Stone Age tools and animal bones in Tunisia provide new clues on a 72,000-year-old ‘early human corridor’ across Africa

Lying at the ‘crossroads’ for north-south movements between the Sahara and the Mediterranean, Tunisia is one of the world’s key regions for under early human travels.

Researchers have now discovered animal bones and stone tools in the land that once formed a giant lake in Tunisia.

They say their findings suggest that there may have been human activity in the area as early as 72,000 years ago.

EARLY HUMANS IN TUNISIA

The researchers believe the findings suggest that the Chotts megalake may have formed an early corridor for the dispersal of humans.

They say that the landscape was once wet and green, which would have made it an ideal habitat for animals and human settlements.

Scattered stones and animal bones also suggest that humans hunted in the area.

Researchers from Oxford University and Kings College London discovered the bones and tools on the margins of the dried up Chotts megalake.

They believe the shores of the lake may have formed an early corridor across the Sahara for the dispersal of Homo sapiens and other animals from Sub-Saharan Africa between 200,000 to 10,000 years ago.

The researchers say the bones are particularly interesting, revealing a mixture of large animals including rhinoceros, zebra, bovids, carnivores and ostrich.

Nabiha Aouadi, co-director of the project, said: ‘The faunal assemblage represents a sub-Saharan and savanna biotope very different from the one that exists there today’.

The team believes that once the landscape was wet and green, which would have made it an ideal habitat for animals and human settlements.

Scattered stones and animal bones also suggest that humans hunted in the area.

Professor Nick Barton, who led the study, said the stone tools are ‘classic examples of a (Middle Stone Age) hunting technology with many small stemmed points (Aterian points) for tipping throwing spears.’

Chotts megalake may have acted as a staging posts as early humans migrated north through the Mediterranean, and throughout Africa” class=”blkBorder img-share”/>

The researchers believe that the Chotts megalake may have acted as a staging posts as early humans migrated north through the Mediterranean, and throughout Africa

Interestingly, some of the stone tools were made from a raw material called Silcrete, which was sourced at a distance of 90 miles (150 kilometres) from the site.

Using new dating techniques, the researchers suggest that the shoreline deposits date to between 72,000 and 98,000 years ago, showing when the area was once a lake.

The bones reveal that a mixture of large animals including rhinoceros, zebra, bovids, carnivores and ostrich, lived in the area

It is fed by several small rivers emanating from the Atlas Mountains and two much larger river systems that have their sources in the Tassili n-Ajjer and Hoggar Mountains of the central Sahara.

When full, the Chotts Megalake has an area of 30,000km, and lake waters overflow from the Chotts into the Mediterranean Sea.

Today, the Chotts region is characterised by several large exposures of mud sediments and small salt lakes.

The former extensive lake system was fed by several small rivers starting in the Atlas Mountains and two much larger river systems that have their sources in the Tassili n-Ajjer and Hoggar Mountains of the central Sahara.

Professor Nick Barton, co-lead of the project, said: ‘This is the first well-dated Aterian site in the northern Sahara.

‘It shows that Homo sapiens had populated this area by at least 72,000 years ago, using the lakes as a staging posts in their dispersal across Africa.’

Mail Online

 

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