the Pleistocene era. The Petralona hominid, specifically, was located in a stratigraphic layer containing the most amount of tools and traces of habitation. Poulianos states that the age of the overall layer is approximately 670,000 years old, based on electron spin resonance measurements. Further excavations at Petralona revealed two human skeletons that were dated to be 800,000 years old. Today, most academics who have analyzed the Petralona remains classify the hominid as Homo erectus. However, the Archanthropus of Petralona has also been classified as a Neanderthal (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) and as an early generic class of Homo sapiens. Some authors, on the other hand, believe that the Petralona cranium is derived from a unique class of hominids different from Homo erectus. Runnels and van Andel summarise the situation as such : "The only known hominid fossil in Greece that may be relevant is the Petralona hominid, found by chance in 1960 in a deep cavern in the Chalkidiki. Controversy surrounds the interpretation of this cranium, and it has been variously classified as Homo erectus, as a classic Neanderthal (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis), and as an early representative of Homo sapiens in a generalized sense (Day 1986: 91-95). The consensus among paleoanthropologists today is that the cranium belongs to an archaic hominid distinguished from Homo erectus, and from both the classic Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans (Day 1986: 95; Stringer, Howell, and Melenitis 1979). Whatever the final classification may be, the cranium has been provisionally dated to ca. 200-400 kyr (Day 1986: 94 Hennig et al. 1981, 1982; Wintle and Jacobs 1982), and it is thus possible that the Petralona hominid represents the lineage responsible for the Thessalian Lower Paleolithic sites." In September 1995, Poulianos presented a calcified tibia found in Triglia, Chalkidiki, which he claimed belonged to a Homo erectus form he termed Homo erectus trilliensis, and which he dated to 11 million years before the present. Poulianos believes that his discovery may challenge the Out of Africa theory regarding human evolution. The Anthropological Museum of Petralona is thirty-five kilometres from Thessaloniki, in Central Macedonia, Greece. It displays finds from the nearby Petralona cave, in which the oldest European hominid skull was found. The village of Petralona is on the old Thessaloniki–Nea Moudanianational highway. The cave and the anthropological museum are a further 2 km beyond the village. The museum was built and financed in 1978 by the Anthropological Society of Greece (AEE), which owns it. It opened in 1979. The purpose of the museum is to showcase the finds from the Petralona cave, the prehistoric culture of Greece, and finds representing the entire palaeoanthropological area of Greece. The finds include replicas of the mausoleum of Archanthropus europeus petralonsiensis, the oldest traces of fire ever found (from the 24th geological stratum in the Petralona cave, which is more than one million years old), the earliest stone and bone tools, which were found at Nea Triglia in Chalkidiki (11 million years old), and finds from open spaces before the cave-dwelling era in Nea Triglia, the island of Euboea,
 Ptolemaida, the Aegean, other parts of Greece, and Africa. There are also murals by the folk painter Christos Kagaras illustrating the emergence of life on Earth and Archanthropus
 teaching his children how to make tools of stone and bone, the evolution of life according to Aristotle, and the evolution of human life over the last 11 million years according to Poulianos. The museum has a conference room, geological and palaeoanthropological conservation workshops, and a library.
Πηγη: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petralona_cave
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aris_Poulianos
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropological_Museum_of_Petralona

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