Did Pre-Humans Build Log Cabins?
Evolutionary anthropologists are in trouble again
with too-early evidence of intelligent design
To one researcher, wooden structures uncovered in Zambia look like toy Lincoln Logs—wood planks shaped to fit together at right angles into a structure. Are they really 476,000 years old, a hundred thousand Darwin Years before Homo sapiens supposedly evolved?
There are two major problems for evolutionists in this story. One is the intelligence of the makers, who were not supposed to be fully human yet. The other is the dating: how could wooden logs be as old as claimed?
Archaeologists discover world’s oldest wooden structure (University of Liverpool, 20 Sept 2023). The opening sentences reveal the problem. Notice the “surprise effect” on the evolutionists. Did they expect to find something like this?
Half a million years ago, earlier than was previously thought possible, humans were building structures made of wood, according to new research by a team from the University of Liverpool and Aberystwyth University.
The research, published in the journal Nature, reports on the excavation of well-preserved wood at the archaeological site of Kalambo Falls, Zambia, dating back at least 476,000 years and predating the evolution of our own species, Homo sapiens.
Complete the clause “earlier than was previously thought possible.” Who thought it was impossible? Evolutionists. Pre-humans were not supposed to be smart enough to build things like this. Have they forgotten that the arrival of Homo erectus on islands would have required the ability to build rafts or boats? Unlike creationists, who believe God created humans highly intelligent from the start, evolutionists believe that intelligence evolved gradually from ape ancestors.
This is the earliest evidence from anywhere in the world of the deliberate crafting of logs to fit together. Until now, evidence for the human use of wood was limited to its use for making fire, digging sticks and spears.
Half-million-year-old wooden structure unearthed (BBC News, 20 Sept 2023). “The discovery of ancient wooden logs in the banks of a river in Zambia has changed archaeologists’ understanding of ancient human life.” Logically, if this “changed understanding” of ancient life, then the previous understanding was not understanding at all. Understanding must coincide with truth.
The findings, published in the journal Nature, suggest stone-age people built what may have been shelters. “This find has changed how I think about our early ancestors,” archaeologist Prof Larry Barham said.
Humorously, this article by Victoria Gill actually uses a photo of toy Lincoln Logs to show how the uncovered planks notched at the ends might have been used to build a log cabin. This was “something extraordinary” to find, according to the discoverers.
“They made something new, and large, from wood,” Prof Barham said. “They used their intelligence, imagination and skills to create something they’d never seen before, something that had never previously existed.”
Isn’t that what intelligent designers do? Perhaps there was a mutation that a Blind Watchmaker selected to make this happen. Or maybe Darwin’s Tinkerer gambled with the Stuff Happens Law and the idea of Tinker Toys emerged in a hominin’s material brain. One mustn’t assume that a higher intelligence endowed humans with intelligence. According to the rules of academia, it had to “emerge” by material causes.
The Raw Material in Nature
Is there any doubt in the minds of any of the scientists or reporters about the claims? Or are the evolutionists willing to suspend their disbelief to maintain their evolutionary timeline?
Hominins built with wood 476,000 years ago (Nature News & Views, 20 Sept 2023). Most of this article is behind a paywall. The opening sentences mention that “The archaeological record is biased against the preservation of organic materials.” It should be considered preposterous to believe that wood could last half a million years—beside a riverbank, no less—in all kinds of weather, and under attack by burrowing animals in the soil. Wooden cabins deteriorate rapidly in modern times, in just decades or centuries.
These ancient whittled logs could be the earliest known wooden structure (Nature News, 20 Sept 2023). Ewen Callaway points out that the evidence presupposes the builders’ ability to chop down trees and use tools to shape the planks into materials for assembling into a purposeful structure. This would have required minds capable of foresight and intentionality.
Now, remnants of this ancient woodworking have been found at an archaeological site in Zambia called Kalambo Falls. Researchers can’t definitively identify the possible structure, which might have been a raised platform, a shelter or something else entirely. Whatever it was, it pre-dates the evolution of Homo sapiens by more than 100,000 years, hinting that hominins that lived long before our own species were already working wood.
