An archaeological scenario for Out of Arabia
Map of Arabian refugia showing extent of landscape duringperiods of reduced sea level. The Persian Gulf shorelines at various sealevel increments have been adapted from Kennett and Kennett (2006;Fig. 2, pp. 72). Date ranges were calculated based on global eustatic sealevel curves as well as the Late Pleistocene/Holocene record of sea leveltransgression into the Gulf basin (e.g., Lambeck, 1996
Jeffrey Rose and Anthony Marks have a preprint in which he details an archaeological scenario for the emergence of the Emiran (arguably the best candidate for the ur-Upper Paleolithic at the moment) from Arabian progenitors who themselves had Northeast African Nubian Levallois progenitors. I proposed Out of Arabia a few years ago and followed research suggestive of such a trajectory of modern humans in various posts under the Out of Arabia label.
In a nutshell, it seems to me that the 50kya OoAfrica model is wrong, falsified by (i) the dating of Neandertal adixture (which precedes it and could only have happened outside of Africa), (ii) the dating of human mtDNA and NRY trees in numerous papers that show a split that precedes 50kya. This in itself proves that the Upper Paleolithic (which is attested in the post-50kya period and rapidly spreads across Eurasia in a genetic Big Bang of expansion leading to the full disapof Neandertals by ~40kya) must have local Eurasian origins rather than being an import from Africa.
If UP is not linked to the Out-of-Africa event, then two questions arise: (i) how did the UP arise in Eurasia, and (ii) when did the Out-of-Africa event take place? The increasing adoption of a "slow mutation rate", the discovery of a potential~100kya layer of ancestry separating Europeans from East Asians, and, on the archaeology side, the proliferation of evidence against the "coastal migration route" all hint in OoAfrica taking place much earlier than the UP revolution in answer to question (ii). Indeed, one of the few stumbling blocks of a much earlier Out-of-Africa (the date of L3~70kya) may actually be falling, if it turns out that African L3 is nested within Eurasian M+N and not vice versa. The new preprint by Rose snf Marks helps answer question (i) by proposing an archaeological scenario that derives the UP of the Levant from the MP of Arabia.
From the paper:
In sum, the tool assemblages of the early Emiran include a combination of both classic UP tool types and MP Levallois points; it cannot be accurately characterized as fully UP, rather, an amalgamation of MP and UP forms. Viewed solely within a Levantine context, the technological and typological patterning of the early Emiran might suggest it derived from local innovation without significant external demographic input.
So, with no clear cut antecedents in the Levant, do the three Emiran technological traits that have no deep Levantine ancestry (i.e., bidirectional core preparation, the use of cresting, and the presence of lateral modification on Levallois points), have demonstrable origins elsewhere? Conversely, do those deeply rooted Levantine characteristics of the Emiran (i.e., elongated Levallois point production and UP tool manufacture) have comparable analogues in adjacent areas?
Given these technological and typological considerations, we find no direct relationship between any northeast African MIS 5 industry and the early Emiran. The African data do suggest that the Emiran preferential bidirectional Levallois point production strategy ultimately arose in northeast Africa during late MIS 6. This reduction strategy became increasingly widespread during MIS 5, where it spread as far south as the Ethiopian Rift and east into the Arabian Peninsula. This wide distribution suggests extensive cultural contact, either direct or indirect, along the Nile Valley and across the Red Sea during the Last Interglacial, when climatic conditions were optimal.
By MIS 5.3 (~ 100 ka), perhaps, even as early as the Last Interglacial, the African Nubian Complex was widespread in Arabia, from the Yemeni Hadramawt to the eastern edge of the Nejd Plateau in southern Oman. Additional manifestations of this technocomplex have been found in the Rub' al Khali, central Saudi Arabia, and the Al Jawf basin of northern Saudi Arabia, less than 300 km southeast of ‘Ain Difla. Given the Nilotic origin of the Nubian Complex, its presence in Arabia may be firmly understood as a huntergatherer range expansion out of northeast Africa.
