Lost World

10 Dec 2010

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101208151609.htm ... a paper in Current Anthropology speculates that the Persian Gulf was an oasis during the last Ice Age - and even in the early Holocene. It was not until around 6000BC that the floor of the Gulf was flooded - and it was dry land during the last Ice Age too. The actual Indian Ocean coastline during the Pleistocene may also have differed - but this is not mentioned. Suffice to say, Arabia was joined to Iran. At the same time it is assumed that during the Ice Age the Middle East and Iran were arid. The Gulf, being at a lower elevation, may have been an oasis of green - is the thinking behind this paper. As far as the early Holocene is concerned, the Sahara and Arabia, as well as Iran, were green and fertile. After 6000BC there is evidence of new settlements along what become the shore of the Gulf and it is thought rising sea levels had forced people to move out of the oasis to a higher elevation - or population had increased so that new land was exploited. Note, another assumption basic to this theory, and that is that sea level in the Gulf rose gradually - not in a dramatic fashion around 6000BC when global climate regimes appear to have altered. What the anthropologists seek to do is find somewhere to locate early human groups, archaic or otherwise, as stone tools have recently been discovered in Yemen and Oman and seem to go back as far as 100,000 years ago. The implication being made is that there was a southern route of expansion Out of Africa, bypassing the Middle East and its Neanderthal population. As always, in anthropology there is a good deal of guesswork - simply because they are dealing with limited evidence. In this instance that is solely a stone tool assemblage discovered in southern Arabia.