London: Scientists have discovered the oldest recorded stone tool ever to be found in Turkey, providing a new insight into when and how early humans dispersed out of Africa and Asia.
The tool was found in the ancient deposits of river Gediz in western Turkey.
The finding reveals that humans passed through the gateway from Asia to Europe approximately 1.2 million years ago, much earlier than previously thought.
"Our research suggests that the flake is the earliest securely-dated artefact from Turkey ever recorded and was dropped on the floodplain by an early hominin well over a million years ago," said professor Danielle Schreve from Royal Holloway, University of London.
"This discovery is critical for establishing the timing and route of early human dispersal into Europe," Schreve added.
The researchers used high-precision equipment to establish that "humanly-worked quartzite flake" belonged to people present in the area approximately 1.24 million and 1.17 million years ago.
"The flake was an incredibly exciting find," Schreve stressed.
"I had been studying the sediments in the meander bend and my eye was drawn to a pinkish stone on the surface. When I turned it over for a better look, the features of a humanly-struck artefact were immediately apparent," she said.
The study was published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.