world’s oldest wooden structure unearthed in zambia


Researchers from the University of Liverpool and Aberystwyth University have discovered the earliest evidence of wooden structures built by humans, dating back at least 476,000 years. The team unearthed this artifact at the archaeological site of Kalambo Falls on the Kalombo River in Zambia — predating the evolution of our species, Homo sapiens. Expert analysis of the wood revealed stone tool cut marks, suggesting that it was deliberately shaped and joined together to form a structure, probably the foundation of a platform or part of a dwelling. Digging up the world’s oldest wooden structure challenges the prevailing view that Stone Age humans were nomadic and proposes their capabilities of building settlements at Kalambo Falls. Lying above a 235-meter-tall waterfall on the border of Zambia, the area of discovery is tentatively considered a World Heritage site by UNESCO, given its archaeological significance.

archaeologists discover world’s oldest wood structure in zambia, dating back 476,000 years
image: screenshot, The Earliest Wood Structure, courtesy HLC Digital



surprising clues emerge from luminescence dating techniques


To determine the age of the world’s oldest wooden structure, luminescence dating techniques were strategically employed by the team. These new methods have far-reaching implications for archaeology, allowing scientists to date finds much further back in time. ‘This find has changed how I think about our early ancestors. Forget the label’ Stone Age,’ look at what these people were doing: they made something new, and large, from wood. They used their intelligence, imagination, and skills to create something they’d never seen before, something that had never previously existed. They transformed their surroundings to make life easier, even if it was only by making a platform to sit on by the river to do their daily chores. These folks were more like us than we thought,’ shares Professor Larry Barham from the University of Liverpool‘s Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology.


This research is part of the Deep Roots of Humanity project, which Professor Barnham is leading. This project explores how human technology developed during the Stone Age and is funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council. It includes teams from Zambia’s National Heritage Conservation Commission, Livingstone Museum, Moto Moto Museum, and National Museum in Lusaka. For those interested, the complete research paper is available here

archaeologists discover world’s oldest wood structure in zambia, dating back 476,000 years
unearthing the world’s oldest wooden structure in Zambia | image courtesy University of Liverpool

archaeologists discover world’s oldest wood structure in zambia, dating back 476,000 years
the artifact dates back at least 476,000 years | image courtesy University of Liverpool





project info:


name: world’s oldest wooden structure

dating: 476,000 years old 

location: Kalambo Falls, Zambia 

discovery by: researchers from University of Liverpool & Aberystwyth University 

project: Deep Roots of Humanity