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Sci Rep. 2018 Nov 29;8(1):17165. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35242-5.

The expansion of later Acheulean hominins into the Arabian Peninsula.

Author information

1
Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany. scerri@shh.mpg.de.
2
Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, 36 Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2PG, UK. scerri@shh.mpg.de.
3
Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
4
British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya.
5
Department of Geosciences, Freiburg, Germany.
6
Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, 36 Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2PG, UK.
7
Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.
8
Department of Geography, Kings College London, London, UK.
9
Human Origins and Palaeoenvironments Research Group, Department of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane, Oxford, OX3 0BP, UK.
10
Mansfield College, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3TF, UK.
11
Department of Geography Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX, UK.
12
School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, James Parsons Building, Byrom Street, Liverpool, L3 3AF, UK.
13
Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
14
Department of Archaeology, College of Archaeology and Tourism, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
15
Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany. petraglia@shh.mpg.de.

Abstract

The Acheulean is the longest lasting cultural-technological tradition in human evolutionary history. However, considerable gaps remain in understanding the chronology and geographical distribution of Acheulean hominins. We present the first chronometrically dated Acheulean site from the Arabian Peninsula, a vast and poorly known region that forms more than half of Southwest Asia. Results show that Acheulean hominin occupation expanded along hydrological networks into the heart of Arabia from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 7 until at least ~190 ka ̶ the youngest documented Acheulean in Southwest Asia. The site of Saffaqah features Acheulean technology, characterized by large flakes, handaxes and cleavers, similar to Acheulean assemblages in Africa. These findings reveal a climatically-mediated later Acheulean expansion into a poorly known region, amplifying the documented diversity of Middle Pleistocene hominin behaviour across the Old World and elaborating the terminal archaic landscape encountered by our species as they dispersed out of Africa.

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