Several sites on the Portuguese littoral (Acafora, Magoito, Praia da Aguda, Laredo das Corchas, and Leifio) are said to be Lower Pleistocene, but their real age is uncertain. They were enthusiastically collected, mainly by amateurs, following the first publications about the “Oldowan Industry” in East Africa . Especially the great L.S.B. Leaky did much to make Choppers and Chopping Tools popular for a wider audience after the 1930ies.
Suggested dating (200-600 k.a BP) of the choppers in Portugal, which are surface finds with no stratigraphic context, was solely based on their archaic appearance. Many of these pieces may be in fact geofacts. After the findings at the Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain , there is no doubt that the lower Paleolithic of the Iberian Peninsula is very old. Some influential scholars have argued that the first human colonization of Europe would have been episodic, at least until the early Middle Pleistocene (“short chronology”). However, there is now increasingly evidence from S/W-England, Spain and Italy favoring the hypothesis that Western Europe was occupied for the first time over a million years ago.
The earliest fossil hominid remains in Europe, from around 780 k.a BP or older were found in the Gran Dolina, layer TD6, a site in the Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain. At Level TD-6 the micromammal species represent the late Biharian (Mimomys savini zone), and the lithic artifacts exhibit a Mode-1 technology. The origin of the TD-6 hominins is unknown, but they may represent a speciation event from Homo ergaster/Homo erectus. In addition along with the Atapuerca TD6 site, the BL and FN3 sites in the Orce basin, dated here as older than 780 k.a BP and probably older than 1.07 Ma and the newly discovered Vallparadís site (Barcelona, Spain), dated from the upper boundary of the Jaramillo subchron. In S/W-England, the Pakefield site, discovered in 2005, gave evidence for an secured early date of 700 k.a (MIS 17or late MIS 19). The Happisburgh Site 3 (HSB3), is dated to ca. 850 or possibly ca. 950 k.a. BP. Together with a mode-1 industry, Happisburgh has the earliest evidence of hominin footprints outside Africa, dating to between ca. 1 and 0.78 My with estimated body dimensions that fall within the range of the evidence from Homo antecessor fossils. Environmental data show, that our ancestors in England coped both with Mediterranean-type climate (Pakefield) and temperate and cool temperate climates with mosaic habitats (Happisburgh) as well. The Pirro Nord site, situated at the north-western margin of the Gargano promontory in Apulia, close to the village of Apricena was dated between 1.3 and 1.6 Ma on a bichronological basis. Pirro Nord became important by the discovery of an unequivocal Mode-1 industry. The reduction sequences at this site were always short and opportunistic, finalized to obtain flakes that were only rarely retouched.
Evidence for Early Palaeolithic industries with an in situ context indicates that Hominins were allready present on the European continent in the center of France around 1.1 Ma (Pont-de-Lavaud in the Creuse Valley, Lunery in the Cher Valley and Saint-Hilaire-la-Gravelle in the Loire Valley). At Lunery, for example, ca. 500 pieces have been collected and can be related to a human action. At these early sites, Hominids are present in deposits that relate to the beginning and end of cold Periods. This Evidence and data from other early Paleolithic European sites now clearly indicate that Hominids reached the latitude of 45 N and indeed further north towards eastern England during warm and temperate episodes.
A critical view of these “archaic findings”: