|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].
Michael D. Petraglia et. al., Middle Paleolithic occupation on a Marine Isotope Stage 5 lakeshore in the Nefud Desert Saudi Arabia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 2011. Pay per view.
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.