Image for The oldest European

The oldest European

Duration: 05:00

Alice Roberts is in Romania, somewhere to the south of Transylvania, exploring the remote cave of Pestera Cu Oase (the Cave of Bones). In 2002, divers discovered a hidden chamber full of bones. Silviu tells Alice about discovering cave bear bones and then, amongst them, pieces of a human skull, which they painstakingly fitted back together. The skull is 40,000 years old - the oldest remains of our species in Europe. The skull has a big round braincase just like us, but has very big teeth compared to modern people, and a more rugged-looking face. Forensic sculptor Richard Neave has used the skull to reconstruct what the person looked liked. He doesn't know if the skull was a man's or a woman's - it is rather androgenous. The facial features - as expected for such an old skull - are generic, with hints of African, European and Asian characteristics. The earliest Europeans were much darker skinned than later Europeans, having only just arrived from more tropical places.

Available since: Mon 14 Dec 2009

Credits

Presenter
Dr Alice Roberts
Director
Philip Smith
Producer
Paul Bradshaw
Executive Producer
Kim Shillinglaw
Presenter
Dr Alice Roberts
Director
Philip Smith
Producer
Paul Bradshaw
Executive Producer
Kim Shillinglaw

This clip is from

The Incredible Human Journey Europe

Looking at how our species coped with the rival Neanderthals and the Ice Age.

First broadcast: 24 May 2009

Image for Europe Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

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