Modern humans may have reached India and other parts of South Asia thousands of years earlier than was previously thought, scientists have indicated, using fresh archaeological evidence that may force a revision of early human history.
A team of scientists from the US, Britain, Ukraine, Germany and the UAE have discovered artifacts that suggest that modern humans left Africa and reached eastern Arabia about 125,000 years ago.The research will be published in the Friday edition of the journal Science.
The findings could dramatically alter the history of our species, which till now was believed to have expanded from Africa - home to the first modern humans - about 60,000 years ago.
"These 'anatomically modern' humans - like you and me - had evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago and subsequently populated the rest of the world," said lead author Simon Armitage from the University of London.
"Our findings should stimulate a re-evaluation of the means by which we modern humans became a global species."
The research corroborates work three years ago by Michael Petraglia of the University of Cambridge, who found artifacts in Andhra Pradesh suggesting that humans lived in India before the Mount Toba eruption 75,000 years back.
Most evidence till now has indicated a massive exodus along the Mediterranean Sea or along the Arabian coast about 60,000 years ago.
But the team of researchers led by Hans-Peter Uerpmann from Eberhard Karls University in Germany found tools dating back over 100,000 years at Jebel Faya in the UAE.
The findings suggest that modern humans could have reached Arabia - and then India - directly from Africa rather than via the Nile valley or the Near East, as researchers have earlier suggested.