The Cave With Bones

As you (probably) know, my wont is to watch other people’s documentaries in my spare time. Some of them are truly amazing, and that includes a BBC documentary called The Incredible Human Journey, a 5-part series that was shown in Britain in 2009.

Regrettably, there’s no legal way to watch this show online if you live outside of Britain. The good news however is that, for now, this link goes to Part 3 of the documentary. And it starts off right here in good old Romania with the Peștera cu Oase or “The Cave with Bones”.

Despite the fact that Alice Roberts completely butchers her pronunciation of Spanish words, she actually does a pretty good job of saying the name of the cave in Romanian correctly. Since she’s British we have to give her double points as for some reason English people are the world’s worst at speaking other languages. So bravo to her :)

The entire documentary addresses what is known as the Out of Africa theory, which is quite extraordinarily interesting and makes this film worth watching. Roughly speaking, it says that all non-African people today, that is to say Europeans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, aboriginal Australians and all (native) American people are descended from a tiny group (as in less than 1,000 people) of homo sapiens (aka “modern humans”) who left Africa between 60,000 and 125,000 years ago.

The current consensus is that humans descended from apes which all lived in Africa. What makes this “Out of Africa” theory very weird though is that there were several other groups of earlier forms of humans, including homo erectus and the Neanderthals who left Africa much earlier but then were all wiped out and only homo sapiens survived and all non-African people today are descended from that one tiny group who left all those years ago.

At the moment, the oldest known bones from that first wave of homo sapiens into Europe came from the Peștera cu Oase here in Romania. What’s also very interesting (and not discussed in the documentary) is that the oldest writing found in Europe also comes from Romania.

Putting this all together, plus the more conventional known history of the peoples who lived in Romania, including of course the Dacians, the Romans and the various bands of Goths, it is indisputable that people have been living in Romania a very, very, very long time. I think sometimes that Romania has a different “feel” to it than do other countries, precisely because there really is so much history here. I don’t know what legacy people leave behind after living in a place continuously for 45,000 years but whatever it is, you can feel it.

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