Migration then and then

11 April 2020

At https://popular-archaeology.com/article/movement-of-early-humans-into-th… … the movement of humans into the Indian subcontinent looks at the routes they might have taken – by coastal hugging or coming from the NW or the NE. Interestingly, India would have had a substantial population during the Late Glacial Maximum as it was a long way from the poles.

From the Tata Institutue of Fundamental Research. Prehistoric journeys are the theme and the apparent evidence they have survived into regional tribal groupings in the modern world.

At https://popular-archaeology.com/article/a-new-discovery-in-roman-britain/ … which is basically the discovery of another pottery kiln in Verulamium (modern St Albans). It is in fact the fifth kiln found there and came about as part of an archaeological assessment prior to the laying of a new gas pipe across the southern part of Verulamium.

At https://popular-archaeology.com/article/how-migrations-and-other-populat… … this one goes back to the transition between the Middle and Late Palaeolithic periods, around 40,000 years ago (but dates vary as it is smack in the middle of a C14 plateau). Stone tool kits amongst early humans have generally been fairly stable – particularly amongst Homo erectus, and later, amongst Neanderthals and Denisovans. It seems archaeologists have found that after the transition there was an astonishing diversity of new tools, some of which went on to become stable equipment for thousands of years. We are told it was a period of cultural boosts – possibly as a result of migrations (a mxing of traditions). However, there is another side to the story that is unmentioned. We know that after catastrophic events brought geological periods to an end with varying evidence of extinction of some life forms, it was generally followed by an active period of evolution – until all the niches in nature were filled. Might it be that the transition from the Middle to Late Palaeolithic was also a catastrophic event – which saw the extinction of the Neanderthals. A bottleneck if you like which was followed by a burst of innovation as new tools were dreamed up and the best ones went on to become a permanent part of a new repertoire of tools.

At https://popular-archaeology.com/article/the-ancient-indus-civilization-s… … the ability of the Indus civilisation to adapt to ancient climate change is not confined just to the late third millennium BC. Water is a critical factor when choosing a site in which to live, particularly in prehistory. The urban Indus civilisation developed in a specific environmental complex, on the various channels of the Indus river. Water was managed and we know they had to contend with significant periods of drought (and tectonically induced changes in river channels). This was particularly relevant in the second half of the third millennium BC. However, going back to the early Holocene period we find people living in proximity to Kotla Dohar, a deep lake. The latter was a nice place for human settlement and required plentiful rainfall in order to keep it topped up. Rainfall was similar to what it was in Arabia and across North Africa. The deserts bloomed in the Sahara all the way across to what is now mainly Pakistan. The lake displays at least two episodes of lake levels dropping significantly – followed by a progressive decline and a drying out of the lake between 2200 and 2000BC (at roughly the same time as the First Intermediate Period in Egypt where drought and famine and low Nile levels were also recorded). The latter dry period  resulted in a de-urbanisation (a more spread out village society developed and the big cities fell into decline).

At https://popular-archaeology.com/article/study-offers-new-insight-into-th… … study on the impact of ancient migrations on the European landscape. This concerns dense settlement and the establishment of a truly farming landscape in the Bronze and Iron ages (including Britain and Ireland as well as the continent). It was basically the movement of steppe peoples that was the big game changer it would seem – more so than the arrival of Neolithic people somewhat earlier. The Bronze Age is marked by a significant decline in broad leaf woodland with an uptick in pasture and natural grassland. At the same time hunter gatherer populations appear to have fallen into terminal decline – after 2000BC.

At https://popular-archaeology.com/article/shared-genetic-heritage-from sicily-to-cyprus/ … a study into human bidiversity and DNA describes the Mediterranean peoples preserving a distinct fingerprint with an origin in the Levant and Anatolia. Movements out of the eastern Mediterranean, to Cyprus, Crete, the Cyclades, Sicily and southern Italy and beyond, have repeated themselves over thousands of years. They did not begin with the Phoenicians and Greeks – it went back to the early and mid Holocene periods too. There was a distinct movement of Neolithic early farming peoples right through the Mediterranean, and this occurred again in the Bronze Age (as well as the Iron Age movements back and forth).

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