Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Modern humans reached Arabia earlier than thought, new artifacts suggest

Date:
January 27, 2011
Source:
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Summary:
Artifacts unearthed in the United Arab Emirates date back 100,000 years and imply that modern humans first left Africa much earlier than researchers had expected, a new study reports. The timing and dispersal of modern humans out of Africa has been the source of long-standing debate, though most evidence has pointed to an exodus along the Mediterranean Sea or along the Arabian coast approximately 60,000 years ago.

Jebel Faya rockshelter from above, looking north, shows eboulis blocks from roof collapse and the location of excavation trenches.
Credit: Copyright Science/AAAS

Artifacts unearthed in the United Arab Emirates date back 100,000 years and imply that modern humans first left Africa much earlier than researchers had expected, a new study reports. In light of their excavation, an international team of researchers led by Hans-Peter Uerpmann from Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, Germany suggests that humans could have arrived on the Arabian Peninsula as early as 125,000 years ago -- directly from Africa rather than via the Nile Valley or the Near East, as researchers have suggested in the past.

The timing and dispersal of modern humans out of Africa has been the source of long-standing debate, though most evidence has pointed to an exodus along the Mediterranean Sea or along the Arabian coast approximately 60,000 years ago.

This new research, placing early humans on the Arabian Peninsula much earlier, will appear in the 28 January issue of Science.

The team of researchers, including lead author Simon Armitage from Royal Holloway, University of London, discovered an ancient human toolkit at the Jebel Faya archaeological site in the United Arab Emirates. It resembles technology used by early humans in east Africa but not the craftsmanship that emerged from the Middle East, they say. This toolkit includes relatively primitive hand-axes along with a variety of scrapers and perforators, and its contents imply that technological innovation was not necessary for early humans to migrate onto the Arabian Peninsula. Armitage calculated the age of the stone tools using a technique known as luminescence dating and determined that the artifacts were about 100,000 to 125,000 years old.

"These 'anatomically modern' humans -- like you and me -- had evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago and subsequently populated the rest of the world," said Armitage. "Our findings should stimulate a re-evaluation of the means by which we modern humans became a global species."

Uerpmann and his team also analyzed sea-level and climate-change records for the region during the last interglacial period, approximately 130,000 years ago. They determined that the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which separates Arabia from the Horn of Africa, would have narrowed due to lower sea-levels, allowing safe passage prior to and at the beginning of that last interglacial period. At that time, the Arabian Peninsula was much wetter than today with greater vegetation cover and a network of lakes and rivers. Such a landscape would have allowed early humans access into Arabia and then into the Fertile Crescent and India, according to the researchers.

"Archaeology without ages is like a jigsaw with the interlocking edges removed -- you have lots of individual pieces of information but you can't fit them together to produce the big picture," said Armitage. "At Jebel Faya, the ages reveal a fascinating picture in which modern humans migrated out of Africa much earlier than previously thought, helped by global fluctuations in sea-level and climate change in the Arabian Peninsula."

This report by Armitage et al. was funded by the Government of Sharjah, the ROCEEH project (Heidelberg Academy of Sciences), Humboldt Foundation, Oxford Brookes University and the German Science Foundation (DFG).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Association for the Advancement of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Simon J. Armitage, Sabah A. Jasim, Anthony E. Marks, Adrian G. Parker, Vitaly I. Usik, and Hans-Peter Uerpmann. The Southern Route “Out of Africa”: Evidence for an Early Expansion of Modern Humans into Arabia. Science, 28 January 2011: 453-456. DOI: 10.1126/science.1199113

Cite This Page:

American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Modern humans reached Arabia earlier than thought, new artifacts suggest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110127141651.htm>.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2011, January 27). Modern humans reached Arabia earlier than thought, new artifacts suggest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110127141651.htm
American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Modern humans reached Arabia earlier than thought, new artifacts suggest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110127141651.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Did Neanderthals Play Tic-Tac-Toe?

Did Neanderthals Play Tic-Tac-Toe?

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — Artwork found in a Gibraltar cave that was possibly done by Neanderthals suggests they may have been smarter than we all thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Millions Of Historical Public Domain Photos Added To Flickr

Millions Of Historical Public Domain Photos Added To Flickr

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Historian Kalev Leetaru uploaded a large collection of historical photos, images that were previously difficult to collect. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins