May 22, 2011

More on Out of North Africa

I already covered this commentary (Was North Africa the Launch Pad for Modern Human Migrations?) back in January when it appeared in Science, but it's a great time to read it again, as the redrawing of the human Y-chromosome tree may vindicate its perspective, and indicate that Out-of-Africa was in reality Out-of-North Africa.

In any case, here's a pdf copy (and another) of the Balter piece, as well as a podcast in which he talks about "the growing evidence that North Africa was the original home of the modern humans who first trekked out of the continent".

Here is another spooky date coincidence with our new 142ka forefather:
During the past 2 years, the dates have gotten even older. In 2009, Barton and Abdeljalil Bouzouggar of the National Institute of Archaeological and Heritage Sciences in Rabat reported OSL dates of at least 110,000 years from the Aterian site
of Dar es-Soltan in Morocco; and in a new volume edited by Garcea, the team reports
similarly old dates from three other Moroccan caves. Then in September, TL dates of about 145,000 years were reported for Ifrin’Ammar in Morocco. “The Aterian goes back at least 145,000 years,” Stringer says.“That’s an incredible length of time.”
PS: This is probably also a good place to remind readers of the story of Kiffians and Tenerians. Methinks that the Kiffians may have been some of the last unadmixed indigenous descendants of the ancestral Saharan population during its latest Holocene wet phase; these late hunter-gatherers were eventually replaced by the tide of farmers on both sides of the Sahara, but perhaps some of their genes live on in NW Africa.


  1. Aterian and the tools you are showing in that picture do not seem to have much in common: I'm bored of looking at Aterian implements (for example those in the paper you link to) and they are of the rough MP style not the refined UP one depicted in this article, which looks of an older period and I'd say that not even "Aurignacoid" (Dabban) but of later age (Oranian probably as they seem to have both Solutrean and Gravettian influences).

    Overall the argumentation of North Africa being behind the OoA looks weak precisely because of the uniqueness of Aterian industries, which are not found anywhere else on Earth, not even approximately so. Even the probably related peoples of Skhul & Qahfez used typical Mousterian instead.

    In South Asia (Petraglia, several works) we do find MSA style tools since at least c. 90 Ka. That's a clue favoring the coastal model via Arabia. This kind of refined "Solutroid" style tools are first known to have existed in Southern Africa, not in the North.

    It is also in South Asia where we find the first mode 4 blades, some of them in extremely early dates (c. 100 Ka ago), but more commonly at later dates.

    Surely the OoA was a more complex pattern than the linear migration thread we are sometimes lead to think of but there is some truth in that "thread migration" model anyhow probably.

    Africa was surely overflowing repeatedly (intermittently too) on itself (incl. North Africa) and Arabia and maybe other parts of West Asia (Palestine, Persian Gulf). The question is more like when did Arabia/Persian Gulf overflowed into South Asia in a manner that allowed for continuity and expansion.

    The evidence is strong for 80 Ka. ago (with 90 Ka. ago in Arabia) but there's some evidence for even older flows c. 125 Ka. as well.

  2. Bringing the tool-industry into the question of chronologies - you may start by defining whats 'primitive' vs. 'simple' vs. 'refined' vs. 'advanced'.

    Thus one simlpe question: What 'category' or 'culture' would you place this plain tool:


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