The 1.6 Million-Year-Old Discovery that Changes What We Know About Human Evolution

By Bo Beard | May 11, 2024

Steven Mithen

Recent studies have identified the probable period in ancient history when humans initiated speech.

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According to findings by British archaeologist Steven Mithen, it is proposed that early humans began to form basic language approximately 1.6 million years ago, possibly originating in regions of eastern or southern Africa.

Early prehistory

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Dr. Mithen, who holds the position of professor of early prehistory at the University of Reading, informed The Independent saying, “Humanity’s development of the ability to speak was without doubt the key which made much of subsequent human physical and cultural evolution possible. That’s why dating the emergence of the earliest forms of language is so important.”