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The Red Sea, Coastal Landscapes, and Hominin Dispersals

Bailey, G. (2009) The Red Sea, Coastal Landscapes, and Hominin Dispersals. In: Petraglia, M.D. and Rose, J.I., (eds.) The Evolution of Human Populations in Arabia. Vertebrate Palaeobiology and Palaeoanthropology . Springer , Dordrecht, Netherlands , pp. 15-37. ISBN 978-90-481-2718-4

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Abstract

This chapter provides a critical assessment of environment, landscape and resources in the Red Sea region over the past five million years in relation to archaeological evidence of hominin settlement, and of current hypotheses about the role of the region as a pathway or obstacle to population dispersals between Africa and Asia and the possible significance of coastal colonization. The discussion assesses the impact of factors such as topography and the distribution of resources on land and on the seacoast, taking account of geographical variation and changes in geology, sea levels and palaeoclimate. The merits of northern and southern routes of movement at either end of the Red Sea are compared. All the evidence indicates that there has been no land connection at the southern end since the beginning of the Pliocene period, but that short sea crossings would have been possible at lowest sea-level stands with little or no technical aids. More important than the possibilities of crossing the southern channel is the nature of the resources available in the adjacent coastal zones. There were many climatic episodes wetter than today, and during these periods water draining from the Arabian escarpment provided productive conditions for large mammals and human populations in coastal regions and eastwards into the desert. During drier episodes the coastal region would have provided important refugia both in upland areas and on the emerged shelves exposed by lowered sea level, especially in the southern sector and on both sides of the Red Sea. Marine resources may have offered an added advantage in coastal areas, but evidence for their exploitation is very limited, and their role has been over-exaggerated in hypotheses of coastal colonization.

Item Type: Book Section
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009. This is an author produced version of a book chapter published in 'The Evolution of Human Populations in Arabia'. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: Bab al Mandab, Coasts, Farasan Islands, Marine resources, Paleoenvironment, Paleoclimate, Red Sea
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Prof Geoff Bailey
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2010 11:30
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2014 05:39
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2719-1_2
Status: Published
Publisher: Springer
Refereed: No
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10261

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