Dates were measured by B. Schwarz at McMaster University, Ontario. These dates, together with the fact that central Arabia was predominantly arid during global glacial periods, indicate that artefact deposition in the intermediary Layer E occurred at the beginning of the MIS 7 interglacial. During this time, riparian and lacustrine networks of the Arabian interior were activated following an eastward extension of the African Summer Monsoon system 15 , 22 , Our new excavations at Saffaqah resulted in the recovery of over lithic artefacts in stratified context.
These are described in detail in Shipton and colleagues These flakes were detached from large blocks of andesite with considerable force Fig. Marginally and ventrally retouched flakes, cleavers and discoidal cores were also present. Biface blanks were also produced through bifacial flaking of appropriate edges on large blocks of andesite. The artefact positioning and stratigraphic observations indicate that the lower, chronologically constrained Layer E represents an occupational surface with in situ knapping, while the upper layers represent successive occupations, with some minor colluvial deposition in Layers C-B likely dating to MIS 6.
Our results demonstrate an Acheulean presence in the Arabian Peninsula during MIS 7, and illustrate how hominins moved into marginal areas with the onset of environmental amelioration.
Saffaqah also documents the youngest yet known Acheulean in Southwest Asia Technological similarities between Saffaqah and other undated Acheulean sites strongly suggest this dispersal may have been widespread in Arabia. For example, minimally flaked handaxes with large flake blanks and cleavers have been documented in both Wadi Fatima, and the Jubbah area Fig. The Acheulean technology from Saffaqah can be contrasted to Acheulean surface assemblages found in the southwestern Nefud Desert 9.
Although undated, these assemblages document very different technological characteristics within an Acheulean tradition. This constellation of technological features is similar to the Late Acheulean in the Levant In contrast, the large flakes and cleavers of Saffaqah differ from the pene-contemporaneous Acheuleo-Yabrudian technocomplex of the Levant 10 and are instead features more typical of the African Acheulean 32 , Late Acheulean sites such as Mieso Ethiopia are of a similar age to Saffaqah as well as manifesting large flakes and cleavers 34 , 35 , although it lacks the fine marginal trimming on its bifaces seen at Mieso.
It therefore seems possible that Saffaqah reflects a hominin dispersal from the Horn of Africa following the northeastward migration of the African Summer Monsoon during MIS 7 34 , The similarities in the lithic typologies at Saffaqah across all layers spanning MIS 7 and very probably MIS 6 in the case of layers C-B, are also indicative of cultural continuity at least within the general area of the site. The results presented here therefore both extend the known spatial and temporal distribution of Acheulean hominins and document variation in behaviour across an expanded range and timeframe.
While the age of the Acheulean sites in other parts of Arabia is not yet confirmed, the techno-typological and chronological similarities between the later Acheulean in Africa and Saffaqah indicate that several waves of dispersal may have structured the Acheulean record of Eurasia Finally, because Saffaqah also represents the youngest yet documented Acheulean in southwest Asia, further insights are provided into the persistence of the last Acheulean hominins, the youngest of which have been documented in India in MIS 6 At Saffaqah, this Acheulean presence was late enough to overlap with an emerging Middle Palaeolithic, both in the Peninsula as well as in surrounding regions, adding to the spatial diversity of Middle Pleistocene hominin behaviour 22 , and reflecting the complexity and breadth of biogeographical exchange across the Eurasian gateway.
The broader regional evidence, including the presence of Homo sapiens in association with early Middle Palaeolithic tool assemblages at Misliya Cave in the Levant during this time 38 , provides strong indications that Saffaqah formed part of the terminal archaic landscape first encountered by our species as they dispersed out of Africa.
Sediment samples for luminescence dating were collected from the freshly opened section by inserting opaque metal tubes. After the sample tubes were opened, the light-exposed ends were removed for dose rate determination and the interior, light shielded sediment was retained for luminescence dating.
Gamma dose rates were measured on site for both samples with an Inspector gamma-ray spectrometer fitted with a 2. The cosmic-ray dose rates were estimated from the equations provided by Prescott and Hutton 42 taking into account the burial depth of the samples, the sediment density and the location of the site altitude, latitude. Assuming that each grain comprises Measurements were performed on a Lexsyg Smart luminescence reader manufactured by Freiberg Instruments 48 and fitted with a calibrated beta source delivering 0.
