Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Modern Humans Were In India Without Interruption Pre- And Post-Toba

I've been aware of this for quite a few years, but a Nature Communications article published on February 25, 2020 (per CNN) is making a big splash over the fact that modern human tools are present in India both before and after the Toba eruption (ca. 74,000 years ago), with an indication that there is continuity between the before culture and the after one.

I was mentioning this as old news in an August 15, 2012 post at this blog. I also mention it in a September 24, 2010 post at Wash Park Prophet citing a BBC report regarding a find by Dr Michael Petraglia who is the last listed author of the February 25, 2020 paper.

Presumably the new study strengthens the decade old finds, the abstract suggests, by linking it to other contemporaneous finds. 

It is an important measure of Out of Africa modern human expansion that refutes the naive inference from modern human genetics alone that Out of Africa for modern humans dates to only around 50,000 years ago. The reason for the disconnect between the genetic based date and the archaeology based one is unclear, but the most obvious possibility is widespread population replacement of earlier modern human populations by later Out of Africa, or Out of Arabia or India waves of migration.

Multiple other independent lines of evidence (from the Levant, Arabia, Burma, Indonesia, Australia, Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA, and possibly China) also point to an earlier Out of Africa date. The article and its abstract are as follows:
India is located at a critical geographic crossroads for understanding the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa and into Asia and Oceania. Here we report evidence for long-term human occupation, spanning the last ~80 thousand years, at the site of Dhaba in the Middle Son River Valley of Central India. An unchanging stone tool industry is found at Dhaba spanning the Toba eruption of ~74 ka (i.e., the Youngest Toba Tuff, YTT) bracketed between ages of 79.6 ± 3.2 and 65.2 ± 3.1 ka, with the introduction of microlithic technology ~48 ka. The lithic industry from Dhaba strongly resembles stone tool assemblages from the African Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Arabia, and the earliest artefacts from Australia, suggesting that it is likely the product of Homo sapiens as they dispersed eastward out of Africa.
Chris Clarkson, Michael Petraglia, et al., "Human occupation of northern India spans the Toba super-eruption ~74,000 years ago" 11 Nature Communications Article number: 961 (February 25, 2020).

1 comment:

DDeden said...

I hadn't noticed Petraglia is an author of this new paper. I criticized the work on the earlier paper, the sampling was done in a poor site IMO, contaminated or mixed. I think the same may apply to this one. I may be wrong, but I remain wary of the interpretation that the supervolcano was a mere hiccup with no significant impact on native technology.