Callaway quotes Larry Barham saying that if evidence like this had been preserved more often, “we would probably use the term wood age rather than stone age.” As scientists are wont to say, ‘absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.’ By implication, there could have been many wooden structures built by early humans about which we know little. But could any last for half a million Darwin Years? This was an “unexpected discovery,” says Callaway in a subheading. The evolutionary anthropologists and archaeologists “didn’t expect to find wood” – especially at a “waterlogged site” like this.
The two large objects befuddled Barham until he got his hands on US building toys called Lincoln Logs. These are notched at the ends, allowing two pieces to be securely stacked perpendicular to one another. The notch on the Kalambo log could serve the same purpose, Barham says. “They were building something which was ― at least in one direction ― stable.”
Why do they say these artifacts are so old?
A technique called luminescence dating suggests that the large wooden objects are at least 476,000 years old, and some of the smaller tools are slightly younger. No hominin remains have been found at Kalambo Falls, but a 300,000-year-old skull from another Zambian site has been identified as Homo heidelbergensis, a possible common ancestor of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis).
Let’s think about this claim. According to the evolutionists, intelligent human ancestors built Lincoln-Log-like structures nearly half a million years ago. Then, 176,000 years later—in the same area of Zambia—”Heidelberg Man” was tromping around. This was more than 17 times all recorded human history. And yet not one of these upright-walking, tool-making, fire-using beings ever thought of inventing a wheel, building a corral or farm, or using stones to make a permanent home? Clearly the evolutionary timeline is driving the evidence, like a cart before the horse.
Regarding “Heidelberg Man” (Homo heidelbergensis), see our previous reports:
- Hominids, Homonyms, and Homo sapiens (27 May 2009). A glimpse into the sausage factory of classification of human ancestors.
- Neanderthal-Heidelberg Distinction Blurs (14 June 2012). Heidelberg and Neanderthal traits overlap.
- Good-bye Heidelberg Man: You Never Existed (11 July 2014). Some call this designation “a paleoanthropologist’s construct.”
- Fossils Destroy Human Evolution Story Again (16 Feb 2017). Leading paleoanthropologists have come to doubt the intermediate status of Heidelberg Man.
- 350,000-Year-Old Skull Looks Shockingly Like Modern Human (11 July 2018). A modern human skull from Morocco predates Heidelberg Man, indicating that the latter is merely a variation of a modern human.
- Search on heidelbergensis for more upsets in paleoanthropological thinking.
Evidence for the earliest structural use of wood at least 476,000 years ago (Barham et al., Nature, 20 Sept 2023). This is the peer-reviewed paper from Larry Barham’s team of 14 researchers. “The recovery of modified wood with an exceptional level of preservation at Kalambo Falls places woodworking firmly in the Mid-Pleistocene of Africa.” Given their admission that “Wood artefacts rarely survive from the Early Stone Age since they require exceptional conditions for preservation,” how could this wood be preserved for half a million years? Their excuses hardly justify half a million years for structures buried in a dynamic environment:
The Quaternary sequence is a 9-m-deep exposure above the Kalambo River (BLB1 is a geological section). Sediments are fluvial sands and gravels with occasional, discontinuous beds of fine sands, silts and clays with wood preserved in the lowermost 2 m (Methods). A permanently elevated water table has preserved wood and plant remains (Supplementary Information Section 1). The depositional sequence is typical of a high- to moderate-energy sandbed river that underwent lateral migration. The sands are dominated by a lower unit of horizontal bedding and an upper unit of planar/trough cross-bedding. Upper and lower sand units are separated by fine sands, silts and clays with plant material deposited in still water after the river migrated/avulsed elsewhere in the floodplain. Wood is deposited in this environment either through anthropogenic emplacement, or naturally transported in the flow, and snagged on sand bedforms (Supplementary Information Section 1).
As for the dating of this wood, the authors assume that dates of sand grains correlate with dates of wood buried in the sand. Is that reasonable? One author claims through “personal communication” that no radiocarbon was found. Consider, though, that this wood was recovered in “waterlogged deposits” along a river.
