List of first human settlements
The list is divided into four categories, Middle Paleolithic (before 50,000 years ago), Upper Paleolithic (50,000 to 12,500 years ago), Holocene (12,500 to 500 years ago) and Modern (Age of Sail and modern exploration). List entries are identified by region (in the case of genetic evidence spatial resolution is limited) or region, country or island, with the date of the first known or hypothesised modern human presence (or "settlement", although Paleolithic humans were not sedentary).
Human "settlement" does not necessarily have to be continuous; settled areas in some cases become depopulated due to environmental conditions, such as glacial periods or the Toba volcanic eruption. Early Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa from as early as 270,000 years ago, although permanent presence outside of Africa may not have been established until after about 70,000 years ago.
Before Homo sapiens, Homo erectus had already spread throughout Africa and non-Arctic Eurasia by about one million years ago (see Out of Africa I). The oldest known evidence for anatomically modern humans (as of 2017[update]) are fossils found at Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, dated about 300,000 years old.
|North Africa||Morocco||318–254||Jebel Irhoud||Anatomically modern human remains of eight individuals dated 300,000 years old, making them the oldest known remains categorized as "modern" (as of 2018[update]).|||
|West Asia||Turkey||316–219||Neanderthal admixture||Genetic evidence for early Homo sapiens admixture to Neanderthals in West Asia, discovered in 2017.|||
|Horn of Africa||Ethiopia||200–190||Omo Kibish Formation||The Omo remains found in 1967 near the Ethiopian Kibish Mountains, dated stratigraphically to 195 ± 5 ka. Also see Ledi-Geraru.|||
|West Asia||Israel||195–177||Misliya Cave, Mount Carmel||Fossil maxilla is apparently older than remains found at Skhyul and Qafzeh. Layers dating from between 250,000 and 140,000 years ago in the same cave contained tools of the Levallois type which could put the date of the first migration even earlier if the tools can be associated with the modern human jawbone finds.|||
|Southern Africa||South Africa||200–110||Klasies River Caves, population genetics||Remains found in the Klasies River Caves in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa show signs of human hunting dated c. 125 ka. There is some debate as to whether these remains represent anatomically modern humans.|||
|East Africa||Sudan||160–140||Singa||Anatomically modern human discovered 1924 with rare temporal bone pathology|||
|West Asia, Arabia||United Arab Emirates||125||Jebel Faya||Stone tools made by anatomically modern humans (discovered 2011).|||
|West Asia, Arabia||Oman||125–75||Aybut||Tools found in the Dhofar Governorate correspond with African objects from the so-called 'Nubian Complex', dating from 75–125,000 years ago. According to archaeologist Jeffrey I. Rose, human settlements spread east from Africa across the Arabian Peninsula.|||
|Central Africa||Democratic Republic of the Congo||90||Katanda, Upper Semliki River||Semliki harpoon heads carved from bone.|||
|East Asia||China, PRC||80||Fuyan Cave||Teeth were found under rock over which 80,000 years old stalagmites had grown.|||
|North Africa||Libya||80–65||Haua Fteah||Fragments of 2 mandibles discovered in 1953|||
|South Asia||India||70–66||population genetics||
Genetic evidence suggests first settlement 70–66 kya. Available fossil evidence from Sri Lanka has been dated to 34 kya.
