Nick Leech talks to archaeologists digging in Sharjah, Oman and Saudi Arabia about their latest finds and the debate about Arabia’s role in the early history of humanity.
In March 2015, archaeologists made a discovery in Sharjah that not only promises to shed new light on the role of Arabia in prehistory but also has the potential to rewrite the history of humankind.
The discovery was a prehistoric tool factory composed of more than a thousand stone fragments including four hand axes, scrapers that would have been used for the cleaning and preparation of animal skins and lithic preforms, rough, incomplete and unused stones still awaiting the final trimming and refinement that would have transformed them into tools.
“They may be 200,000 or even 500,000 years old, we don’t know yet, but they certainly push back the earliest evidence for human occupation in south-east Arabia,” says Knut Bretzke from Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, Germany, the leader of the team responsible for the find made in Suhailah, north of the oasis town of Dhaid.
Like an increasing number of archaeological finds discovered across Arabia in the last decade, Bretzke’s “lithic assemblage” poses a challenge to the standard ‘out of Africa’ model of early human dispersal that has dominated the scientific consensus since the late 1990s…
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