May 16, 2011

Middle Paleolithic of Nefud (Arabia)

Yellow lines outline the deserts of Arabia, Nefud being at the North
Just a brief mention of a potentially important archaeological discovery of Middle Paleolithic deposits in the Nefud Desert, north of Arabia Peninsula.

Found via Neanderfollia[cat].


Abstract

Major hydrological variations associated with glacial and interglacial climates in North Africa and the Levant have been related to Middle Paleolithic occupations and dispersals, but suitable archaeological sites to explore such relationships are rare on the Arabian Peninsula. Here we report the discovery of Middle Paleolithic assemblages in the Nefud Desert of northern Arabia associated with stratified deposits dated to 75,000 years ago. The site is located in close proximity to a substantial relict lake and indicates that Middle Paleolithic hominins penetrated deeply into the Arabian Peninsula to inhabit landscapes vegetated by grasses and some trees. Our discovery supports the hypothesis of range expansion by Middle Paleolithic populations into Arabia during the final humid phase of Marine Isotope Stage 5, when environmental conditions were still favorable.

Being pay per view I have little more to say. However this paper should be put in context with the following:

  • Armitage 2011 (PPV, discussed here), which proposed a coastal migration c. 125 Ka. ago via South Arabia
  • Petraglia 2010 (accessible at Scribd) which extensively analyzes occupations Middle Paleolithic occupations in Arabia and South Asia
  • Bailey 2009 (Lower and Middle Paleolithic in Arabia peninsula) and Rose 2010 (Persian Gulf, then firm or swampy land, oasis). Both discussed here along with Fields 2007 on modeling migrations across South Asia.

A debate is left open on whether these findings of Nefud belong to our species or that of Neanderthals (or whatever). It is known that c. 70 Ka. Neanderthals were in parts of West Asia, at least in Syria, Palestine and Iraq... 

But it is also considered most plausible nowadays that our own species was expanded by then along the arch around the Indian Ocean, from Arabia to SE Asia. 

And this pesky desert of the Nefud is right in the middle... your call.

7 comments:

  1. "Major hydrological variations associated with glacial and interglacial climates in North Africa and the Levant"

    Yes. And those periodic changes would have pushed people out of the more arid regions, exactly as I proposed for Y-hap E in Afica.

    "Middle Paleolithic assemblages in the Nefud Desert of northern Arabia associated with stratified deposits dated to 75,000 years ago".

    They could be associated with the Ooa.

    "And this pesky desert of the Nefud is right in the middle... your call".

    Makes a mess of the 'Great Southern Coastal Migration Theory'.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "... would have pushed people out of the more arid regions"...

    Into already populated, more densely populated, regions where they would have been eaten for breakfast (or more likely dissolved into an ocean of other ancestries). Please don't start again.

    The pluvial phases are "openings of gates" at most never flash hothouses for masses of emigrants. Even in the pluvial periods they were surely of secondary interest at best.

    It's crazy to think that just because the gates were open, suddenly the gates became distinctive regions from where all the rest of the universe would be populated. They were still just "gates", borders, corridors, between other more important zones.

    "Makes a mess of the 'Great Southern Coastal Migration Theory'".

    As I told Petraglia back in the day, "coastal" does not mean strictly coastal for all clans at all times, "coastal" means:

    1. Not through Central Asia/Siberia (continental route) but across Tropical Asia, along the Indian Ocean (coastal route).

    2. Having at least the ability to exploit coastal habitats (confirmed) and to cross some lesser expanses of water, be them salty or fresh, seas or rivers, marshes or lakes (logical).

    It does not mean that the migrants were necessarily all and at all moments some sort of proto-Austronesians, almost living on their boats, not at all (though maybe some were at some times).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi, thanks to mention my blog ;)

    I have one question: despite all dates and hominids found in the region, aren't all non-Africans supposed to descend from the same group of AfriIf not, then how would we explain the simcans? ilar % of neanderthal DNA they have?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh sorry!

    I mean "from the same group of Africans? If not..." but due to this **** mouse I couldn't finish the sentence.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "... aren't all non-Africans supposed to descend from the same group of AfriIf not, then how would we explain the simcans? ilar % of neanderthal DNA they have?"

    Simcans? Ilar %?

    Can you reformulate the question? Though I believe I have already replied in extent at your blog anyhow.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Into already populated, more densely populated, regions where they would have been eaten for breakfast"

    Not everybody has the same attitude as you.

    "more likely dissolved into an ocean of other ancestries"

    Far more likely.

    "The pluvial phases are 'openings of gates' at most never flash hothouses for masses of emigrants".

    Surely such occasions would lead to increase in population numbers as the region available increased.

    "They were still just "gates", borders, corridors, between other more important zones".

    Rubbish. They would have been populated, as is shown by your own post. Quote from the paper:

    "Middle Paleolithic hominins penetrated deeply into the Arabian Peninsula to inhabit landscapes vegetated by grasses and some trees. Our discovery supports the hypothesis of range expansion by Middle Paleolithic populations into Arabia during the final humid phase of Marine Isotope Stage 5, when environmental conditions were still favorable".

    Back o you:

    "'coastal' does not mean strictly coastal for all clans at all times"

    For most people 'coastal' means 'coastal'.

    "'coastal' means: Not through Central Asia/Siberia (continental route) but across Tropical Asia, along the Indian Ocean (coastal route)".

    How can that mean 'coastal', especially as we have no evidence that the route was anywhere near the Indian Ocean.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Of course they'd be populated. But in comparison with other zones it's likely that they had low population.

    You see that in Europe, for instance, even after Neolithic: before the introduction of heavy ploughs in the Middle Ages and even later before Industrialization, it was all about France... just like in the Ice Age. That some marginal areas (once covered by ice) had opened and accepted some population does not mean that they automatically became the centers of demography. Actually not at all.

    These misconceptions are surely influenced by the many "migrations" (conquests) of nomadic peoples since Chalcolithic. These were never demic replacements of any sort and had at most a very limited genetic impact but they did have identitarian/linguistic impact because of the feudal hierarchies of the time, whose top ranks they monopolized.

    But in the Paleolithic that, a minority conquering a much larger majority, could not happen.

    ReplyDelete

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