What is the evidence for the migration of humans out of Africa? Why is it thought that this movement of peoples took place? What role may conflict between groups have played in this early movement of peoples and in the development of the earliest human societies?

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There are several different theories in paleoanthropology which posit the African origins of humanity, and its subsequent migration. None of these theories is very precise in terms of chronology, and the first of them, generally called "Out of Africa I," allows a latitude of over one million years for the departure of archaic humans from Africa to Eurasia. Both this theory and the now more widely accepted "Out of Africa II" theory, which suggests a more recent departure of homo sapiens from Africa, are based on the fossil record. The earliest remains of both archaic humans such as Austalopithecus and anatomically modern humans (homo sapiens) have been discovered in Africa, and the dispersal of other finds by paleoanthropologists suggest a pattern of migration across the south of Europe and Asia, with Israel and Greece being two of the first ports of call. Clearly, these patterns are tentative and subject to revision on the basis of further discoveries, as the successive "Out of Africa" theories demonstrate.

Theories concerning the reasons for migration are even more tentative than ideas about routes and patterns. One idea is that, as populations grew, they found themselves in conflict, both in terms of direct aggression and in competition for food. These conflicts may also have played a role in the adoption of permanent homes that could be defended more easily than an encampment, leading to the eventual development of agriculture and more advanced societies. Other theories suggest that changing climate patterns forced people to migrate. There are even theories that nomadic tribes with no fixed homes did not know that they were migrating, and unwittingly traversed thousands of miles over the course of centuries and millennia.

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