Thursday, March 11, 2010

Here's Where We Began

I mentioned not long ago that, among other books, I was attempting to read Stephen Oppenheimer's, The Real Eve. I did say "attemptiung," and at that time I deduced that I wouldn't read all of it. It turns out that I was correct as the first few chapters supplied the broad picture of which I am more interested. Here, I attempt to very briefly summarize a small bit from those early chapters.

As most of you know, the DNA trail, as well as the archaeological one as far as I understand it, both reveal that humans had their origin in Africa. That seems to apply to both modern humans and earlier branches that became extinct. We modern humans are thought to have come into being about 160 000 years BP.

Then, about 80 000 years ago, it appears that their was a one-time exodus out of Africa of possibly a group of 1 000 people, and it would also seem that they crossed into the Arabian Peninsula at the southern tip of the Red Sea. At that time, glacial ice sheets held much water in frozen form, and the resulting low sea levels would have made the crossing relatively easy. From that crossing point our ancestors likely followed the Arabian coast to what is now the Persian Gulf: except that the gulf was likely dry land at that point. The crossing and that route is shown by the green line on the map, which you might wish to embiggen (just click) for a clearer view.

Since I am unaware of any Africans or people of African descent reading this blog, every single one of the ancestors of those reading these words made that crossing and subsequent migration about 80 000 years ago. Isn't that a remarkable thought? Beyond that, we are all, Africans and non-Africans alike, descended from a single ancestor about 160 000 years BP. Amazing.

The blue line shows that from the Gulf, travellers continued to follow the coastline into south Asia and beyond, the native Australians (Aborigines) settling in that continent perhaps 70 000 years ago. Well the map doesn't go very far in that direction, but the blue line gives you the idea of the direction.

Later in time, others migrated (see red line) back toward the Levant (more or less modern Israel and Lebanon as I understand it), and eventually moved in to Europe. That migration into Europe probably occurred about 50 000 years ago or perhaps even a bit later.

I find this stuff fascinating, and if it's new to you, I hope you like this Cole's/Cliff's notes version (depending on where you're from). There is another book that I'd like to get ahold of, The Seven Daughters of Eve. When I do, perhaps I will find more material to post. Meanwhile, I offer my apologies to Mr Oppenheimer and any other expert for offering such a bare bones precis of such a vast and detailed subject.


Donna said...

I once read that they've found artifacts, attesting to the fact, that human civilizations go back as far as a million yrs...or more...We humans have come and gone so many times on this earth, it boggles the mind. I'll try to find the link for you.
I still believe I'm desended from Wonder woman...;o)

thailandchani said...

Fascinating! I love this stuff, too! There are so many theories on how we evolved. One could spend a lifetime.... :)


Garnetrose said...

It is fascinating. I really do not know why some get upset when you tell them we descended from somewhere in Africa. It does not bother me at all. I do not think there is such a thing as a pure white race like so many like to believe. We are all descended from that area.

Like you, I think it is an interesting subject.

Anvilcloud said...

One theory is that we became white after we migrated to Europe because we needed to absorb more sun's rays.

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Bachelor said...

Well, one thing for sure, we know that it had to start somewhere...
:) The Bach

Pearl said...

Succinct is good. Sometimes I read a whole book and realize it's padded out from the proper Cole's Notes length.

Interesting to think of us all linked as cousins of old traveling companions, or travel tribe as the case may be.

Holly, the Old Western Gal said...

Mr. Anvilcloud, they just found a little hobbity thang in Indonesia and are rethinking the whole Africa-as-ground-zero scenario.

I hope I have a lot of hobbit blood!

Anvilcloud said...

Whatever they found in Indonesia probably has nothing to do with modern humans (= us) originating in Africa. The DNA evidence seems to be overwhelming.

Lorna said...

I see you have learned the joys of using the word "embiggen". That's what I have to do to my brain to take in all the stuff about our origins. I was influenced by you though, and got a library book today called "Infinity in the Palm of her Hand"---A novel of Adam and Eve.

I was hoping for an autobiography but this will have to do.

Cait O'Connor said...

I stumbled upon your blog while googling European Travellers as I am in my maternal line a J (or Jasmine which is what she is called in Seven Daughters book), the same DNA group as you.

I learned a new word too!

Anvilcloud said...

Welcome, sister Cait.

Queenmothermamaw said...

I have heard this to be true.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

You don't seem to have any admirers among the Biblical creationist crowd. Too bad, no contraversay on your site.