A Bone Here, a Bead There: On the Trail of Human Origins
There were remarkable things happening in Europe at least 40,000 years ago, with the painted caves, with flutes, with the statuettes and so on. But the seeds of that revolution were sown in Africa more than 100,000 years ago. I would argue that when modern humans came out of Africa, say 60,000 years ago, fundamentally they were behaviorally modern. They took that into Europe. They took that into Asia and into Australia. So there was no single revolutionary event in Europe; this was something that was in modern humans when they came out of Africa, and the ones who stayed behind as well.The following quote by mousterian is worth highlighting:
What we are dancing around here is an issue more fundamental than simply coastal vs. interior, early vs. late. If it was an expansion (or wave of expansions) during MIS 5 through the interior, these are hunter-gatherers tracking a known ecosystem. If a late expansion during MIS 4 or early MIS 3 along the coast, these represents some innovative cultural adaptation that has enabled them to exploit a new ecosystem and rapidly disperse through it (i.e. the rim of the Indian Ocean). In other words, were we lucky hunter-gatherers in the right place at the right time during the Last Interglacial, or crafty beachcombers struggling for survival across the post-apocalyptic post-Toba landscape? Pushed out of Africa, or pulled into Arabia? In my mind, this is the real disparity between the two models.My chips are on the "lucky hunter-gatherers" MIS 5 scenario and I'm sticking to it until I see any evidence for behaviorally modern people in East Africa or Arabia or the Levant at the time of the postulated 60ky-old migration. But, it's good to see both positions vigorously argued.
Interestingly, all of the Palaeolithic archaeologists working in Arabia unanimously agree on the "lucky hunter-gatherers" MIS 5 scenario. Granted, it’s not as sexy as believing we are somehow fundamentally different, new, and improved. That’s the problem with fact versus fiction.