International and Saudi researchers have discovered archaeological sites in the Nefud Desert of Saudi Arabia associated with the remains of ancient lakes formed when periods of increased rainfall transformed the region into grassland.
International and Saudi researchers have discovered archaeological sites in the Nefud Desert of Saudi Arabia associated with the remains of ancient lakes formed when periods of increased rainfall transformed the region into grassland. The researchers found that early humans spread into the region during each ‘Green Arabia’ phase, each bringing a different kind of material culture. The new research establishes northern Arabia as a crucial migration route and a crossroads for early humans.
Recent research in Arabia – a collaboration between scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, the Heritage Commission of the Saudi Ministry of Culture, and many other Saudi and international researchers – has begun to document the incredibly rich prehistory of Saudi Arabia, the largest country in Southwest Asia. Previous research in the region has focused on the coastal and woodland margins, while human prehistory in the vast interior areas remained poorly understood.
The new findings, including the oldest dated evidence for humans in Arabia at 400,000 years ago, are described as a “breakthrough in Arabian archaeology” by Dr Huw Groucutt, lead author of the study and head of the ‘Extreme Events’ Max Planck Society Research Group in Jena, Germany, based at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology.
Image: The site of Khall Amayshan 4 in northern Saudi Arabia, where evidence of repeated visits by early humans over the last 400,000 years was found, associated with the remains of ancient lakes (Credit: Palaeodeserts Project (photo by Michael Petraglia))