A recent multidisciplinary study has shed new light on a crucial period in the history of human migration, revealing that the Persian Plateau played a fundamental role as a hub for early Homo sapiens who expanded beyond their African homeland. This revelation, published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, challenges previous ideas about the spread of our species into Eurasia and offers a more comprehensive understanding of the intricate movements of human populations during the early stages of their global dispersal.

The study, which combines genetic, paleoecological, and archaeological evidence, focuses on the period between approximately 70,000 and 45,000 years ago, a time span during which human populations did not uniformly expand across the Eurasian continent, leaving a gap in our understanding of their whereabouts during this crucial interval.

Using a novel approach that integrates genetic data with paleoecological models, the team of researchers, led by Professor Luca Pagani and Professor Michael Petraglia, revealed that the Persian Plateau, located in southwest Asia, emerged as a favorable habitat capable of sustaining a significantly larger human population compared to other areas of western Asia.

This region, encompassing parts of Iran, Turkey, and the Middle East, emerged as a fundamental hub for the early waves of Homo sapiens expansion out of Africa. The genetic signature identified in the populations of the Persian Plateau underscores their long-standing differentiation in the area, consistent with their role as the epicenter of our species’ initial migrations.

Our multidisciplinary study provides a more coherent view of the ancient past and allows for a better understanding of the critical period between the expansion from Africa and the differentiation of Eurasian populations, explained Professor Petraglia, director of the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution at Griffith University.

Meanwhile, Professor Pagani of the University of Padua in Italy highlighted that the discovery clarifies a 20,000-year portion of Homo sapiens history outside of Africa, a timeframe during which we interacted with Neanderthal populations, and sheds light on the relationships among various Eurasian populations, providing crucial clues to understanding the demographic history of our species across Europe, East Asia, and Oceania.

These findings underscore the importance of the Persian Plateau as a key location for early human settlements and subsequent migrations, opening new avenues for archaeological exploration in this region. They also emphasize the need for further study of this geographic area, which seems to have played a fundamental role in shaping human history.

The revelation of the Persian plateau as a center of early human migrations opens new doors to archaeological exploration, enriches our understanding of our species’ journey across continents, and highlights the fundamental role of this region in shaping human history, concluded Professor Pagani.


Griffith University | Vallini, L., Zampieri, C., Shoaee, M.J. et al. The Persian plateau served as hub for Homo sapiens after the main out of Africa dispersal. Nat Commun 15, 1882 (2024). doi.org/10.1038/s41467-024-46161-7

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