Climate Change and Out of Africa Dispersals

Author(s): Michael Petraglia

Year: 2016


International, interdisciplinary fieldwork is at the core of Lawrence Straus' long-term archaeological research. Inspired by such an approach since my involvement with Straus' excavations at the Abri Dufaure in southwest France, I have been conducting field work in the Arabian peninsula, which aims to understand the relationship between climate change and human demography across the Pleistocene. Satellite images and GIS studies have effectively demonstrated that there were wet phases in this arid zone, with clear signs of rivers and lakes. Interdisciplinary fieldwork has established the presence of freshwater lakes, and the recovery of a range of fossils, including elephant and hippo, signals deep and permanent water bodies in areas that are now hyper-arid. Systematic surveys and excavations have identified a range of new archaeological sites, including Lower, Middle and Late Palaeolithic localities, together with Epi-Palaeolithic and Neolithic occurrences. The abundance of terrestrial archaeological sites of every period demonstrates that human expansions outside Africa were not confined to coastal zones, as is usually assumed. Our studies reveal an intimate link between wet and dry climatic phases and human expansions and contractions, which is of some importance in assessing Out of Africa dispersals, including the movement of Homo sapiens into Eurasia.

Cite this Record

Climate Change and Out of Africa Dispersals. Michael Petraglia. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403212)


Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;