The techno-typological patterns we have observed point to an origin of the Emiran that was neither wholly rooted in the Levant nor the result of a complete demographic replacement from groups expanding out of Africa; rather, the Emiran combines elements of the Nubian Levallois system with typological elements from the southern Levantine Mousterian. This scenario envisions a zone stretching across the interface of northwestern Arabia and the southern Levant, where the territories of Levantine and Arabian huntergatherer populations overlapped during MIS 5. Bilateral exchange over time resulted in the incorporation of an Afro-Arabian core reduction strategy with a Levantine toolmaking tradition that extends back to the Early Mousterian.
African Nubian Complex toolmakers, at least, were modern humans. AMH specimens have been documented in North Africa from 150 ka onward (Smith et al., 2007; Hublin and McPherron, 2012), while no other species has yet been found there. An AMH child burial was excavated from an extraction pit associated with Activity Phase III at Taramsa Hill 1 (Vermeersch et al., 1998; Van Peer et al., 2010), with a terminus post quem of ca. 70 ka. Given the technological similarity of the Classic Dhofar Nubian and the Late Nubian Complex of the Middle Nile Valley in Egypt, as well as the fact that there is no evidence for prior MP human occupation in southern Oman, it is reasonable to associate the distribution of Nubian Complex sites with a population of AMHs spread across northeast Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The presence of Nubian Levallois technology in southern Arabia and the Horn of Africa (Clark, 1954; Kurashina, 1978; Clark, 1988; Beyin, 2013), as well as northern Arabia and in the Red Sea hills of Egypt, suggests that early human groups traveled to and from Africa via both the Arabian and Levantine Corridors.
It is unfortunate that Arabia is so poor (to wholly deficient?) in ancient human remains from this critical period. Nonetheless, it makes sense that if modern humans were present in Northeast Africa in association with Nubian Complex tools, they would be the ones who carried them to Arabia. The presence of AMH in the Levant (associated with Mousterian tools) was often dismissed until recently as the Out-of-Africa that failed, partly because the Shkul/Qafzeh hominins were the only pre-UP modern humans in Eurasia (making their extinction plausible) and partly because of the widespread view that Out-of-Africa happened ~70-50kya (which by definition would imply that the Mount Carmel hominins weren't the Out-of-Africa.
However, if AMH were also present in Arabia during the MP it is much more difficult to argue for extinction of Eurasian modern humans and later replacement by a "late" Out-of-Africa event: this would imply that both the Levantine and Arabian humans would disappear. Moreover, the genetics no longer requires a late Out-of-Africa event and the UP is no longer plausibly concurrent with the OoAfrica event. In short, a quite simple explanation is that one group of AMH (from Arabia) mixed with another group of AMH (from the Levant) and the UP arose in this population. The latter group (from the Levant) lived in proximity to Neandertals and thus the evidence for Neandertal admixture in non-Africans is easily explained (no need to invoke unattested Neandertals admixing with "coastal route" migrating humans).
"Out of Arabia" and the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition in the southern Levant
Jeffrey I. Rose, Anthony E. Marks
Beginning some 50 thousand years ago, a technological transition spread across the Near East and into Eurasia, in the most general terms characterized by a shift from preferential, prepared core reduction systems to the serial production of elongated points via opposed platform cores. The earliest known occurrence of such a technological shift is the Emiran Industry, whose earliest manifestations are found in the southern Levant. The cultural and demographic source(s) of this industry, however, remain unresolved. Looking to archaeogenetic research, the emerging picture indicates a major dispersal of our species out of Africa between 100 and 50 thousand years ago. Ancient DNA evidence points to low levels of admixture between Neanderthal and these pioneering modern human populations, which some suggest occurred in the Near East between 60 and 40 thousand years ago. These propositions underscore the significance of the Emiran and beg a reassessment of its origins. In this paper, we ask whether the Emiran was a local development, a cultural/demographic replacement, or the fusion of indigenous and exogenous lithic traditions. Our analysis considers the techno-typological features of the early Emiran in relation to late Middle Palaeolithic and contemporaneous assemblages from adjacent territories in Northeast Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, in order to identify overlapping cultural features and potential antecedents. Parsimonious with the archaeogenetic scenario of admixture, the Emiran seems to represent a fusion of local southern Levantine Mousterian typological elements with the Afro-Arabian Nubian Levallois reduction strategy. We conclude that the Emiran is primarily rooted in the Early Nubian Complex of the Nile Valley, which spread into the Arabian Peninsula during the Last Interglacial and developed at the interface of these two contextual areas between 100 and 50 thousand years ago.