Dating is based on 16 sand samples collected for luminescence analyses from deposits bracketing key finds including those containing wood. Younger samples are dated using single-grain quartz optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and older samples by postinfrared infrared stimulated luminescence (pIR IRSL) from potassium-rich feldspars (Methods and Supplementary Information Section 2). The pIR IRSL approach used extensively in recent years does not suffer the problems that can generate large uncertainties associated with thermally transferred OSL (TT-OSL), as seen at Site C North (Fig. 1b)20. The new ages (Extended Data Table 1) are in stratigraphic order (1σ) (the only exception being KF10 and KF11), forming three clusters based on mean ages (and error of the mean) (Fig. 1c). The earliest cluster (476 ± 23 kyr) incorporates wood in deposits below river level (BLB3, BLB5). The intermediate cluster (390 ± 25 kyr) encompasses one wood tool in BLB2 found above river level. The upper cluster (324 ± 15 kyr) brackets two wood objects in BLB4, above river level. No wood was found higher up the sequence.
Something seems drastically amiss here. The dates of these layers cover some 150,000 Darwin Years (324,000 to 476,000 years). Are skeptical readers expected to believe that upright-walking, homebuilding people spent 15 times all recorded human history (granting a very generous 10,000 years for recorded human history) in this one area working with wood, but never coming up with anything more sophisticated than log cabins? The revised scenario emerging from this discovery casts extreme doubt on the likelihood that intelligent human beings who built wooden dwellings would have been content to carry on for half a million years without advancing civilization.
Availability of forest resources and a permanent elevated water table created a habitat conducive to sustained occupation. Life in a periodically wet floodplain would be enhanced by constructing a raised platform, walkway or foundation for dwellings.
Woodworking was also a precursor for the Mid-Pleistocene invention of hafting, which increased efficiency of basic actions such as chopping and scraping. The interlocking logs from BLB5 anticipate hafting’s core concept: the combination of two or more parts to make a construction, enhancing our understanding of the technical cognition of these toolmakers. Exceptional conditions of preservation give us this glimpse of a capacity to create a built environment by hominins hitherto perceived as mobile foragers with limited technological diversity.
Recorded history shows that in 1/48th the amount of assumed time, we human beings, with bodies and brains no more sophisticated than those of the “hominins” discussed above, went from stone huts to explore the entire solar system with computerized spacecraft.
I hope the absurdity of the evolutionary story of human evolution becomes evident with this report. Waterlogged wood lasting half a million years? Intelligent people content to live as hunter-gatherers for hundreds of thousands of years? This is ridiculous. We know what humans are like. They are restless, creative, mobile, intelligent, competitive, and purposeful. They solve problems, looking for better ways to get things done. Cultural traditions can slow them down, but not for half a million years! If nothing else, warfare between competing “hominids” would certainly have propelled technology quickly. Evolutionists concoct “arms races” between predators and prey, but seem to ignore it as a force between early humans (see Phys.org article about more recent tribal conflicts between hunter-gatherers).
The Bible teaches that humans were made in the image of God from the beginning. The image of God, Nancy Pearcey explains in a series of articles for Evolution News, explains human exceptionalism. The Bible teaches that human nature is fallen from its original innocence, and propelled by selfishness, war, and lust. The image of God remains latent in the human heart, and wherever it is regenerated by Jesus Christ, it has a humanizing influence on people. Evangelical Christianity has been beneficial to society, elevating women to equality with men, resisting slavery, promoting human rights, and celebrating beauty in the arts and sciences.
Biblical creationism dispenses with mythical Deep Time. This is essential to dismantling the evolutionary myths that require millions of Darwin Years for humans to arise from apes. For some of the evidences for a young earth, watch Dr Russell Humphreys’ Sept 2023 presentation for Logos Research Associates. For his first 27 years, Humphreys was an atheist and believer in Deep Time, but his worldview was transformed by the Bible and by scientific evidence. Most of the dating methods, he shows, are consistent with a young earth; only a few yield millions or billions of years. These, Dr Humphreys shows, are flawed with unverifiable assumptions. Without Deep Time, and the ability of evolutionists to make reckless drafts on the Bank of Time (2007 Feb 7, 2 March 2021, 24 March 2022), Darwinism collapses back into its mythical cave of shadows.