The Unexpected Fauna of Pleistocene Saudi Arabia and the Earliest Evidence of Hominin Butchery Activity

Author(s): Mathew Stewart

Year: 2018


Work in the Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia, has been fundamental for establishing the importance of the Arabian Peninsula for Pleistocene hominin populations and their dispersals out of Africa. Recent palaeontological and archaeological exploration in the Western Nefud Desert has uncovered numerous fossiliferous palaeolake deposits and associated archaeology. Fossil assemblages include taxa with both African and Eurasian affinities and indicate a greater diversity in large mammals than resides in the region today. Furthermore, the presence of species such as Hippopotamus and Alcelaphus strongly support an ameliorated climate with expansive grasslands and large, perennial lakes. Favourable conditions likely permitted and promoted an influx of taxa, while subsequent climatic deterioration would have resulted in faunal retreat and/or extirpation. The presence of hominins in Arabia during the Pleistocene is evidenced by fossil remains, stone tools and anthropogenically modified bone, and their dispersal into Arabia was most likely tied to the establishment of favourable conditions and concomitant influx of large herbivores. This is perhaps best exemplified by the relatively diverse large mammal assemblage at Ti’s al Gadah (TAG) and the accompanying evidence for anthropogenically modified bone from various fossiliferous deposits, suggesting repeated hominin dispersal events into the Western Nefud Desert during the Pleistocene.

Cite this Record

The Unexpected Fauna of Pleistocene Saudi Arabia and the Earliest Evidence of Hominin Butchery Activity. Mathew Stewart. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443100)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: 34.277; min lat: 13.069 ; max long: 61.699; max lat: 42.94 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21787