A small but significant find made during a geological survey provides evidence of the oldest human presence yet discovered along the northernmost margin of Egypt's Nile delta.
A rock fragment carried by humans to the site was discovered in a sediment core section north of Burullus lagoon near the Mediterranean coast.
Radiocarbon analysis of plant-rich matter in the mud surrounding the object provides a date of 3350 to 3020 B.C., the late Predynastic period.
This long, thin object, formed of dolomite, had not been deposited by the Nile or the sea, but was collected and transported from an outcrop exposure positioned at least 160 kilometers south of the core site. The fragile object lay buried at a depth of 7.5 meters in dark mud deposited in a brackish lagoon setting close to a marsh.
Stanley et al.'s fortuitous find documents an early human presence in the mid-Holocene wetlands along the delta's paleocoast, a sector where traditional excavation and augering are normally incapable of reaching zones of ancient human activity now at considerable subsurface depths.
Journal reference: Jean-Daniel Stanley et al. August 2008 Geology, Pages 599-602.
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