Southwest Asia connects Eurasia and Africa, and is therefore an important area in human evolutionary studies, such as for understanding the movements of hominin populations between regions. Southwest Asia also saw dramatic palaeoenvironmental shifts, which impacted human societies, but which also provides a window into changing human behaviour in response to such changes over time. Pleistocene environmental, cultural, and biological records are sparse in most of Southwest Asia. In a recent paper we reported a series of dated palaeolakes in Saudi Arabia, associated with recurrent hominin occupations, over the past 400,000 years. This finding fills a crucial gap in knowledge on the region, and allows distinct local records from different parts of Southwest Asia to be connected together. Each pulse of occupation is associated with a distinct form of material culture, suggesting a lack of occupational continuity. These results emphasise the climatic context of early prehistoric migrations, and highlight the need for spatial and temporally representative samples to underlie human evolutionary narratives.
Speaker: Dr Huw Groucutt
In affiliation with Extreme Events Research Group, Max Planck Society, Jena, Germany.
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