The percentage of land on the planet that has never been modified by humans is 5%. At the time known as the Anthropocene, the era of humanity, when our presence is felt in the heart of the Amazonian forests or on the highest mountain peaks, the changes made to natural environments are beyond doubt. However, this does not date from yesterday but from almost 100,000 years ago, as archaeologists who have excavated the surroundings of Lake Malawi, a vast body of water in south-eastern Africa, have just demonstrated.
“The oldest anthropogenic landscape on Earth”
One might think that the human footprint on the planet was affirmed at the same time as our first massive greenhouse gas emissions, those which are still accumulating today. That the Anthropocene was born with the industrial revolution and that before that, just like the temperatures that serve as a benchmark for measuring global warming, most landscapes were still very natural. It is a mistake.
The gigantic stones of Stonehenge would have been moved for miles in antiquity
Tens of millennia before the invention of agriculture, humans were already modifying their environment. This astonishing finding has just been made by a team of researchers who studied 630,000 years of sediment at a site in Karonga district (Malawi), north of Lake Malawi, in the southern part of the Great Rift Valley.
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