|Southeast Asia||Sumatra, Indonesia||73–63||Lida Ajer cave||Teeth found in Sumatra in the 19th century|||
|Southeast Asia||Luzon, Philippines||67||Callao Cave||Mijares and Piper (2010) found bones in a cave near Peñablanca, Cagayan, dated ca. 67 kya, the oldest known modern human fossil from the Asia-Pacific region|||
|North Africa||Egypt||50–80||Taramasa Hill||Skeleton of 8- to 10-year-old child discovered in 1994|||
|Australia||Arnhem Land, Australia||65–50||Madjedbebe||The oldest human skeletal remains are the 40ky old Lake Mungo remains in New South Wales, but human ornaments discovered at Devil's Lair in Western Australia have been dated to 48 kya and artifacts at Madjedbebe in Northern Territory are dated to at least 50 kya, and to 62.1±2.9 ka (95% CI) in one 2017 study.|||
|Region||Country / island||Date (kya)||Place||Notes||Ref(s)|
|South America||Northeast Region, Brazil||56–41?||Pedra Furada||Hypothetical Pleistocene peopling of the Americas: charcoal from the oldest layers yielded dates of 41,000–56,000 BP.|||
|East Asia||Honshu, Japan||47||Lake Nojiri||Genetic research indicates arrival of humans in Japan by 37,000 BP. Archeological remains at the Tategahana Paleolithic Site at Lake Nojiri have been dated as early as 47,000 BP.|||
|Southeast Asia, Indochina||Laos||46||Tam Pa Ling Cave||In 2009 an ancient skull was recovered from a cave in the Annamite Mountains in northern Laos which is at least 46,000 years old, making it the oldest modern human fossil found to date in Southeast Asia|||
|Europe||45–43||The earliest known remains of Cro-Magnon-like humans are radiocarbon dated to 43,000–45,000 BP, found in Italy and Great Britain.|||
|Europe||Italy||45–44||Grotta del Cavallo, Apulia||Two baby teeth discovered in Apulia in 1964 are the earliest modern human remains yet found in Europe.|||
|Europe||Great Britain, United Kingdom||44–41||Kents Cavern||Human jaw fragment found in Torquay, Devon in 1927|||
|Europe||Germany||43–42||Geißenklösterle, Baden-Württemberg||Three Paleolithic flutes belonging to the early Aurignacian, which is associated with the assumed earliest presence of Homo sapiens in Europe (Cro-Magnon). It is the oldest example of prehistoric music.|||
|Europe, Baltic||Lithuania||43–41||Šnaukštai near Gargždai||A hammer made from reindeer horn similar to those used by the Bromme culture was found in 2016. The discovery pushed back the earliest evidence of human presence in Lithuania by 30,000 years, i.e. to before the last glacial period.|||
|Southeast Asia||East Timor||42||Jerimalai cave||Fish bones|||
|Australia||Tasmania||41||Jordan River Levee||Optically stimulated luminescence results from the site suggest a date ca. 41,000 BP. Rising sea level left Tasmania isolated after 8000 BP.|||
|Southeast Asia||Borneo, Malaysia||46–34?||Niah Cave||A human skull in Sarawak, Borneo (Archaeologists have claimed a much earlier date for stone tools found in the Mansuli valley, near Lahad Datu in Sabah, but precise dating analysis has not yet been published.)|||
|Southeast Asia||New Guinea||40||Indonesian Side of New Guinea||Archaeological evidence shows that 40,000 years ago, some of the first farmers came to New Guinea from the South-East Asian Peninsula.|||
|Europe||Romania||42–38||Peștera cu Oase|||
|East Asia||Hong Kong, PRC||39||Wong Tei Tung||Optically stimulated luminescence results from the site suggest a date ca. 39,000 BP.|||
|Europe||Russia||40–35?||Mamontovaya Kurya||Earliest evidence of human (not necessarily anatomically modern humans) presence at Arctic latitudes.|||
|Central Asia, Tibetan Plateau||Tibet, PRC||38||Salween River||Formerly dated to 15 kya, the date modern human presence in Tibet has been pushed back to at least 38 kya based on genetic evidence. Archaeological evidence from the bank of the Salween River in the southeastern Tibetan Plateau was dated between 32 and 39 kya.|||
|South Asia||Sri Lanka||34||Fa Hien Cave||The earliest remains of anatomically modern man, based on radiocarbon dating of charcoal, have been found in the Fa Hien Cave in western Sri Lanka.|||
|North America||Canada||40–25?||Bluefish Caves||Hypothetical Pleistocene peopling of the Americas: Human-worked mammoth bone flakes found at Bluefish Caves, Yukon.|||
|East Asia||Okinawa||32||Yamashita-cho cave, Naha city||Bone artifacts and an ash seam dated to 32,000±1000 BP.|||
|Europe||France||32||Chauvet Cave||The cave paintings in the Chauvet Cave in southern France have been called the earliest known cave art, though the dating is uncertain.|||
