Europe has been populated by the genus Homo since ancient times, at least in its southern and central part, thanks to the ease of access by man through the “continental bridges” of the Strait of Gibraltar and the Dardanelles. Its geographical position and, subsequently, the economic development of Mediterranean societies have always represented a call for non-European peoples, a call that continues today and is the basis of the great variety of human types and subtypes that currently populate it. Lithic finds (choppers , chopping tools) attributed to Homo erectus have been found in numerous sites whose dating (still uncertain) dates back to 1.8-0.7 million years ago: the richest deposits have been identified in France (Saint-Vallier, Rochelampert, Chilhac, Vallonet, Soleihac), in Serbia (Sandalja) and in Italy (Montepoggiolo, Forlì; Isernia La Pineta). Few fossil remains of bones and teeth certainly of Homo erectus unearthed so far; the oldest date back to a period between 700,000 and 450,000 years ago: Heidelberg, in Germany; Stranska-Skala, in the Czech Republic; Petralona, Greece; Azych, in Azerbaijan; Tautavel-Arago, in France; Atapuerca, in Spain; Ranuccio Fountain (Anagni), Visogliano (Trieste), in Italy; Vertesszöllös, in Hungary; in the latter site there are evident traces of hearths, as well as in Terra Amata and Quinson, in France, and in Torrimpietra, near Rome. The morphological differences, albeit minimal, would demonstrate a local evolution of regional forms that is accentuated in the more recent Homo erectus (dated between 400,000 and 130,000 years ago) and which, according to some scholars (MA de Lumley and others), prelude to Neanderthals. The most important sites are in France (Tautavel-Arago; Vergranne; Montmaurin; Orgnac; Lazaret; Fontechevade; La Chaise; Biache Saint-Vaast), in Italy (Visogliano, Trieste; Castel di Guido, Rome; grotta del Principe, Ventimiglia), in Spain (Cova Negra, Bañolas), Germany (Steinheim) and Great Britain (Swanscombe), indicating the great diffusion of these men during the Pleistocene glaciations. Precisely this geological-environmental factor could be the direct cause of regional differentiations and of the “autonomous” evolution directed towards forms (Presapiens), considered direct ancestors of the Neanderthals, which all date back to the Riss-Würm interglacial and whose most significant finds have been found in Ehringsdorf, Germany; Saccopastore, in Italy; Ganovce, in Slovakia; Krapina, Croatia. The “final” result of this European evolution of the genus Homo are to be considered the Neanderthals (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) which expanded, from the end of the interglacial Riss-Würm to the “hot” Würm II-Würm III stage, up to East Asia and northern Africa. During the Würm glaciation, at least from 40,000 years ago, spread to Europe, from North Africa and, according to some scholars, even from the Near East, the Cromagnonoidi (Homo sapiens sapiens). These nomadic hunters also differed in regional forms and probably hybridized with the last Neanderthals, as the finds from Le Piage (France), Cueva del Pendo (Spain), Brno, Pavlov, Dolní Věstonice, Přdmost, Mladec ( Czech Republic), Bacho Kiro (Bulgaria). See countryaah for more information about Northern Europe.
At the end of the Würm glaciation, Europe became the object of new migrations: first came groups of hunter-gatherers from North Africa (Protomediterranei, which according to G. Sergi went as far as the Aralo-Caspian basin). These peoples peacefully merged with the native descendants of the Cromagnonoids, giving rise to various peoples whose most significant descendants are probably the Iberians and the Ligurians; according to some scholars also Germans, Celts and Slavs who, however, from the anthropological point of view present more or less marked hybridizations with Iranian peoples. In the same period, in fact, Eastern Europe was affected by various migrations of hunter peoples of Asian origin (Ugrofinni), while the penetration of Iranian peoples began, nomadic hunters who in the South of today’s Russia gave rise to peoples such as the Scythians. and the Sarmatians. However, between the eighth and fourth millennium b. C. Europe was still sparsely populated, so much so as to allow a good standard of living for the numerous ethnic groups of hunters and gatherers who were affected by a rapid demographic growth. Still the subject of investigation and discussion is the emergence of agriculture, which only after the fourth millennium a. C. asserts itself in continental Europe: according to some scholars this new economic system was spread by people from the Middle East along the Danube axis; according to others it is due to an indigenous development, only partially influenced by the agricultural cultures of the Mediterranean. In any case, as early as the second millennium a. C. commercial exchanges with the great Mediterranean civilizations were very frequent. In this period the first massive internal migrations took place, Latins, Illyrians, Umbrians, Venetians, Samnites, Hellenes, Etruscans, etc.). A little later the Celts spread to France, Spain and Italy, perhaps under the pressure of the Slavic peoples who reached the heart of present-day Germany. At the beginning of the present era, the people known as “Germans” moved from Northern Europe and spread southwards; at the same time there were infiltrations of Asian nomads (Huns, Tatars, etc.) in Eastern Europe up to Italy and central Europe. The anthropological framework that led to the formation of human types included in the so-called ” europoid group “. A resumption of migration from the outside occurred from the century. VIII with the Arabs who settled in Spain and Sicily; from the century X Asian peoples (Peceneghi, Cumani, Mongoli) pushed themselves into Eastern Europe as far as the Balkans; later (XIV century) the Turks they spread to the Balkans and southern Russia. Since that date, the population of Europe has been stabilizing, even if, due to the political-military events, the anthropological framework has undergone modifications several times deriving from repeated hybridizations between the various human, European and partly Arab-Asian types. Therefore, we can distinguish some fairly homogeneous areas: the Latin-Celtic (Spain, France, Italy) with Germanic and Arab influences; the Celto-Germanic one (Germany and Great Britain), with Scandinavian influences; the Scandinavian one in the far North; the Slavic one, in central-eastern and eastern Europe, with inclusions of Asian peoples in Finland, Russia, the Baltic countries, Hungary and Bulgaria.