The first Indians

When the first group of modern humans walked into India, perhaps no more than a few hundred people in groups of twenty or twenty-five, trekking all the way from the Arabian peninsula over hundreds of years or perhaps even a thousand or more years, did they have a cosmology of their own that tried to explain the inexplicable? And did they have any inkling that they were entering a special place that more than a billion of their descendants would one day call their home? We are unlikely to ever know the answers to such questions, but there are other questions that we can crack with the technology and material evidence that we have. Questions such as: when they entered India, were they walking into a country that they had all to themselves — like the first modern humans in Australia or the Americas — or did they have competition in the form of other members of the Homo species, like in the Levant and Arabia? Did they tangle with each other? Or did they tango? Did our ancestors drive the others to extinction? Did they bring advanced technology — like bows and arrows and spears — or did they come with just a Middle Palaeolithic stone toolkit of scrapers, axes and sharp flakes that could be used as blades? And, of course, what did they look like? Do we have their direct descendants among us today? How big a brood have they left behind? Where can we find them?

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