59. Where was Humanity's 'Garden of Eden' From where came our earliest ancestors?
Updated: Apr 16, 2020
Different cultures have their own stories explaining this question which affects us all, and the exact location from which we emerged and dispersed has been long debated.
The earliest Anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) appeared in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago in a vast wetland south of the Zambezi river which was the cradle of all mankind, according to a recent paper published in the journal Nature.
Lead researcher Professor Vanessa Hayes, a geneticist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, said that her team has recently pinpointed a fertile river valley south of Zambezi river in northern Botswana as the ancestral home of all human beings, which sustained our ancestors for 70,000 years.
Originally, this lush region was home to an enormous lake which sustained our ancestors. However, between 110,000 and 130,000 years ago, the climate started to change and fertile corridors opened up out of this valley. For the first time, the population began to disperse – paving the way for modern humans to migrate out of Africa, and ultimately, across the world.
The Aborigines of Australia are considered one of the oldest surviving cultures in the world. Many different creation stories exist among the different Aboriginal groups. Their ‘Dreamtime’ stories describe a place where every person exists forever. The origins of these ancient Aboriginal communities, nearest neighbours to my own nation of NZ, are thought to have migrated to Northern Australia from Asia using primitive boats.
A current theory holds that those early migrants themselves came out of Africa about 70,000 years ago, which would make Aboriginal Australians the oldest population of humans living outside Africa.
New Zealand's original Māori inhabitants were settlers who had migrated from eastern Polynesia. According to Māori legend, the world as we know it was formed when Tane Mahuta – the god of the forest – prised apart Ranginui, the father of the sky, and Papatuanuku, the mother of the earth.