|Europe||Czech Republic||31||Mladeč caves||Oldest human bones that clearly represent a human settlement in Europe.|||
|Europe||Poland||30||Obłazowa Cave||A boomerang made from mammoth tusk|
|Southeast Asia||Buka Island, New Guinea||28||Kilu Cave||Flaked stone, bone, and shell artifacts|||
|East Asia||Taiwan, Republic of China||30–20||In 1972, fragmentary fossils of anatomically modern humans were found at Chouqu and Gangzilin, in Zuojhen District, Tainan, in fossil beds exposed by erosion of the Cailiao River. Though some of the fragments are believed to be more recent, three cranial fragments and a molar tooth have been dated as between 20,000 and 30,000 years old. The find has been dubbed "Zuozhen Man". No associated artifacts have been found at the site.|||
|Europe||Portugal||25||Abrigo do Lagar Velho||Possible Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon hybrid, the Lapedo child|||
|Europe||Sicily||20||San Teodoro cave||Human cranium dated by gamma-ray spectrometry|||
|North America||United States||16||Meadowcroft Rockshelter||Stone, bone, and wood artifacts and animal and plant remains found in Washington County, Pennsylvania. (Earlier claims have been made, but not corroborated, for sites such as Topper, South Carolina.)|||
|South America||Chile||15||Monte Verde||Carbon dating of remains from this site represent the oldest known settlement in South America.|||
|South America||Peru||14||Pikimachay||Stone and bone artifacts found in a cave of the Ayacucho complex|||
|North America||Santa Rosa Island||13||Arlington Springs site||Arlington Springs Man discovered in 1959. The four northern Channel Islands of California were once conjoined into one island, Santa Rosae|
|Region||Country / island||Date||Place||Notes||Ref(s)|
|Europe||Ireland, Republic of Ireland||12,500 BP||Gwendoline Cave||The patella of a bear, which was subject to butchering close to the time of death has been radiocarbon dated to 10,500 BCE|||
|Europe||Cyprus||12,500 BP||Aetokremnos||Burned bones of megafauna|||
|Americas, South America||Colombia||12,500 BP||El Abra||Stone, bone and charcoal artifacts|||
|Americas, North America||Triquet Island||12,000 BP||British Columbia|||
|Europe, Scandinavia||Norway||11,000 BP||Aukra||The oldest remnants of the so-called Fosna culture were found in Aukra in Møre og Romsdal.|||
|Americas, South America||Argentina||11,000 BP||Piedra Museo||Spear heads and human fossils|||
|Europe, Baltic||Estonia||11,000 BP||Pulli||The Pulli settlement on the bank of the Pärnu River briefly pre-dates that at Kunda, which gave its name to the Kunda culture.|||
|Africa, West Africa||Bioko, Equatorial Guinea||10,000 BP||Early Bantu migration|||
|Southeast Asia, Indochina||Cambodia||9,000 BP||Laang Spean||Laang Spean cave in the Stung Sangker River valley, Battambang Province|||
|Arctic, New Siberian Islands||Zhokhov Island||8,300 BP||Hunting tools and animal remains in the High Arctic; later abandoned and still uninhabited|||
|Pacific||Tuvalu||8,000 BP?||Caves of Nanumanga||Evidence of fire in a submerged cave last accessible 8000 BP[dubious ]. Polynesian settlement around 3000 BP, see Tuvalu#Pre-history|||
|Mediterranean||Malta||7,250 BP||Għar Dalam||Settlers from Sicily brought agriculture and impressed ware pottery.|||
|Caribbean||Trinidad||7,000 BP||Banwari Trace||Stone and bone artifacts mark the oldest archaeological site in the Caribbean.|||
|Caribbean||Puerto Rico||6,000 BP||Angostura site||Carbon dating of burial site|||
|Arctic||Greenland||4,000 BP||Saqqaq||Saqqaq culture was the first of several waves of settlement from northern Canada and from Scandinavia.|||
|Arctic||Baffin Island, Canada||4,000 BP||Pond Inlet||In 1969, Pre-Dorset remains were discovered, with seal bones radiocarbon dated to 2035 BCE|||
|Asia, Central Asia||Xinjiang, PRC||3,800 BP?||Tarim Basin||Tarim mummies|||
|Pacific||Mariana Islands||3,500 BP?||Unai Bapot, Saipan||Pottery similar to that from nowadays Philippines has been discovered. This was the longest human ocean voyage at the time.|||
|Arctic||Wrangel Island||3,400 BP||Chertov Ovrag||Sea-mammal hunting tools; later abandoned, with intermittent settlements 1914–present|||
|Pacific||Tonga||3,180 BP||Pea village on Tongatapu||Radiocarbon dating of a shell found at the site dates the occupation at 3180±100 BP.|||
|Pacific||Fiji||3,000 BP||Bourewa||Radiocarbon dating of a shell midden at Bourewa on Viti Levu Island shows earliest inhabitation at 1220–970 BCE.|||
|North Africa||Canary Islands||3,000 BP||Genetic studies show relation to Moroccan Berbers, but precise date uncertain.|||
