The Lower Paleolithic of the Arabian Peninsula

The Lower Paleolithic of the Arabian Peninsula: Occupations, Adaptations, and Dispersals

Michael D. Petraglia
Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3DZ, England; m.petraglia@human-evol.cam.ac.uk

Abstract

To understand major processes of human evolution during the Plio- Pleistocene, it is necessary to consider the available evidence from key regions of the Old World. The Arabian peninsula is often depicted as a key geographic route for hominin dispersals in “Out of Africa" models, although the available primary evidence is rarely cited. And yet, significant Lower Paleolithic assemblages have been identified in many parts of the peninsula, including in areas near the Strait of Bab al Mandab. The presence of Oldowan-like and Acheulean assemblages may reflect at least two major dispersals outside of Africa. Acheulean localities are particularly abundant on the Arabian peninsula, and variations in stone tool manufacturing techniques and tool-type frequencies may reflect temporal changes in assemblages. Although there is good potential to chronometrically date sites in the Arabian peninsula, absolute dating methods have not been adequately applied, most temporal reconstructions relying on typotechnological change. If the Arabian peninsula is to provide solid evidence for understanding hominin adaptation and dispersal patterns, future fieldwork in secure depositional contexts needs to be conducted to overcome current limits in dating and environmental reconstructions.

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