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Tectonic geomorphology and soil edaphics as controls on animal migrations and early human settlement and dispersal

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Title of host publicationGeological Setting, Palaeoenvironment and Archaeology of the Red Sea
DateSubmitted - 2017
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Feb 2018
DatePublished (current) - 6 Jan 2019
Pages653-673
Number of pages31
PublisherSpringer
Place of PublicationCham,, Switzerland
EditorsNajeeb Rasul, Ian Stewart
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Electronic)9783319994086
ISBN (Print)9783319994079

Abstract

This chapter examines the relationship between the changing geomorphology of physical land forms in tectonically and volcanically active regions, topography, soil nutrients, movements of large mammals, and patterns of human subsistence and dispersal in the early stages of human evolution. We place particular emphasis on the ways in which minor topographic barriers – e.g., river gorges, fault scarps and basaltic lava flows – constrain the movements of large mammals during their seasonal migrations and offer opportunities for early human populations to ambush animals, taking advantage of predictable natural constrictions. We also emphasise the importance of soil edaphics – the mineral composition of soils as a source of trace elements essential for animal growth and health – as another key variable in determining the distribution and movements of animals and their human hunters. Soil edaphics are closely related to the nature of the underlying regolith or bedrock, and are consequently highly variable in their distribution, providing additional constraints on animal movements. We show how the combination of topographic and soil-edaphic mapping in conjunction with the observed locations of stone-tool or fossil assemblages can highlight patterns of early human behaviour, using examples from the East African and Jordanian Rifts and the Arabian margin of the Red Sea. Finally, we note that these methods have potential to be applied more widely in other regions of the world and to problems of animal and human health at the present-day

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