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Bridges and Barriers: The Late Pleistocene Demography of the Saharo-Arabian Belt

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Chapter Summary

The Red Sea and the deserts on both sides of it are often seen as barriers to Pleistocene human dispersals. It is typically assumed that the Saharo-Arabian arid belt was too dry to be able to support populations of Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers. However, recent research across this region increasingly indicates that past environmental amelioration events transformed the desert into grasslands with extensive lake and river networks from at least 130 thousand years ago. Crucially, similar stone tool assemblages associated with these hydrological networks have now been found across the Saharo-Arabian belt, indicating that that Arabia played a key role in the human story. This paper reviews the evidence and argues that the Red Sea is more of a theoretical boundary to archaeologists that it was to the prehistoric people inhabiting the Saharo-Arabian belt.

10.1163/9789004330825_006
/content/books/b9789004330825_006
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