Equivalent doses were calculated from each aliquot using the Analyst v. Based on previous results from samples collected in the Nefud Desert and discussions in Thiel et al. All twenty measured aliquots had measurable signals and good SAR characteristics; no aliquots were excluded after application of the rejection criteria and none were found to be in saturation.
The IR-RF signal of K-feldspar is believed to provide a promising alternative to more established luminescence dating approaches. The technique was introduced by Trautmann et al. All bleaching and measurement settings followed the suggestions made by Frouin et al. All measured aliquots were accepted for analysis; the rejection criteria applied for the pIRIRare discussed in the text. Little information is available concerning the methodology of this study, as it was published as a work in progress.
Therefore, the large age difference obtained for subsamples from the same tool is not explicable at the moment, but may be due to varying pre-treatments upon contaminated caliche rinds Because of this, and due to the nature of the samples post-depositional carbonate concretion , these ages must certainly be considered as minimum estimates. It is also important to note that, although these values indicate that there is post-depositional enrichment of the uranium component in the sediment, the proportion of the dose rate contributed by the uranium series in this environment is quite low.
Therefore, any decay chain disequilibrium is expected to have a negligible effect on the calculated ages. S and M. We thank Ian R. All authors contributed towards the writing of the paper. The research was conceived by M. Excavations at Saffaqah were conducted by C. Artefact spatial data was processed and explored by J.
Chronometric dating was conducted by L. Eleanor M. Scerri, Email: ed. Michael D. Petraglia, Email: ed. Supplementary information accompanies this paper at National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Sci Rep. Published online Nov Groucutt , 1, 2 Paul S. Alsharekh , 12 and Michael D. Petraglia 1. Huw S. Paul S. Nick A. Abdullah M. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer.
Corresponding author. Received Jul 27; Accepted Oct Abstract The Acheulean is the longest lasting cultural—technological tradition in human evolutionary history. Open in a separate window. Figure 1. Results The Dawadmi region of central Saudi Arabia is characterized by a flat plain of Proterozoic igneous bedrock intruded by younger felsic and mafic dykes, and overlain in places by Quaternary aeolian and fluvial sediments.
Figure 2. Figure 3.
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Figure 4. Figure 5. Table 1 Radioelement contents and dose rates from Saffaqah sediment samples. Values in italic are for the RF 70 measurements. Discussion Our results demonstrate an Acheulean presence in the Arabian Peninsula during MIS 7, and illustrate how hominins moved into marginal areas with the onset of environmental amelioration. Methods Sediment samples for luminescence dating were collected from the freshly opened section by inserting opaque metal tubes.
Electronic supplementary material Supplementary Information K, pdf. Author Contributions All authors contributed towards the writing of the paper. Data Availability Luminescence data generated during the current study are available from M. Notes Competing Interests The authors declare no competing interests.
Contributor Information Eleanor M. Electronic supplementary material Supplementary information accompanies this paper at References 1. Schick, K.
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In Multiple approaches to the study of bifacial technologies eds Soressi, M. Dennell, R. Lepre CJ, et al. An Earlier Origin for the Acheulean. Beyene Y, et al. The characteristics and chronology of the earliest Acheulean at Konso, Ethiopia. Cognitive Demands of Lower Paleolithic Toolmaking. PloS One. From Africa to Eurasia — early dispersals. Petraglia MD. The Lower Paleolithic of the Arabian Peninsula: occupations, adaptations, and dispersals.
Scerri EML, et al. Shipton C, et al. Acheulean technology and landscape use at Dawadmi, central Arabia. Jennings RP, et al. The greening of Arabia: Multiple opportunities for human occupation of the Arabian Peninsula during the Late Pleistocene inferred from an ensemble of climate model simulations.
Parton A, et al. Alluvial fan records from southeast Arabia reveal multiple windows for human dispersal. Fleitmann D, et al. Holocene and Pleistocene pluvial periods in Yemen, southern Arabia. Multi-scale Acheulean landscape survey in the Arabian Desert. Voice of Winston Churchill played by Robert Hardy. Louis Blues March W. Wiffin: Blue Devils Charles Williams. Hingley: The Jolly Airman P. Flying Review A. Roberts, PM B.
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