KOMPAS.com – Archaeologists say the dwelling place in Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert was home to early humans two million years ago. This makes it the oldest home in human history.
In a scientific article in Quaternary Science Reviews, a team from the University of Toronto, Canada, and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, dated dwellings by testing sediment in caves.
The lead author of the journal, Professor Ron Shaar, explains determining the age of occupancy in caves is the team’s most challenging work of archaeologists.
The solution, said Shaar, is that the team analyzed a 2.5 meter thick layer of sediment containing stone tools, animal remains and fire traces using two methods: paleomagnetism and burial dating.
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“We carefully took hundreds of very small sediment samples from the cave walls and measured their magnetic signals,” said Shaar.
Magnetization occurs when clay particles enter the cave from the outside, fall on the floor of the cave, and thereby perpetuate the direction of the magnetic field at that time.
“Our laboratory analysis shows some of the samples are magnetized to the south, not to the north, which is the direction of the current magnetic field,” said Shaar.
Shaar explained that the date for changing the direction of the magnetic field has been recognized globally.
“This provides clues about the age of the entire layer sequence in the cave,” he added.
Professor Ari Matmon’s team members used the second dating method to find out when humans first entered and lived in this cave.