النشر العلمي

Reconstructing ancient rivers and lakes in Arabia

Freshwater availability is critical for human survival, and its availability in the Arabian Peninsula in the past was likely to have been a primary control upon routes and opportunities for the movement and dispersal of early humans.

Results of palaeohydrological analyses focussed upon the southern Nefud region, showing mapped drainage (questionable drainage in dunes marked in grey), and modelled palaeolake extents

Results of palaeohydrological analyses focussed upon the southern Nefud region, showing mapped drainage (questionable drainage in dunes marked in grey), and modelled palaeolake extents

With this in mind, Palaeodeserts team member Paul Breeze developed new palaeohydrological methods during his doctoral research. Remote sensing and GIS techniques were used to map palaeochannels (ancient water channels) across the whole of the Arabian Peninsula, and palaeolakes and marshes for select regions covering approximately 10% of its surface area.

 

Field survey by the Palaeodeserts team in the Nefud desert and the Dawadmi and Shuwaymis regions of Saudi Arabia has indicated accuracies of 86% for the palaeodrainage mapping, and of 96% for the method for identifying former palaeolake basins. These data are now being used by the project for targeted field survey, as the new palaeolake mapping method has also demonstrated potential for identifying surface and stratified archaeological site locations, with 76% of the surveyed palaeolake basins containing archaeological material, including stratified Palaeolithic archaeology.

Acheulean landscapes in the Arabian Peninsula

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Surveying one of the many dykes in the Dawadmi region. The dykes consists of magma intrusions that have cooled and hardened into rock, typically andesite. The fine-grained nature of these rocks made them a target for Acheulean hominins – the slopes of these dykes contain lithic debris from biface manufacture

Our systematic survey of Acheulean occupation evidence at Dawadmi, in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, has led to the discovery of 14 new Acheulean sites at Saffaqah, and a further 22 sites in the Dawadmi area.

Our survey revealed a strong correlation between Acheulean sites and fine-grained andesite dykes, a major source of raw material for stone tools; no Acheulean sites in the study area were found away from dykes or their adjacent landscape units. Based on dyke distributions, the geographic range of Acheulean activity is estimated to be 100km × 55km, making Dawadmi one of the largest Acheulean landscapes in the world.

Read more in Multi-scale Acheulean landscape survey in the Arabian Desert in Quaternary International.

 

Rock art sheds new light on the Neolithic transition in Arabia

rock art - news 2

Photograph and tracing of rock art panel at Shuwaymis. White lines show the original hunting scene; blue lines show a later herding scene which includes the re-engraved shapes of a hunter and three dogs

Our study of the engraved rock art recorded on 254 panels in Shuwaymis, Ha’il Province, has shed more light on the Neolithic transition from hunting and gathering to economies utilising domesticated livestock in this part of the Arabian Peninsula.

In particular, the re-use of hunting panels to create herding scenes, the re-engraving of hunting figures into herders, and the re-carving of hunting dogs into pastoral scenes all suggest that the engravers of herding panels still identified with the depicted hunters.

Read more in Hunters and herders: Exploring the Neolithic transition in the rock art of Shuwaymis, Saudi Arabia.

 

Human occupation of the Arabian Empty Quarter more than 80,000 years ago

MDF - lithic

Dr Ceri Shipton with stone tool excavated from Mundafan

mdf lithic

Two stone tools excavated from Mundafan

Recent excavations by the Palaeodeserts team in the Arabian Empty Quarter, the largest sandy desert in the world, have provided the first evidence of human occupation going back more than 80,000 years. Using a range of luminescence dating techniques, the Middle Palaeolithic artefacts recovered from the stratified sediments at the site of Mundafan Al-Buhayrah, have been dated to between 100,000 and 80,000 years old.

The discovery of securely-dated archaeological material in the Empty Quarter, including stone tools, has important implications for hypotheses concerning the timing and routes of the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa into Eurasia.

Read more in Human occupation of the Arabian Empty Quarter during MIS 5: evidence from Mundafan Al-Buhayrah, Saudi Arabia.

بيئات الفن الصخري في منطقة بحيرة جبة القديمة، السعودية, Saudi Arabia

Antiquity front page tn 12013 Jennings, R.P., Shipton. C., Al‑Omari, A., Alsharekh, A.M., Crassard, R., Groucutt, H., Petraglia, M.D., Rock art landscapes beside the Jubbah palaeolake, Saudi Arabia. Antiquity 87(337): 666–683

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أول دليل على انتشار جماعات العصر الحجري الحديث قبل الفخار في صحراء النفود

plosTree tn 12013 Crassard, R., Petraglia, M.D., Parker, A.G., Parton, A., Roberts, R.G., Jacobs, Z., Alsharekh, A., Al-Omari, A., Breeze, P., Drake, N.A., Groucutt, H.S., Jennings, R., Shipton, C., Beyond the Levant: first evidence of a Pre-Pottery Neolithic incursion into the Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia. PLoS ONE8(7): 68061. Link

Middle Palaeolithic occupation in the Thar Desert during the Upper Pleistocene

Quaternary2013 Blinkhorn, J., Achyuthan, H., Petraglia, M., Ditchfield, P., Middle Palaeolithic occupation in the Thar Desert during the Upper Pleistocene: the signature of a modern human exit out of Africa?Quaternary Science Reviews, in press

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Human dispersal across diverse environments of Asia during the Upper Pleistocene

1-s2.0-S1040618213X00151-cov150h2013 Boivin, N., Fuller, D.Q., Dennell, R., Allaby, R., Petraglia, M.D., Human dispersal across diverse environments of Asia during the Upper Pleistocene. Quaternary International, in press.

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