Human Migration From Africa Lingered in Persia For 20,000 Years

Humans left Africa between 70,000 and 60,000 years ago, but our ancestors did not spread out across Eurasia for another 20,000 years. A new study addresses that huge gap in our understanding of early human migration.

It argues that the Persian plateau provided a “home away from home” for Homo sapiens during this time. And when conditions were right, they struck out from launching pad across Europe and Asia.

Graph showing likely hub locations.

White to light yellow hues show the most likely Hub location from a genetic perspective. Photo: Nature

Colonization of Eurasia a complex scenario

Scientists have previously suggested a “hub” population was vital for later waves of migration. It was a “complex scenario, encompassing multiple expansions and local extinctions,” the new study explains.

Previous studies did not address where this Hub population came from.

The authors used genetic, fossil, and archaeological findings to pinpoint it as the Persian (or Iranian) plateau. The region covers roughly 3,700,000 square kilometers across parts of modern-day Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

A topographic map if the Persian plateau.

A topographic map of the Persian plateau, bordered by the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Photo: Elisee Reclus/Wikimedia Commons


The region seems to have been more hospitable to large numbers of people than other potential staging areas. For 20,000 years, it was the cradle of civilization before the restless early humans began to fan out across Eurasia.

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is a writer and editor for ExplorersWeb.

Martin has been writing about adventure travel and exploration for over five years.

Martin spent most of the last 15 years backpacking the world on a shoestring budget. Whether it was hitchhiking through Syria, getting strangled in Kyrgyzstan, touring Cambodia’s medical facilities with an exceedingly painful giant venomous centipede bite, chewing khat in Ethiopia, or narrowly avoiding various toilet-related accidents in rural China, so far, Martin has just about survived his decision making.

Based in Da Lat, Vietnam, Martin can be found out in the jungle trying to avoid leeches while chasing monkeys.