Humans may have sailed across the sea to new lands as far back as 500,000 years ago.

There is no other way that the ancient hominins could have gotten to the Aegean Islands. Archeologists have found artifacts on the islands that were pre-dating the appearance of Homo sapiens.

It's possible that these ancient humans were able to traverse large bodies of water. If reliance on land bridges was not required for human migration, it could have implications for how our ancestors and modern humans spread throughout the world.

It's hard to say when hominins began sea-faring. It's not uncommon for boats to be made of wood, a material that doesn't often survive the ravages of time. There is no hope of a record of the first boats in the ocean.

We have a record of artifacts and bones that have survived and analysis tools that allow us to reconstruct how the world has changed over time. The new analysis was conducted by a team of researchers led by George Ferentinos.

Among the world's most beautiful places are the islands of the Aegean. There are hundreds of islands in the Aegean Sea between Turkey, Greece, and Crete. They've been inhabited for a long time, with artifacts dating as far back as 476,000 years ago.

The ancient tools on Lesbos, Milos, and Naxos have been linked to the style of Homo erectus. The tools have been found in Turkey, Greece, and Crete, so it makes sense that they are in the archipelago.

Studies have suggested that ancient humans walked to the islands. Humans are able to cross the ocean when the sea level drops.

The map of the reconstructed Aegean Islands, showing the land masses at different sea levels. (Ferentinos et al., Quat. Int., 2022)

Ferentinos and his colleagues reconstructed the geography of the region to see if this is possible. They used ancient riverdeltas, which can be used to infer sea level and rates of subsidence.

They discovered that previous reconstructions were wrong. The sea level was lower over the last 450,000 years than it is now.

While some of the Aegean Islands were connected to each other when sea levels were higher, the islands have remained completely isolated from the land mass around them. It would have taken several kilometers of open water to get to the nearest Aegean Islands.

The earliest sea crossing may not have been this one. Between 700,000 and a million years ago, archaic humans were believed to have traveled the sea around Indonesia and the Philippines.

The human ancestors and relatives that came before may have been the progenitors of the skill of sea travel.

The researchers say that the archaic hominins were capable of crossing the Gibraltar Straits.

We can revise the generally accepted view on the peopling of southwestern Europe from the Sinai Peninsula and Levantine plains staging post via the Anatolia coastal zone, based on the consensus that sea-crossing took place.

The research has appeared in a journal.