Paleontologists agree that humans moved out of Africa about 70,000 years ago, and spread out across the world. Several theories exist about their migration routes, and recent geentic studies of the Y-chromosome with samples taken from all over the world have helped figure out their historical movements. A popular theory suggests they first crossed over to Central Asia and eastwards to India, then Southeast Asia, with one branch walking on to Australia and another through the frozen Bering Strait to the Americas.
A study by German palaeontologist Gudrun Corvinus in 1984 published definitive evidence of prehistoric settlements in Nepal’s mid-mountain region. ‘The research has yielded an unexpected number of Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic sites and filled the lacuna of knowledge about prehistoric settlements in Nepal,’ wrote Corvinus in a paper published in the journal Ancient Nepal in July 1985, which mentioned sites in Dang and Deukhuri with remains of hand-axe flakes, blades, adzes, core-scrapers and points.
For the first time, this proved that the entire belt of valleys at the foothills of the Chure, perhaps including Surkhet, was inhabited by prehistoric peoples. ‘There is no question now that during the prehistoric times Nepal, too, was occupied by people who fashioned stone age tools and were able to penetrate through the thick forests of Terai,’ writes Corvinus, adding that prehistoric people may have stopped by in western Nepal on their way to Europe via the Caucasus and eastwards. The relics in many parts of Nepal are similar to ones in Vietnam and Thailand, indicating that the Nepal Chure route was used by humans to travel to Southeast Asia, bypassing what at that time must have been dangerous jungles of the Gangetic plains.
Corvinus concludes that prehistoric people settled along the hospitable foothills of the Chure hills 12,000-30,000 years ago. But today, with soil erosion and changes in geography, it is increasingly difficult to find evidence as the prehistoric objects are first exposed and then washed away.
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