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Middle palaeolithic and neolithic occupations around Mundafan Palaeolake, Saudi Arabia: implications for climate change and human dispersals.

Crassard R, Petraglia MD, Drake NA, Breeze P, Gratuze B, Alsharekh A, Arbach M, Groucutt HS, Khalidi L, Michelsen N, Robin CJ, Schiettecatte J - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: The sites probably represent short-term occupations, with the Neolithic sites focused on hunting, as indicated by points and weaponry.Middle Palaeolithic assemblages at Mundafan support a lacustrine adaptive focus in Arabia.Provenancing of obsidian artifacts indicates that Neolithic groups at Mundafan had a wide wandering range, with transport of artifacts from distant sources.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: CNRS, UMR 5133 'Archéorient', Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, Lyon, France. remy.crassard@mom.fr

ABSTRACT
The Arabian Peninsula is a key region for understanding climate change and human occupation history in a marginal environment. The Mundafan palaeolake is situated in southern Saudi Arabia, in the Rub' al-Khali (the 'Empty Quarter'), the world's largest sand desert. Here we report the first discoveries of Middle Palaeolithic and Neolithic archaeological sites in association with the palaeolake. We associate the human occupations with new geochronological data, and suggest the archaeological sites date to the wet periods of Marine Isotope Stage 5 and the Early Holocene. The archaeological sites indicate that humans repeatedly penetrated the ameliorated environments of the Rub' al-Khali. The sites probably represent short-term occupations, with the Neolithic sites focused on hunting, as indicated by points and weaponry. Middle Palaeolithic assemblages at Mundafan support a lacustrine adaptive focus in Arabia. Provenancing of obsidian artifacts indicates that Neolithic groups at Mundafan had a wide wandering range, with transport of artifacts from distant sources.

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Palaeodrainage networks of Arabia.Key wadis are named, lakes discussed in the text located and labelled, and international borders area displayed by dashed lines. Drainage network data modeled through flow analyses (light blue) is superimposed upon SRTM V.4 elevation data [48], overlain upon Natural Earth 2 data for the oceanic regions. Interpreted channel connections potentially active during recent wet phases are marked in white. The red box outlines the region shown in figure 4. Major wadis are numbered: 1- Wadi as Sirhan, 2-Wadi al Hamd, 3- Euphrates and associated Widyan, 4-Wadi al Batin, 5-Wadi Sahba, 6- Wadi ad Dawasir, 7- Wadi Hadramawt.
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pone-0069665-g001: Palaeodrainage networks of Arabia.Key wadis are named, lakes discussed in the text located and labelled, and international borders area displayed by dashed lines. Drainage network data modeled through flow analyses (light blue) is superimposed upon SRTM V.4 elevation data [48], overlain upon Natural Earth 2 data for the oceanic regions. Interpreted channel connections potentially active during recent wet phases are marked in white. The red box outlines the region shown in figure 4. Major wadis are numbered: 1- Wadi as Sirhan, 2-Wadi al Hamd, 3- Euphrates and associated Widyan, 4-Wadi al Batin, 5-Wadi Sahba, 6- Wadi ad Dawasir, 7- Wadi Hadramawt.

Mentions: Palaeoenvironmental studies of cave speleothems (e.g., [15], [16]) and palaeolakes (e.g. [17], [18], [19], [20], [21], [22], [23]) have provided insights about changing environments through time. Archaeological sites have been found associated with palaeolake shores, frequently identified on the basis of characteristic stone tool industries. The presence of the lakes in wet periods, together with the activation of major river systems [20], [24], [25], have been linked to hominin expansions [21], [22], [26], [27]. Both Late Pleistocene and Holocene relict lakes have been investigated in Mundafan and Khujaymah, Saudi Arabia [23], Mudawwara, southern Jordan [28], Jubbah, Saudi Arabia [21], [22], [29], [30], al-Hawa and Rada’, Yemen [18], [19], Safer-Balhaf, Yemen [31], Bayt Nahmi, Yemen [32], Saiwan, Oman [33], and Awafi, UAE [34], [35]. The majority of these studies have been dedicated to documenting environmental change, and less focus has been placed on investigating the relationships between the palaeolakes and human occupations. Figure 1 displays these lake locations, in addition to modeled palaeodrainage courses (see methods section).


