History in the making: new discoveries that change everything

There is a lot left to learn about this world.

Over the last year, there have been a number of highly important scientific and historic discoveries made. Among these discoveries is the world’s oldest sundial, a lost microcontinent off of the coast of Africa and stone spearheads dating back 250,000 years farther than scientists had previously predicted.

“History is like any venture of study and process,” said Scott Weiss ‘12. “Discoveries like these, while scientific in nature, add to the complexity of our understanding of the development of our society and culture.”

 

Sundial Found in the Valley of the Kings

A limestone sundial, believed to date back to the thirteenth century B.C., was found in the Valley of Kings in Egypt. The sundial is thought to be one of the world’s oldest and was likely used to measure the work day.

This artifact is marked with a black semicircle that is separated into 12 sections. Each section is believed to represent the hours of a day. There is also a hole in the top of the sundial, suggesting that it once hung on a wall.

“This piece is … roughly one thousand years older than what was generally accepted as (the) time when this type of time measuring device was used,” said Susanne Bickel of the University of Basel to The Huffington Post.

 

Lost Microcontinent Found in the Indian Ocean

Tourist destination and volcanic island Mauritius, located about a thousand miles east of Madagascar, is now believed to be part of an ancient sunken microcontinent, a fragment of a larger continent that broke off of the main mass to form distinct islands.

Scientists have named the microcontinent Mauritia and believe it to be about a quarter of the size of Madagascar.

Mauritia was swallowed by the ocean when India broke apart from Madagascar some 85 million years ago.

The landmasses “were tucked together in one big continent prior to the formation of the Indian Ocean,” said Bjorn Jamtveit, geologist at the University of Oslo, to National Geographic.

 

Stone Spear Tips Found in South Africa

Spear tips made of stone, believed to be half a million years old, have been found in South Africa. The spear tips date back 250,000 years earlier than when scientists had previously estimated spear tips were in use.

The spear tips were found in a Homo heidelbergensis site. The Homo heidelbergensis were an early human species noted as the first to live in colder climates and to build shelters.

Due to the communication required for their creation, these spear tips may also be a sign that Homo heidelbergensis was also one of the earliest human ancestors to develop language.

The discovery is “like finding an iPod in a Roman Empire site,” said paleoanthropologist John Shea to the National Geographic. “It’s that level of weirdness.”

Discoveries such as these prove just how much we still have to learn about this earth we call home.

“Honestly, hearing these discoveries in conjunction leads me to say aliens,” said Weiss. “Also, an ancient continent east of Madagascar? Is anyone else thinking Atlantis?”