First Peoples: Europe came and went. I watched it. In case you didn’t see it there was a big reveal: archaeologists in France have uncovered a site where modern humans were producing arrowheads 50,000 years ago. This is strange for two reasons. First, what were modern humans doing with bows and arrows 50,000 thousand years ago? They emerged in the Paleolithic transition, spreading from the Old World to the New. That is, they spread over the last 10,000 years. I don’t recall them addressing this issue. But let’s set that to the side: if these finds are associated with modern humans then that pushes their arrival to Western Europe 10,000 years further back. Despite all the arguments about dating the presence of Neanderthals in Europe, no one presumes that they went extinct 50,000 years ago. That implies that groups of moderns interposed themselves into Neanderthal dominated Europe in some fashion, until finally the Aurignacian culture arrived and replaced Neanderthals in toto.
At the site in question specifically the researchers have uncovered evidence that moderns and Neanderthals used the same location only a few months apart. But if this find holds we need to remember modern humans weren’t modern yet, they were just one of the many hominin lineages which have flourished over the past 2 million years. With hindsight we can see that these initial forays were to prefigure what was to come, but at the time the two groups were not quite that different in technology and guaranteed destiny. Modern humans did not have any great advantage, so they may have come and gone depending on the circumstances.
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