Middle palaeolithic and neolithic occupations around Mundafan Palaeolake, Saudi Arabia: implications for climate change and human dispersals.

Crassard R, Petraglia MD, Drake NA, Breeze P, Gratuze B, Alsharekh A, Arbach M, Groucutt HS, Khalidi L, Michelsen N, Robin CJ, Schiettecatte J - PLoS ONE (2013)

Palaeodrainage networks of Arabia.Key wadis are named, lakes discussed in the text located and labelled, and international borders area displayed by dashed lines. Drainage network data modeled through flow analyses (light blue) is superimposed upon SRTM V.4 elevation data [48], overlain upon Natural Earth 2 data for the oceanic regions. Interpreted channel connections potentially active during recent wet phases are marked in white. The red box outlines the region shown in figure 4. Major wadis are numbered: 1- Wadi as Sirhan, 2-Wadi al Hamd, 3- Euphrates and associated Widyan, 4-Wadi al Batin, 5-Wadi Sahba, 6- Wadi ad Dawasir, 7- Wadi Hadramawt.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3722113&req=5

pone-0069665-g001: Palaeodrainage networks of Arabia.Key wadis are named, lakes discussed in the text located and labelled, and international borders area displayed by dashed lines. Drainage network data modeled through flow analyses (light blue) is superimposed upon SRTM V.4 elevation data [48], overlain upon Natural Earth 2 data for the oceanic regions. Interpreted channel connections potentially active during recent wet phases are marked in white. The red box outlines the region shown in figure 4. Major wadis are numbered: 1- Wadi as Sirhan, 2-Wadi al Hamd, 3- Euphrates and associated Widyan, 4-Wadi al Batin, 5-Wadi Sahba, 6- Wadi ad Dawasir, 7- Wadi Hadramawt.
Mentions: Palaeoenvironmental studies of cave speleothems (e.g., [15], [16]) and palaeolakes (e.g. [17], [18], [19], [20], [21], [22], [23]) have provided insights about changing environments through time. Archaeological sites have been found associated with palaeolake shores, frequently identified on the basis of characteristic stone tool industries. The presence of the lakes in wet periods, together with the activation of major river systems [20], [24], [25], have been linked to hominin expansions [21], [22], [26], [27]. Both Late Pleistocene and Holocene relict lakes have been investigated in Mundafan and Khujaymah, Saudi Arabia [23], Mudawwara, southern Jordan [28], Jubbah, Saudi Arabia [21], [22], [29], [30], al-Hawa and Rada’, Yemen [18], [19], Safer-Balhaf, Yemen [31], Bayt Nahmi, Yemen [32], Saiwan, Oman [33], and Awafi, UAE [34], [35]. The majority of these studies have been dedicated to documenting environmental change, and less focus has been placed on investigating the relationships between the palaeolakes and human occupations. Figure 1 displays these lake locations, in addition to modeled palaeodrainage courses (see methods section).

Bottom Line: The sites probably represent short-term occupations, with the Neolithic sites focused on hunting, as indicated by points and weaponry.Middle Palaeolithic assemblages at Mundafan support a lacustrine adaptive focus in Arabia.Provenancing of obsidian artifacts indicates that Neolithic groups at Mundafan had a wide wandering range, with transport of artifacts from distant sources.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: CNRS, UMR 5133 'Archéorient', Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, Lyon, France. remy.crassard@mom.fr

ABSTRACT
The Arabian Peninsula is a key region for understanding climate change and human occupation history in a marginal environment. The Mundafan palaeolake is situated in southern Saudi Arabia, in the Rub' al-Khali (the 'Empty Quarter'), the world's largest sand desert. Here we report the first discoveries of Middle Palaeolithic and Neolithic archaeological sites in association with the palaeolake. We associate the human occupations with new geochronological data, and suggest the archaeological sites date to the wet periods of Marine Isotope Stage 5 and the Early Holocene. The archaeological sites indicate that humans repeatedly penetrated the ameliorated environments of the Rub' al-Khali. The sites probably represent short-term occupations, with the Neolithic sites focused on hunting, as indicated by points and weaponry. Middle Palaeolithic assemblages at Mundafan support a lacustrine adaptive focus in Arabia. Provenancing of obsidian artifacts indicates that Neolithic groups at Mundafan had a wide wandering range, with transport of artifacts from distant sources.

Show MeSH