Archaeology Magazine

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When Did Modern Humans Arrive in South Asia?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND—Martin Richards of the University of Huddersfield argues that modern humans did not reach southern Asia before the super-eruption of the Mount Toba volcano in Sumatra, some 74,000 years ago. Stone tools, found in India below a layer of ash from the Toba volcano, had suggested that people had possibly left Africa and arrived in India as early as 120,000 years ago. Based upon evidence from modern mitochondrial DNA collected in India and other research, Richards says that modern humans arrived in India no earlier than 60,000 years ago. “There were people in India before the Toba eruption, because there are stone tools there, but they could have been Neanderthals—or some other pre-modern population,” Richard explains.