Modern humans reached Arabia earlier than previously believed

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Washington, Jan 28 (ANI): An international team of researchers 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 team, led by Hans-Peter Uerpmann from Eberhard Karls University in Tubingen, Germany, revealed that artifacts unearthed in the United Arab Emirates date back 100,000 years and imply that modern humans first left Africa much earlier than thought.

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.

The team 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, according to authors.

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.

Lead author Simon 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.

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.

The findings will appear in the 28 January issue of Science, which is published by AAAS. (ANI)

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