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The expansion of later Acheulean hominins into the Arabian Peninsula

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Eleanor M.L. Scerri, Ceri Shipton, Laine Clark-Balzan, Marine Frouin, Jean Luc Schwenninger, Huw S. Groucutt, Paul S. Breeze, Ash Parton, James Blinkhorn, Nick A. Drake, Richard Jennings, Patrick Cuthbertson, Abdulaziz Al Omari, Abdullah M. Alsharekh, Michael D. Petraglia

Original languageEnglish
Article number17165
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Accepted/In press28 Oct 2018
Published1 Dec 2018

King's Authors


The Acheulean is the longest lasting cultural–technological tradition in human evolutionary history. However, considerable gaps remain in understanding the chronology and geographical distribution of Acheulean hominins. We present the first chronometrically dated Acheulean site from the Arabian Peninsula, a vast and poorly known region that forms more than half of Southwest Asia. Results show that Acheulean hominin occupation expanded along hydrological networks into the heart of Arabia from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 7 until at least ~190 ka ̶ the youngest documented Acheulean in Southwest Asia. The site of Saffaqah features Acheulean technology, characterized by large flakes, handaxes and cleavers, similar to Acheulean assemblages in Africa. These findings reveal a climatically-mediated later Acheulean expansion into a poorly known region, amplifying the documented diversity of Middle Pleistocene hominin behaviour across the Old World and elaborating the terminal archaic landscape encountered by our species as they dispersed out of Africa.

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