Aurignacian cave paintings, Chauvet Cave. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

No More Than 1,500 People Inhabited Europe 42,000 Years Ago

According to a recently published study, the European continent was a very lonely place in the distant past.

Based on new studies, scientists estimate that no more than 1,500 people lived on the continent between 42,000 and 33,000 years ago.


According to scientists, our species, Homo Sapiens are thought to have arrived in the region some 43,000 years ago.

However, no one really knew how many people came, and how many settled down.

But a new study from scientists of the University of Cologne, studying archeological evidence from a period known as the Aurignacian between 42,000 and 33,000 years ago believe no more than 1,500 people inhabited the continent.

“Results of the analytical approach applied estimate a mean of 1,500 persons (upper limit: 3,300; lower limit: 800) for western and central Europe,” wrote experts in their study published in PLOS ONE.

The researchers argue that only 13 regions had human life split into around 35 different groups of early humans containing 42 individuals each.

Their discoveries are based on research on the location of the approximately 400 Aurignacian sites stretching from modern-day Spain to modern-day Poland.

Based on analysis of the different sites, and by plotting the size and proximity to one another, they argue that no more than 13 sites of 400 were inhabited.

Scientists came to this conclusion by analyzing archeological discoveries in the area and debating on how certain areas would have interacted among one another.

Based on how the sites grouped together, experts assume that the 13 regions were home to around 35 different hunter-gatherer groups with around 42 people in each.

As noted in the study, the “highest estimated population numbers are found in SW France (440 persons), N Spain (260 persons), Belgium (210), the middle Danube/Moravian (170 persons), and the upper Danube area (140 persons).”

“Generating absolute population estimates for this period is incredibly difficult. We are working with a limited range of low-resolution data and are forced at each stage to rely on multiple, justifiable, but often largely untested, assumptions,” explained Jennifer French from the University College London in an interview with New Scientist.

“There is some precedent in previous studies for generally low Aurignacian population estimates. Findings like this are a stark reminder of the dramatic differences between life in modern Europe and in the Europe of the Stone Age. We need to be much better at ‘thinking small’, so to speak,” she added.

Written by Curiosmos

Created with love for the passionately Curious. was created with two words in mind: Curious and Cosmos. See what we did there? Curious: /ˈkjʊərɪəs/ eager to know or learn something. Something strange; unusual. Cosmos /ˈkɒzmɒs/ the universe seen as a well-ordered whole. A system of thought. You could say that Curiosmos is the Cosmos for the curious reader.

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