The Italian Almanac

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first Europeans

Italian News - November 11

The first Europeans lived in southern Italy and not Spain, according to new Italian findings. A collection of fossilised flint tools and other sharp instruments found in the south-eastern region of Puglia has recently been dated to some 1.7 million years ago - predating the oldest Spanish finds by almost a million years.

The discovery was announced at a major prehistoric science conference in Lisbon. The evidence means paleontologists will have to redraw the maps charting the path of ancient man out of Africa, say a team from four Italian universities, Rome, Turin, Florence and Ferrara.

"This discovery reopens the debate on the origin of the population of the whole of Europe," said Carmelo Petronio of Rome's La Sapienza University. "It supports the theory that the first Europeans migrated westwards across the Near East and not from north-western Africa".

The tools found in Puglia were dated by comparing them to the remains of 43 mammals unearthed near them, including sabre-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths.