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Dark Skins to Pink

They made music with flutes carved from bones, to be discovered by archeologists in what today is Germany, the flutes dating back 40,000 years.

PBS's "The Great Human Odessey" (NOVA) describes Neanderthals (classified as human) in Europe at least 160,000 years ago. The earliest bones of homo-sapiens discovered in Europe date to about 45,000 years ago. Judging from what was found in their graves, these were hunter-gatherers with dark skins. Genetics tell us their descendants were from Africa. According to Scientific American (20 Aug 2014) it was around 40,000 years ago that Neanderthals "disappeared" from Europe. Speculation describes the Neanderthals as having failed to compete with modern humans for space and resources, which may have included the violent warfare that we surmise was common among hunter-gatherers. According to the historian Yuval Harari (Sapiens), the greater success of home-sapiens can perhaps be attributed to their being more ideologically cohesive, capable of holding together in larger societies, and their being better organized at warfare. And others have suggested the possibility that homo-sapiens had contaminated the Neanderthals with pathogens or parasites against which the Neanderthals had a limited immunity.

The religious impulse common to hunter-gathers went with those who migrated to Europe. A small figurine discovered in what today in Germany dates between 40,000 and 35,000 years ago and is believed to have had religious significance. What are called Venus figurines have been found across much of Europe, and they date to 21,000 years ago.

Around 27,000 years ago, climate change produced ice that covered two-thirds of Europe. Some of the homo-sapien societies died out and some survived. The freeze reached its peak 25,000 years ago and began to fade.

Around 17,300 years ago, in what today is southwestern France, at Lascaux, were cave paintings that date to 17,300 ago. These have been described as Upper Paleolithic art connected to spiritual ritual. This was another impulse common to homo-sapiens: an artistic impulse involving symbolism (described in NOVA's "The Great Human Odessey"). The cave at Lascaux is considered to have been a religious sanctuary used for initiation ceremonies, a theory supported by footprint studies. Virtually all of the footprints in the cave were left by adolescents: a typical category of initiates.

New Migrations

Around 12,000 years ago, the ice sheets that had covered much of Asia, North America and Europe were retreating northward. It was about 9,000 years ago that people with a lighter shade of skin began invading Europe from Anatolia — today Turkey. They brought farming with them to the south and east of Europe. Anthropologists now see agriculture coming to Europe as a result of migration rather than as the invention of local hunter-gatherers.

The migrants, it seems, were taller than Europe's indigenous hunter-gatherers. There are anthropologists who deny that lighter skins in Europe were connected to capturing more vitamin D from sunlight. The hunter-gatherers, it is believed, managed well enough acquiring vitamin D in the meat they caught.

Indo-European migrations

Indo-European migrations from around 4000 to 1000 BCE (according to the Kurgan hypothesis).

Another migration of light-skinned people arrived in Europe around 4,500 years ago from what today is Ukraine and the southern Don and Volga River regions of Russia. These were taller homo-sapiens than the migrants from Anatolia. Their language was Proto-Indo-European and their migrations are today identified as Indo-European (like the Aryans who invaded India.) They were a mix of people. Some were predominantly nomadic, with some agriculture practiced near rivers. Some were horse-riding herders and, like the Aryans who invaded India, with wheeled carts.


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