|Pacific||Vanuatu||3,000 BP||Teouma etc.||Lapita pottery found at Teouma cemetery on Efate and on several other islands.|||
|Pacific||Samoa||3,000 BP||Mulifanua||Lapita site found at Mulifanua Ferry Berth Site by New Zealand scientists in the 1970s.|||
|Pacific||Hawaii||1,700 BP||Ka Lae||Early settlement from the Marquesas Islands|||
|Pacific||Line Islands||1,600 BP||When Polynesian traders travelling to and from Hawaii|||
|Indian Ocean / East Africa||Madagascar||1,500 BP||The population of Madagascar seems to have derived in equal measures from Borneo and East Africa.|||
|Indian Ocean / East Africa||Comoros||1,450 BP||Austronesian settlers arrived no later than the 6th century, based on archaeological evidence on Nzwani; settlement beginning as early as the 1st century has been postulated.|||
|Europe, North Atlantic||Faroe Islands||1,500 BP||Agricultural remains from three locations were analysed and dated to as early as the sixth century CE|||
|Caribbean||Bahamas||1,100 BP||Three Dog Site (SS21), San Salvador Island||Excavated midden includes quartz and Ostionoid ceramic artifacts, wood and seed remains, etc., dated to 800–900.|||
|Pacific||Huahine, French Polynesia||1,140 BP||Fa'ahia||Bird bones dated to 1140±90 BP|||
|Europe, North Atlantic||Iceland||CE 874 / 1,076 BP||Reykjavík||Ingólfr Arnarson, the first known Norse settler who came from mainland Norway, built his homestead in Reykjavík this year, though Norse or Hiberno-Scottish monks might have arrived up to two hundred years earlier.|||
|Pacific||Easter Island||CE 750–1150 / 1,200–800 BP||Anakena||Settled by voyagers from the Marquesas Islands, possibly as early as CE 300.|||
|Pacific||New Zealand||CE 1250 / 700 BP||Wairau Bar||Though some researchers suggest settlements as early as CE 50–150, that later became extinct, it is generally accepted that the islands were permanently settled by Eastern Polynesians (the ancestors of the Māori) who arrived about 1250–1300.|||
|Pacific||Norfolk Island||CE 1250 / 700 BP||Emily Bay||Settled by Polynesians, later abandoned. Resettled by British 1788.|||
|Pacific||Auckland Islands||CE 1250 / 700 BP||Sandy Bay, Enderby Island||Settled by Polynesians, later abandoned. Resettled from the Chatham Islands in 1842, later abandoned.|||
|Pacific||Kermadec Islands||CE 1350 / 600 BP||Settled by Polynesians by the 14th century (possibly previously, around the 10th century), later abandoned. Resettled by Europeans in 1810, later abandoned.|||
|Atlantic||Madeira||CE 1420 / 530 BP||Settlers from Portugal.|||
|Atlantic||Azores||CE 1439 / 511 BP||Santa Maria Island||Settlers from Portugal led by Gonçalo Velho Cabral.|||
|Atlantic||Cape Verde||CE 1462 / 488 BP||Cidade Velha||Settlers from Portugal founded the city as "Ribeira Grande."|||
|Atlantic / West Africa||São Tomé and Príncipe||CE 1485 / 465 BP||São Tomé||Portuguese settlement in 1485 failed but was followed in 1493 by a successful settlement led by Álvaro Caminha.|||
|Sea / region||Island||Date||Place||Notes||Ref(s)|
|South Atlantic||Saint Helena||1516||Settled by Fernão Lopes (soldier). Later populated by escaped slaves from Mozambique and Java, then by English in 1659.|||
|Atlantic, Gulf of Guinea||Annobón||1543||Alvaro da Cunha requested Portuguese royal charter in 1543 and by 1559 had settled Africans slaves there.|||
|Pacific, New Zealand||Chatham Islands||1550||Moriori settlers from New Zealand. This was the last wave of Polynesian migrations.|||
|Atlantic||Bermuda||1609||Settled by English survivors of the Sea Venture shipwreck, led by George Somers.|
|Arctic||Svalbard||1619||Smeerenburg||Settled by Dutch and Danish whalers 1619–1657. Longyearbyen founded 1906 and continuously inhabited except for World War II.|||
|Indian Ocean||Mauritius||1638||Vieux Grand Port||First settled by Dutch under Cornelius Gooyer.|||
|Indian Ocean||Réunion||1642||Settled 1642 by a dozen deported French mutineers from Madagascar, who were returned to France several years later. In 1665 the French East India Company started a permanent settlement.|
|Indian Ocean||Rodrigues||1691||Settled 1691 by a small group of French Huguenots led by François Leguat; abandoned 1693. The French settled slaves there in the 18th century.|||
|Pacific||Juan Fernández Islands||1750||San Juan Bautista||Settled by the Spanish to prevent its use by foreign powers and pirates. Destroyed in 1751 by a tsunami but soon rebuilt.|||
|South Atlantic||Falkland Islands||1764||Puerto Soledad||Settled by French (as "Port Saint Louis") during the expedition of Louis Antoine de Bougainville.|||
