The GuardianThe Guardian

Revealed: Modern humans needed three tries – and 12,000 years – to colonise Europe

By Robin McKie

07 May 2023 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

New research into the takeover of Europe by modern humans is controversial as it questions the origins of one of the key prehistoric stone tool industries. The Guardian has the story.

It took three separate waves of modern humans to colonise Europe between 54,000 and 42,000 years ago. That is the key conclusion of scientists who have been studying caves in the Rhone valley where they have discovered evidence that Homo sapiens had to make a trio of determined attempts to head westwards and northwards from western Asia before they could establish themselves in the continent.

“The first two of these waves failed but the third succeeded around 42,000 years ago,” said Ludovic Slimak of the University of Toulouse, who is leading the excavations in France. “After that, modern humans took over in Europe. The Neanderthals, who had evolved on the continent, died out.”

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