400,000 years ago, the mighty Arabian desert was teeming with vegetation with hippos, wild cattle, and ancient humans.
Not even the perennial dunes of the Arabian desert have been there since the beginning of time. Arabia was once green, according to a recent study by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. Specifically, during the Stone Age, the ecosystem served as a haven of rest for migratory groups of human beings, hundreds of thousands of years ago. Under the inexorable force of climate change, however, that oasis was lost.
Before the desert
A meteorological phenomenon known as monsoon rains caused the Arabian Peninsula to enjoy, for millennia, a landscape full of vegetation. The scientists in charge of the research came to this conclusion due to the tools found in the dunes of the region, North Africa and Southwest Asia. This was due to the great lakes that existed there.
In total, there is a record of 5 large bodies of water of different ages. Today, this space is named after Khalil Ameslan 4, or KAM 4, and features sediments from ancient lake beds. In the depths – now turned to sand – carved stones were found suggesting consistent human presence. Traces of ” hippos, wild cattle, and other animals ” were also found, according to the Science News coverage.
The findings were published in Nature, and reveal the possibility that large groups of hominids visited the green Arabian region during the Stone Age. Back then, the climate is believed to have been humid, favoring these early humans to temporarily live there, according to archaeologist Huw Groupcast of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany.
Evolution of the Arabian ecosystem
According to Groupcast, Arabia was not the only one that was once green. On the contrary, the deserts of China and the surrounding regions also suffered radical changes in their ecosystems, which are currently covered entirely by sand. Today we know that, before these changes happened, prehistoric human groups settled there temporarily to make food, hunt, and practice carpentry.
According to the team of German scientists, these artifacts were made by Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. Some date from 125 thousand years ago, while others are more recent, from 75 thousand years ago. This coincides with the arrival in the current Middle East of both species, explains Groupcast, which may have reached a green Arabia 20,000 years later.
Axes, knives, remains of arrows, and other prehistoric tools were found at the KAM 4 site, the authors wrote in a statement. After remaining in the Arabian Peninsula, these human groups followed their evolutionary path looking for other territories to establish themselves, in an increasingly definitive way. The findings confirm that this area of the planet served as a hominid dispersal channel. The change in the Arabian ecosystem was fundamental for them to reach their final settlement place.