The Out of Africa theory is the dominant model of the geographic origin and early migration of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens)(a). It arose from discoveries in East Africa less than a century ago. Previously, a more popular idea prevailed which claimed that modern humans arose from different populations of earlier hominids in various regions of the world. This regional development still has some advocates(h)(c).
A 2007 report deviated somewhat from the OoA concept, suggested that the first Europeans had arrived from Asia, rather from directly from Africa!(f)
While details of the OoA theory are continually being modified in the light of new discoveries, genetic studies have only strengthened support for the theory. The most recent genetic studies suggest that “a vast inland oasis in present-day northern Botswana was once home to the founder population of all modern humans.” (b)
New studies suggest that the early development of homo sapiens may have been more complex than previously thought(e). Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum, London, is quoted by The Guardian as saying that “the immediate predecessors of modern humans probably arose in Africa about 500,000 years ago and evolved into separate populations”.
It is still uncertain whether humans left Africa in two or more waves and when did they do so. Stephen Oppenheimer, who has written extensively on the subject, maintains that a single group of migrants were involved, around 80,000 years ago. He offers several papers on the Bradshaw Foundation website(d).
In the September 2021 issue of Nature, evidence was presented that hominins had migrated out of Africa to what was a much greener Arabia, in a series of movements starting at approximately 400,000 years ago and later around 300,000, 200,000, 100,000 and 55,000 years ago, coinciding with successive periods of more benign climate on the peninsula(i).>Later in the year, another report endorsed the importance of Arabia, describing it as the “cornerstone in early human migrations out of Africa.” This was the conclusion arrived at following the largest-ever study of Arab genomes(j).<
As I see it, dating the spread of humans remains unclear to a layman such as myself. Of particular interest is determining more accurately when man first crossed the Bering Strait from Asia into America.
Not directly related to this subject but nevertheless interesting is a recent research report published in the Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology(g) (2021 DOI: 10.1558/jma.18784), which deals with Mediterranean migration trends over 8,000 years. It found that, within the region from about 7,500 BC to AD 500, migration rates ranged from about 6% to 9% of the population within the dataset. These rates seem to have decreased over time and “that despite evidence of cultural connections, there’s little evidence of massive migration across the region.”
Stephen Oppenheimer (1947- ) qualified in Medicine from Oxford University in 1971. He moved to the orient where he specialised in tropical paediatrics. He was Professor of Paediatrics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1990 to 1994. Much of his research focused on malaria and the unique genetic mutations that protect against it. Since these mutations act as markers Oppenheimer found that they held strong evidence for the migrations caused by the extensive flooding following the last Ice Age. This led him to investigate the cultural origins of the peoples of South East Asia.
Oppenheimer wrote a book, which identified the South China Sea as the original location of the Garden of Eden. Although he makes little reference to Atlantis, the book is of great interest to those that favour an oriental rather than a western location as the inspiration for Plato’s legendary land.
R. Cedric Leonard has drawn attention to an article by Oppenheimer in a 2006 edition of Prospect magazine(d) with a follow up contribution in the June 2007 edition(e). In them, he proposes that the early immigrants into the British Isles were more likely to have been Basques rather than Celts. Leonard speculates(f) that the Bretons (Britons) were Basques, who in turn were Atlantean refugees!
A critical review of Oppenheimer’s volume by Koenraad Elst(c), the Belgian orientalist, as well as the more recent supportive views of Dale Drinnon can be found on the Internet(a).
Oppenheimer has also written a further book that looks at the origins of modern mankind in Africa and its spread throughout the rest of the world.
In February 2012 it was reported(b) that the president of Indonesia was encouraging a search for an ancient civilisation in Indonesian waters. This apparently followed meetings with local researchers and Stephen Oppenheimer. President Yudhoyono has also given his support to the extensive research being carried out at Gunung Padang(g).
Oppenheimer in conjunction with the Bradshaw Foundation(h) has produced a valuable interactive genetic map showing how the world was peopled(i).
In 2014, Oppenheimer endorsed(j) the conclusions of Stanford and Bradley who propose that the Clovis people were related to the Solutrean people of western Europe who had crossed the Atlantic during the last Ice Age.
See also Sundaland.
(a) See Archive 3581
(b) See Archive 2976