History has a funny way of shattering the lies that are allowed to permeate societies today because the further back in history you go, the more unusual it is to our world now. This fact has played out once again with the recent discovery that the so-called 'Cheddar Man,' Britain's oldest complete skeleton, had dark brown skin, brown hair, and blue eyes!
Scientists believe he lived around 10,000 years ago in the Mesolithic period, the middle part of the Stone Age. He's called the 'Cheddar Man' because his remains were discovered in 1903 in Southwest England in a large village called Cheddar in the county of Somerset.
The research was conducted by the Natural History Museum and University College London and their data has been accepted into a peer-reviewed journal. The new research suggests that the Cheddar Man belonged to a population of Western hunter-gatherers who migrated to Europe around 12,000 BCE (14,000 years ago). The data also suggests that 10% of Britain's present-day population can trace their ancestry back to these prehistoric peoples.
The data also suggests that the peopling of ancient Briton evolved over the course of thousands of years after waves of newer populations came in leaving their genetic fingerprint on the population.
As written earlier in this article, the truth is that the further back you go in history, the assumption of the "whiteness" of Europe becomes increasingly uncertain. Why is that? That answer is given below.
There is another 7,000 year old fossil of a Western hunter-gatherer that was discovered in Spain recently that further confirms the 'Cheddar Man' findings. The most interesting revelation however is the reality that modern European skin color didn't come about until after 6,000 years ago.
The African Presence in Early Europe
Dr. Ivan Van Sertima published 'The African Presence in Early Europe' in 1987. In that book, several authors (but one in particular named Don Luke) made the argument that early Europeans were black. So this truth has been known for decades now and has only, within the past decade, been proven by DNA analysis.
This was written in 1987 and is based on much earlier works. Notice the mention of waves of migration into Europe. While not unknown at the time, it was assumed by mainstream scholars to have been waves of white migrants. Though that would happen much later in the timeline, it has been known for decades that there were more ancient waves that predated the ones carrying genes for lighter skin.
When describing the covering up of the early inhabitants of the British Isles during his time, Don Luke wrote that...
I first read this book years ago, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima and his books were my early introduction into ancient black history in Africa and around the globe. Luke goes on to write about evidence of ancient black populations in Scandinavia and suggests that early references to 'Black Dwarves' and 'Dark Elves' in Norse mythology may have referenced dark-skinned individuals. We are talking about ancient mythological lore which would've been inspired by local beliefs and understandings. So weaving stories and tales inspired by even more ancient populations and using descriptors like 'black' and 'dark' to define them should probably be taken more literally now given what we know the DNA says.
In the past, it might have been argued that 'black' in reference to 'Black Dwarves' was more in reference to their working metals and smelting in the mountains which would've created a lot of smoke thereby making them appear black because of it. Well, that's one explanation. Another explanation is that the tales were actually referencing prehistoric black populations that were the first in that area. I digress.
If you want to know more about this topic, there's an entire book written on it that I believe to this day, does a better job than most.
The Genetic Mutation That Created White Skin
White skin has an interesting genetic history and the evolution of it has occurred throughout several phases. There is no one gene that determines your complexion, regardless of how light or dark you are. So different genes developed at different times in human history. What is clear though is that the skin tone that we assign to Europeans today wasn't a reality until fairly recent historically-speaking.
People have known this, in various ways, for a long time now. Research from 2015 confirmed this recent data about the 'Cheddar Man' and it was shown how modern European whiteness evolved over at least 2 separate waves. One of those waves came from the Near East via Turkey only 5,800 years ago.
African people are the most genetically diverse group of people on the planet. Which makes sense given that's where the human race began. There is science now though to suggest that there are genes that code for lighter skin in Europeans that are also in certain African populations that are far more ancient than in Europeans...meaning those African people would be the originators of that mutation.
Lighter skin doesn't mean white necessarily, however, so just because Africans were the first to carry some of these genes due to their genetic diversity, doesn't mean there were large populations of white people in Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago.