[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 August 2007, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Egypt footprint 'could be oldest'
Archaeologists in Egypt say they have discovered what might be the oldest human footprint ever found.

The outline was found imprinted in mud, which has since turned to stone, at Siwa oasis in the western desert.

"This could go back about two million years," antiquities council chief Zahi Hawass was quoted by Reuters as saying.

However Khaled Saad, director of pre-history at the council, said it could be older still, and pre-date Ethiopia's 3m-year-old skeleton, Lucy.

Lucy, discovered in 1974 in Hadar, Ethiopia, is an extinct Australopithecus afarensis hominid estimated to be 3.2 million years old.

Creatures of her kind are assumed to have left the feet impressions recorded in volcanic ash at Laetoli in Tanzania. These prints have been dated to 3.6 million years ago.

The oldest footprints (and handprints) known to be associated with Homo (human) species are recorded in volcanic rocks at Roccamonfina in Italy. These are about 350,000 years old.

Commenting on the new discovery - which has yet to be reviewed by independent scientists - Mr Hawass said: "It could be the most important discovery in Egypt."

Until now the earliest evidence of human activity found in Egypt, most famous for the era of the pharaohs, dates from about 200,000 years ago.

'Find of century' for Egyptology
27 Jun 07 |  Middle East
Mystery of Great Pyramid 'solved'
31 Mar 07 |  Middle East
Ancient necropolis found in Egypt
21 Apr 05 |  Middle East
Nefertiti mummy 'found in Egypt'
10 Jun 03 |  Middle East

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific