Unravelling the Palaeolithic 2015 Conference

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The Palaeolithic Occupation of the Southern Red Sea Coastline, Southwestern Saudi Arabia Robyn Inglis 1, Anthony Sinclair 2, Andrew Shuttleworth 3, Frederick Foulds 4, Abdullah Alsharekh 5, Saud Al Ghamdi 5, Geoffrey Bailey 1 1 Department of Archaeology, University of York, UK 2 School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool, UK 3 Department of Anthropology, University of Durham, UK 4 Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, UK 5 Department of Archaeology, College of Tourism and Antiquities, King Saud University, KSA The role of coastal landscapes and resources in dispersals has long been the subject of debate, particularly in assessing the conditions and timing of global dispersals of modern humans from Africa. Coastal landscapes potentially provide highly attractive concentrations of different marine and terrestrial resources but are not uniformly attractive to exploitation. Current discussions into the extent to which Pleistocene coastal areas were exploited by hominin populations are hampered in large part due to their submergence by Holocene sea level rise. New data on Palaeolithic coastal occupation directly related to palaeoshorelines, from both terrestrial and underwater contexts, are therefore urgently needed. The DISPERSE project is addressing these issues through a combination of archaeological survey and underwater investigation along the Red Sea coastline of Southwestern Saudi Arabia, a region key to dispersals along the 'Southern Route' from Africa into Arabia. This paper presents new data on Early and Middle Stone Age artefacts from the Red Sea coastline of the Harrat Al Birk lava fields, located by DISPERSE between 2012-2015. This 100km coastline contains numerous raised fossil beach deposits and coral terraces, some associated with Palaeolithic artefacts. In particular, the Dhahaban Quarry site has yielded over 400 lithics, 19 of which were stratified in deposits below a fossil beach complex. The nature of these deposits and their associated archaeology are discussed in the context of the challenges involved with identifying and assessing the Palaeolithic record of coastal region exploitation.
Period22 Apr 201523 Apr 2100
Event typeConference
LocationOxford, United KingdomShow on map