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Stone Tools in Arabia
Stone Tools in Arabia: new lithic evidence may indicate multiple dispersals of modern humans into the Arabian Peninsula from Africa.
Image: Jeffrey Rose
An online article in Archaeology - Stone Tools Suggest Modern Humans Lingered in Arabia - reveals the recent study of stone tools from Arabia, northeastern Africa, and the Middle East.
Researchers Jeffrey Rose of the Ronin Institute and Anthony Marks of Southern Methodist University began with the stone tools from the Nile Valley some 150,000 to 130,000 years ago. These tools are characterized by the knapping of the edges of a stone core in a systematic way to produce the single, triangular point characteristic of Nubian tools.
It had been thought that the modern human makers of these tools moved rapidly to the Levant, where they invented the points, blades, and scrapers known as Emiran tools, first discovered in a cave near the Sea of Galilee in 1951.
The Emiran lithic technology is known as a 'bridge', but little is known of the origin of these tool-makers. Rose and Marks are now proposing that some of the early Nile tool-makers first traveled to Arabia, where their descendants spent tens of thousands of years and developed two new toolkits, whose stone points grew smaller and more elongated over time.
After climate changed pushed them into the Levant, these modern-human tool makers learned to strike many blades from a single core. The style of their tools may even have been influenced by local toolmakers, possibly Neanderthals.
Their research highlights the need to find further evidence of the human expansion in Arabia. Last year a team of researchers led by Eleanor Scerri of the University of Bordeaux compared stone artifacts unearthed from three sites in the Arabian Desert with artifacts discovered in northeast Africa near the skeletons of modern humans. All of the tools were between 70,000 and 125,000 years old. Artefacts from two of the three Arabian sites were extremely similar to the tools from northeast Africa, suggesting that the groups may have had some interaction, and that the Arabian tools could have been made by modern humans. It seems likely that there were multiple dispersals into the Arabian Peninsula from Africa, some possibly very early in the history of Homo sapiens.
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