The author of the present paper writes:
The earliest evidence of anatomically modern humans in Europe is currently dated to ≈48,000 cal BP and the beginning of the GI 12 warm interval. It is based on artifact assemblages (Bohunician) that are similar to an earlier industry in the Near East (Emiran) probably produced by modern humans. Bohunician sites are present in South-Central Europe (27, 29, 32) and possibly Eastern Europe as well, during this interval.There are currently no remains from the Bohunician, so the association with modern humans is still tentative:
A possible second movement of modern humans into Europe may be represented by another group of artifact assemblages that date to as early as 45,000–44,000 cal BP and GS 11/GI 11. They vary significantly in composition and are sometimes referred to as Proto-Aurignacian (27, 43, 50, 64). Many are similar to a contemporaneous industry in the Near East (Ahmarian) manufactured by modern humans (1, 33). Proto-Aurignacian assemblages are found in Southwest and South-Central Europe and seem to be present in Eastern Europe at this time (50). Although the oldest known modern human skeletal remains in Europe date to this interval, they are not associated with artifacts (44).
Both the Bohunician and Proto-Aurignacian sites probably represent modern human population movements from the Near East into Europe via the Balkans.
After the onset of cold HE4 at ≈40,000 cal BP, a new industry (Aurignacian) possibly developed in South-Central Europe spread rapidly throughout the continent. Aurignacian assemblages are associated with the remains of modern humans in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe (1, 7, 10, 46, 52, 62).
Many paleoanthropologists will want to see this conclusion supported by discovery of modern human skeletal remains in these sites or at least in a context that may be dated to the same period.Even the much later Aurignacian itself was considered by some to be an ambiguous case, although recent evidence from teeth seems to confirm that it was made by modern humans.
Thus, I don't anticipate that the acceptance of the Bohunician as modern human in origin will be without a fight by those who might see Neandertal involvement. Such things are hotly contested even when there are skulls associated with assemblages, so you can imagine how it will be when modern human involvement is only hinted by archaeological parallels, in this case with the Emiran, which also lacks associated human remains.
If Neandertals were behind the Emiran-Bohunician, this would suggest a previously unsuspected degree of vitality for late Neandertals, as it would see them undertake a colonization, or at least long-term cultural contacts across a substantial distance.
On the other hand, if modern humans are behind it, then this would suggest a much longer co-existence between moderns and Neandertals in the European continent, even though, possibly, not in the same part thereof. It would also dispel ideas about a fairly late colonization of Europe compared to Australasia that have been popularized by documentaries in recent years.
The spread of modern humans in Europe
John F. Hoffecker
The earliest credible evidence of Homo sapiens in Europe is an archaeological proxy in the form of several artifact assemblages (Bohunician) found in South-Central and possibly Eastern Europe, dating to ≤48,000 calibrated radiocarbon years before present (cal BP). They are similar to assemblages probably made by modern humans in the Levant (Emiran) at an earlier date and apparently represent a population movement into the Balkans during a warm climate interval [Greenland Interstadial 12 (GI 12)]. A second population movement may be represented by a diverse set of artifact assemblages (sometimes termed Proto-Aurignacian) found in the Balkans, parts of Southwest Europe, and probably in Eastern Europe, and dating to several brief interstadials (GI 11–GI 9) that preceded the beginning of cold Heinrich Event 4 (HE4) (≈40,000 cal BP). They are similar to contemporaneous assemblages made by modern humans in the Levant (Ahmarian). The earliest known human skeletal remains in Europe that may be unequivocally assigned to H. sapiens (Peçstera cu Oase, Romania) date to this time period (≈42,000 cal BP) but are not associated with artifacts. After the Campanian Ignimbrite volcanic eruption (40,000 cal BP) and the beginning of HE4, artifact assemblages assigned to the classic Aurignacian, an industry associated with modern human skeletal remains that seems to have developed in Europe, spread throughout the continent.