The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Documenting the first steps out of Africa: New findings from Arabia


School of Archaeology, University of Oxford

March 27, 2015 8:30, Grand Ballroom D Add to calendar

The Arabian peninsula is in a central geographic location between Africa and the rest of Eurasia. Despite its central location, relatively little palaeoanthropological research has been conducted until recently. Here we examine and report on new interdisciplinary archaeological findings from the Arabian peninsula. The aim is to address the relationship between climate change and hominin occupation history over the long term. Satellite imagery, climate simulation studies and environmental research indicate alternate wetting and drying of Arabia over the long term. Field studies have identified large numbers of Acheulean sites, localities distributed over landscapes measuring more than 100 km. Middle Palaeolithic sites, dated to between MIS 9 to 3, are associated with riverine and lacustrine settings. Quantitative analysis of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic industries demonstrates significant regional diversity, indicative of temporal change. Site density data and temporal gaps in the record suggest short term occupation intervals and regional abandonments, likely owing to the effects of climate change. Implications for the effects of climate change on the survival and movement of archaic and modern humans are discussed.

Funded by the European Research Council