The coastlines of the world are continually changing. Powerful waves sweep the sands of ocean floors onto dry land. They erode shoreline rocks into sand taken into the ocean depths. The beaches where dinosaurs and Neanderthal men walked are now underwater or pushed far inland. Beaches are rich in prehistoric archaeology and the history of ancient and modern people living by the sea.
Researchers found that a beach in Jharkhand, India formed 3,2 billion years ago. Fossil beaches still accessible today can be located on the UK’s Jurassic coastline, Northern Scotland, and Wales. Fossilized footprints of Prehistoric man can be seen on beaches in France, Spain, and England.
Time-traveling to the oldest beaches in the world can quickly fill up a bucket list. Apart from the genuinely ancient coastlines, there are also the first public beaches like Revere Beach, USA, where Victorian swimwear was shown off in the 1890s. Take a trip through historical and archaeological time by visiting the world’s 7 oldest beaches right here.
1. India’s Singhbhum District Was The World’s First Beach
Geologists and Archaeologists have long been puzzled by how and where the first continents and their accompanying beaches formed. A recent study by scientists from Australia, India, and South Africa have found evidence that the world’s first beach came into existence 3,2 billion years ago. This archaeo-historic site is in the Western Singhbhum district, Jharkhand, Eastern India.
To visit the world’s oldest beach, you must travel to mountains and forests in India’s interior. Western Singhbhum today is located 800 feet above sea level. Beach sand mainly consists of quartz minerals created by ocean waves eroding granite rocks. Scientists looked for Zircon (Uranium) grains in the rocks of Singhbhum for evidence that these rocks were created in ancient beaches and shallow oceans.
The world’s oldest rocks developed out of the first beaches on our planet. Sedimentary rocks of the same age as those in Singhbhum can be found in South Africa and Australia.
There are many historic Indian beaches where the sea and sand are present in a less conceptual way.
Mamallapuram beach in the bay of Bengal (Tamil Nadu) is a spectacular place where scenic nature and historical architecture meet. Here you can see an ancient temple from the 8th century on the seashore.
2. England’s Jurassic Coast Takes You Back To The Mesozoic Era
The Jurassic Coast boasts an ancient shoreline that stretches from Exmouth (East Devon) to Studland (West Dorset). Traveling to these beaches will take you back to the Mesozoic Era of 252- 66 million years ago. This shoreline was declared a World Heritage Site in 2001. Red sandstone that was part of the Pangean Supercontinent rose up out of the sandy beaches at Sidmouth Beach.
The Jurassic Coast is named after the rich fossil finds at Charmouth Beach. This is the best place to go on a fossil search, and you are even allowed to keep your finds. Eight Scelidosaurus skeletons were found here. This armored plant-eating dinosaur from 190 million years ago can be seen in the Charmouth museum.
3. Spain’s Matalascañas Beach Shows Neanderthal Footprints
Doñana National Park on the Iberian coast is the place to go if you wanted to step into the footprints of the Neanderthals from 100 000 years ago. More than eighty fossils of Prehistoric adult and child footprints were discovered on Southern Spain’s Matalascañas Beach.
The word ‘matalascañas’ refers to the fossilized animal tracks discovered on this beach before the human footprints were found. Our early hominid predecessors are known to have enjoyed harvesting food from the sea. Neanderthal skulls often show evidence of swimmer’s ear.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Grotta dei Moscerini, now in the Italian interior, was a cave overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, where Neanderthal man gathered clam shells to use as tools.
4. Australia’s Murujuga Beach Shows Ancient Rock Paintings
Murujuga National Park on the Pilbara Coast of Western Australia showcases the world’s most extensive collection of 47 000-year-old rock art. The Aboriginal word ‘murujuga’ means hip-bone sticking out. This word describes how the peninsula lies on the Pilbara coast. More than a million prehistoric petroglyphs (rock carvings) can be seen at this National Heritage site.
Evidence of early humans using this beach can be seen in the ancient fish traps, middens, rock shelters, and stone tools that were found here. The rocks of Murujuga formed around 2,7 billion years ago.
The rock pools in this area contain Tufa deposits and many species of fish and invertebrates. This is a historic location that has archaeological as well as ecological significance.
5. Greece’s Kommos Beach Is An Archaeological Site
Kommos Beach is one of the unspoiled, golden sandy beaches on the island of Crete. The Port of Phaistos was located here around 1650 to 1250 BC. This place is so drenched in ancient history and mythology that part of the beach is even an archaeological digging site. Classical Minoan buildings, temples, and altars are being excavated here.
Just off the Kommos shore, a giant, black rock is visible. This rock, named Volakas, is said to be the one that the one-eyed giant Polyphemus threw at Ulysses. Archaic olive presses and many clay, stone, and metal object from this site can be seen in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
The Bay of Messara and Kommos beach are magnificently beautiful and the home of the Caretta-Caretta tortoises. The sea here is crystal clear and translucent blue.
6. USA’s Santa Rosa Beach, Home Of The Arlington Man Fossil
Santa Rosa Island is situated in the Channel Island complex of California. In 1959 the remains of the Arlington-Springs Man were found here. This 13000-year-old discovery represents the oldest human remains in America. The Channel Island National Park consists of the islands of Santa Rosa, Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara.
The Coast of Santa Rosa is synonymous with the history of the Chumash American Indian People.
The earliest evidence of human seafaring in the USA dates from Santa Rosa. Paleo-Indian ancestors of the Chumash tribe lived here 12 000 years ago. The Chumash called their coastal home Wima, referring to the Redwood driftwood they built their canoes from.
The Chumash were displaced from their 8000-year-old home-coast by Spanish invaders. George Vancouver changed the island’s name to Santa Rosa in the 1790s.
7. South Africa’s Blombos Beach Cave Shows Ancient Art & Artefacts
Blombos Beach’s famous cave can be found on the coastline of the Southern Cape and is part of the Blombos Private Nature Reserve. Middle stone age and Late Stone Age artifacts from 100 000 to 2000 years ago were found here. Bone tools and shell beads are some of the spectacular archaeological finds from this cave overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Blombos cave preserved its contents so well because it closed up 70 000 years ago as dune and water levels shifted through time. One of the most significant discoveries is a 73000-year-old doodle on a shard of rock that looks like hashtags drawn in ochre. Evidence suggests that this could be the oldest human drawing ever found.
Blombos Coast is an unspoiled, deserted gem of a place. It is no wonder that ancient people would want to call that cave on the glimmering white Blombos Beach home.
Coastlines and Beaches change continually, making it nearly impossible to pinpoint the oldest ones.
The sand on the oldest beaches gets shifted and moved elsewhere daily. If you want to experience the archaic while hearing the waves crashing, modern-day beaches where fossils can be found are a good starting point.