Out of Africa … and cooking pots

2 December 2011
Archaeology

The Out of Africa theory dominates anthropology and archaeologists and others are forever looking for evidence in support. At www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-11/plos-o112811.php we learn that evidence of humans migrating out of Africa has recently been found in South Arabia at a timescale commisserate with consensus ideas. In the Dhofur Mountains of Oman they have found what is described as stone bread crumbs, tools or flakes, of a Middle Stone Age culture that is also known from the Nile Valley. Dates produced from Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) place the people and the tools at over 100,000 years ago, a bit earlier than expected. Even more upsetting is the fact all the sites were found far inland – nowhere near the coast, the preferred route of migration. This timescale of course corresponds to a period when Arabia was green and pleasant and is really research in what is just a small corner of the peninsular. Archaeology is forbidden in Saudi Arabia and ill advised in Aden and Yemen. The stone breadcrumbs indicate people spread along rivers which raises a query – how wide and deep was the Red Sea 100,000 years ago?

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111024153407.htm a short and tantalising news flash of another article in the latest PNAS issue. Ancient cooking residues from 133 ceramic vessels from the western Baltic zone have shown that there was a gradual transition in the region from fishing and hunting to agriculture. 

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