29 July 2011

We are immigrants, settlers, incomers, all of us. We are not the originals, the indigenous. Whatever ethnic or national labels we give ourselves, others were here before us and ours. I explored this last year in the post Indigenous and have previously mentioned the Ancient Human Ocupation of Britain (AHOB) project.

Now have a look at this report in Science. The article costs but the brief abstract is free to read. There are also longer free online account here and here.

The report is another look at what happened to the Neanderthals. We homo sapiens sapiens migrated into Europe about 40 000 years ago. Looking at Perigord in southwest France, the report suggests that our species overwhelmed by numbers, along with cultural and technological advantages, the Neanderthals already here.

Indigeneity, a political construct, did not begin in Britain with a relatively recent Celtic-speaking people; that does not look far enough back. There were humans in Britain about 800 000 years ago at Happisburg in Norfolk. Inconstant settlement in our country has a long, long history with humans coming and going as circumstances changed. The last human occupation began about 12 000 years ago.

We are newcomers, all of us, and largely here by specific conquest. The predecessors as an identifiable group are gone, extinct or absorbed into us or massacred by our ancestors.

Hmm. I’m not sure the title of this post delivered what some might have expected.

‘Tenfold population increase in western Europe at the neandertal-to-modern human transition’ by Paul MELLARS and Jennifer C FRENCH in Science 29 July 2011

Where do the Cornish come from? 22 June 2011

There are two spellings in English of Neanderthal/Neandertal

EDIT: the reference to sciencedaily.com added 30 July 2011 and to For what they were, we are added 10 August 2011.