|Indian Ocean||Seychelles||1770||Ste. Anne Island||Although visited earlier by Maldivians, Malays and Arabs, the first known settlement was a spice plantation established by the French, first on Ste. Anne Island, then moved to Mahé. It is the sovereign state with the shortest history of human settlement (followed by Mauritius).|||
|Pacific||Floreana Island||1805||Black Beach||First settled 1805–1809 by Patrick Watkins. Later attempts in 1837, 1893, 1925, and 1929.|||
|Atlantic||Tristan da Cunha||1810||First settled by Jonathan Lambert and two other men. Continuously inhabited since then except 1961–1963 evacuation due to volcano.|||
|South Atlantic||Ascension Island||1815||Settled as a British military garrison.|
|Bering Sea||Commander Islands||1825||Russians brought Aleuts from Atka Island and Attu Island to settle Bering Island and Medny Island.||.|
|Indian Ocean||Cocos (Keeling) Islands||c. 1826||Settled c. 1826 by Alexander Hare and in 1827 by John Clunies-Ross.|||
|Pacific||Bonin Islands||1830||Port Lloyd, Chichi-jima||Some evidence of early settlement from the Marianas, but the islands were abandoned except for occasional shipwrecks until a group of Europeans, Polynesians, and Micronesians settled Chichi-jima in 1830.|||
|Tasman Sea||Lord Howe Island||1834||Blinky Beach||Whaling supply station.|||
|Indian Ocean||Île Saint-Paul||1843||Although now uninhabited, there have been attempts at settlement. In June 1843, a French garrison was established under the command of Polish-born Captain Adam Mierolawski, but it was soon abandoned. In 1928, a spiny lobster cannery was established, with the last three settlers rescued in 1934.|||
|Arctic||Novaya Zemlya||1870||Malye Karmakuly|||
|Indian Ocean||Île Amsterdam||1871||Camp Heurtin||Following various shipwrecks and visits by sealers and scientists in the 18th and 19th century, a short-lived settlement was made in 1871 by Heurtin, a French resident of Réunion Island. A French scientific base has been maintained since 1949.|||
|Indian Ocean||Christmas Island||1888||Flying Fish Cove||First European settlement established by George Clunies-Ross and John Murray with phosphate mining begun around 10 years later.|||
|Pacific||Daitō Islands||1900||Minamidaitōjima||Tamaki Hanemon obtained the approval to develop two of islands from Empire of Japan|
|Antarctic||South Orkney Islands||1903||Orcadas Base||Visited by sealers and whalers in the 19th century. Scientific base founded by Scottish National Antarctic Expedition and sold to Argentina in 1904.|
|South Atlantic||South Georgia||1904||Grytviken||Visited by sealers in the 19th century. Carl Anton Larsen founded a permanent whaling station in 1904.|
|South China Sea||Pratas Islands||1907||guano collecting station by Japanese businessman|||
|Arctic||Jan Mayen||1921||Eggøya||Visited by whalers in the 17th century, with some overwinter sojourns in 1633, 1882, and 1907. Weather station at Eggøya established 1921, followed by other weather and military stations. The current station, Olonkinbyen, has been continuously inhabited since 1958.|||
|Indian Ocean||Kerguelen Islands||1927||Port-Couvreux||After occasional sojourns and shipwrecks in the 19th century, three families settled in a sheep-farming colony but were evacuated in 1934. Scientific station at Port-aux-Français has been continuously inhabited since 1950.|
|Arctic, New Siberian Islands||Kotelny Island||1933||Soviet Naval Base.|||
|Antarctic||South Shetland Islands||1947||Captain Arturo Prat Base||Visited by sealers and explorers in the 19th century. Chilean naval base staffed continuously 1947–2004.|
|Indian Ocean||Prince Edward Islands||1947||Transvaal Cove||Visited by sealers and shipwrecks in the 19th century. South Africa occupied the islands in 1947 and established a meteorological station.|||
|Antarctica||1948||Base General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme||First permanent base in mainland Antarctica, operated by the Chilean Army.|
|Pacific||Macquarie Island||1948||Macquarie Island Station||Occasional sojourns and shipwrecks in the 19th century, continuously inhabited since 1948.|
|Indian Ocean||Crozet Islands||1963||Alfred Faure||Occasional shipwrecks and visiting sealers and whalers in the 19th century, continuously inhabited since 1963.|
|Arctic||Severnaya Zemlya||1974||Cape Baranov||A meteorological station was operated from 1974 to 1988. "Prima" Polar Station opened at some point in the 1980s.|||
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