Recent work has shown early modern human occupation at Jebel Irhoud, Morocco dating as far back as MIS 9 (337 – 300 Ka). Such early dates double the period in which modern humans were present in North Africa with implications for several key debates on modern human origins and subsequent spread. Routes across a ‘green Sahara’ allowed population movement intermittently from Sub-Saharan Africa and across the Saharan region in general (Armitage et al.2007; Drake et al. 2008; Osborne et al. 2008). This has implications for the debate about the timing and routes of modern human expansion across and Out of Africa (James & Petraglia 2005; Mellars 2006) but also has the effect of focussing discussion on the archaeological record of sub-Saharan Africa and even Arabia for evidence of human behaviour and adaptations. This may be unfortunate as the record for much of the vast area of sub-Saharan Africa and Arabia is extremely limited and the more detailed record of the Levantine region is overlooked. Work at the Haua Fteah and in its surrounding region (Cyrenaican Libyan) provides an opportunity to investigate how far the Palaeolithic record for this part of North Africa is, in fact, a product of trans-Saharan, North African or Levantine, influences. The genetic evidence suggests the process of modern human expansion Out of Africa and just as importantly, within Africa itself, was a complex one that may have involved population movements into and out of North Africa from several different directions. A concentration upon the Green Sahara hypothesis may distract current research from this broader picture
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