New thinking on the movement of Homo sapiens has also emerged from the UK. A fragment of upper jawbone with three teeth from Kent’s Cavern in Devon was initially dated to c.37,000 BC, but re-examination suggested conservators’ glue had contaminated these results.

Now, after radiocarbon dating animal bone excavated from above and below the maxilla, Tom Higham of Oxford University and Chris Stringer from the Natural History Museum have calculated that the fossil is actually 41,000-44,000 years old, making it the earliest-known remains of modern humans in north-west Europe. This latest research suggests humans and Neanderthals co-existed in the region, something previously debated by experts, and questions our understanding of the first waves of human migration across Europe during periods of climate fluctuation when the ice sheets receded.


This article is an extract from the full article published in World Archaeology Issue 50. Click here to subscribe