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Rewriting History: Oldest Road Ever Discovered

A ‘stacked stone’ road has been found underwater in Croatia, dating to a period 5,000 years before the Roman Empire.

Diver excavating Korcula road, Croatia
Korcula road | University of Zadar | Facebook

When researchers started investigating a sunken settlement off the coast of Korčula Island near mainland Croatia, little did they know that they would soon unearth a surprise ancient stone road buried under a layer of sea mud.

Researchers from the University of Zadar in Croatia discovered the road - roughly 13 feet wide and made of stone plates - after scraping mud off the underwater find, reports Popular Mechanics.

The team says the road once connected Korčula Island to an artificially made island settlement called Soline, which is now nearly 16 feet below the water’s level. Researchers, using radiocarbon dating, believe this was all an active site roughly 7,000 years ago.

Putting this find into its proper context almost necessitates a brief re-writing of the history of civilization. Thus far, the confirmed oldest ‘constructed’ road dates back to 4,000 BCE to probably the world’s second-oldest city of Ur, part of ancient Sumeria.

Brick roads begin appearing in India about 3,000 BCE, which is also around the time they begin appearing in Greece.

But the Korčula road, featuring sophisticated stone-stacking and some sort of material to encase the stones in their positions, was made around 1,000 years before Ur.

Korčula has two other claims to fame: It's said to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, and it’s the oldest part of the world where documents can prove that slavery was abolished (1214 CE).

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