January 1, 2011

Green wet Sahara

Happy new year, by the way.

I want to call your attention to a post by Razib in which he reviews a new paper on the archaeology of transitional Pleistocene-Holocene "wet Sahara", including many interesting maps and quotes from the original paper, which is:

Nick A. Drake et al., Ancient watercourses and biogeography of the Sahara explain the peopling of the desert. PNAS 2010. Pay per view (depending on world region and at worst for six months only).

I won't comment on it at least until it becomes freely available but the maps are quite interesting, as is the suggestion that this lush scenario may have been related to the flow of Nilo-Saharan languages (and some genetic packages probably associated with them).

Update (Jan 3): another review can be found at LiveScience.


  1. Yes, happy new year to you too and thanks for the information.

    PS : One of your link doesn't work.

    Don's maps direct to http://www.blogger.com/http//www.donsmaps.com/

    instead of http://www.donsmaps.com/

  2. Thanks. I'll correct immediately. :)

  3. Late Pleistocene only. It would be really interesting to know other periods of increased lushness of the Sahara.

  4. Razib mentions that the 120-100 Ka Abbassia Pluvial was similar, while the 50 Ka Mousterian pluvial was much drier and would not have allowed human migration except through the narrow Nile corridor and the Red Sea coasts.

    However, as I have not read the paper, I do not know how correct is this claim.

    He then suggests that this really makes the coastal migration through South Arabia compulsory. Yet, I think he's judging too much on very questionable MC guesstimates.

    The archaeological record seems to suggest a migration to Arabia c. 90 Ka and to South Asia c. 80 Ka (but there is a previous period since c. 120 Ka in which South Asia shows non-Mousterian Middle Paleolithic assemblages, including the oldest known blades, which may be argued to be a first wave of our species, however this is not supported by any Arabian archaeology, though might correlate with Palestinian one).


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