Archaeologists have unearthed the oldest known wooden structure, and it’s almost half a million years old.
The simple structure — found along a riverbank in Zambia — is made up of two interlocking logs, with a notch deliberately crafted into the upper piece to allow them to fit together at right angles, according to a new study of cut marks made by stone tools.
Geoff Duller, a professor of geography and Earth sciences at the University of Aberystwyth in the United Kingdom, was part of the team that made the discovery in 2019. He said the structure, excavated upstream of Kalambo Falls near Zambia’s border with Tanzania, probably would have been part of a wooden platform used as a walkway, to keep food or firewood dry or perhaps as a base on which to build a dwelling. A digging stick and other wooden tools were found at the same site.
“That the wood has remained in place and intact for half a million years is extraordinary. And it gives us this real insight, this window into this time period,” said Duller, coauthor of the study on the wooden structure that published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
“It’s completely changed my view of what people were capable of that time,” he added.
The NATURE paper here: