Figure The Arrival Of Modern Humans In Europe

Some of the African emigrants who reached India expanded to the northwest, through Iran and Turkey, eventually reaching Europe. Their slow-motion occupation of Europe took some 15,000 years, because of resistance from the indigenous Neanderthal population. Dots show sites occupied by Aurignacians, the name given by archaeologists to the culture of the first modern humans. Dates, in thousands of years before the present, are from radiocarbon measurements, and may be 3,000 years or so younger than calendar dates.

The modern humans probably moved as they always did, expanding into new territory as communities split, not exploring for the sake of adventure. Each new community would have skirmished with the local Neanderthals, who perhaps risked being killed by their fellows if they retreated into the territory owned by neighboring clans and had to hold on to their own territory or face extinction. Year by year, the moderns' territory expanded and the Neanderthals' shrank. From the extraordinary length of the process—a border war that took 15,000 years to move across Europe—it is evident that they did not yield easily. But by 30,000 years ago the Neanderthals had

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