According to the most recent archaeological discoveries, the first modern Europeans, of the homo sapiens kind, lived in the ancient forests of the Carpathian mountains some 35,000 years ago, on what is now the territory of Romania. The bone fragments indicating this were found in the Pestera cu Oase (the cave with bones) dig site, in the southwestern part of the mountain range, and include a jaw bone piece, as well as other tiny pieces of bones throughout the body.
Up to this point, experts have failed to establish whether the remains belong to a male or a female, but forensic artist Richard Neave has managed to come up with this clay representation of how our ancestors might have looked like. He based most of his design on his vast expertise of how bones and soft tissue were built around a given skeleton, and by carefully measuring and analyzing the bone fragments that were recovered in Romania. The portrait also illustrates the close connection that the primeval Europeans had to their African ancestors.
“It's really quite bizarre. I'm a scientist and objective, but I look at that face and think 'Gosh, I'm actually looking at the face of somebody from 40,000 years ago,' and there's something weirdly moving about that,” Bristol University Anthropologist Dr. Alice Roberts, who is currently in custody of the model, told the Radio Times. The expert will present the face in the upcoming BBC 2 series “The Incredible Human Journey,” for which she will do the introduction part.
“Richard creates skulls of much more recent humans and he's used to looking at differences between populations. He said the skull doesn't actually look European, or Asian, or African. It looks like a mixture of all of them. And you think, well, that's probably what you'd expect of someone who was among the earliest populations to come to Europe,” the anthropologist added.
Using carbon dating, experts identified the bones as being between 34,000 and 36,000 years old, and established that, at the time, homo sapiens lived together with the Neanderthal men, who had already occupied the territory a few thousand years earlier. Still, the bones that were found in the Romanian cave are those of the earliest known anatomically modern human, who most likely came to the area from the northern parts of Africa, via the Middle East, The Independent reports.