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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Australie → 2019 → A taphonomic and zooarchaeol ogical study of Pleistocene fossil assemblages from the western Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia

University of New South Wales (UNSW) 2019

A taphonomic and zooarchaeol ogical study of Pleistocene fossil assemblages from the western Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia

Stewart, Mathew

Titre : A taphonomic and zooarchaeol ogical study of Pleistocene fossil assemblages from the western Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia

Auteur : Stewart, Mathew

Université de soutenance : University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2019

Résumé
Despite its geographical positioning at the crossroads of Africa and Eurasia, the Arabian Peninsula has been largely absent from models regarding hominin out of Africa dispersals and evolution. However, a recent upturn in archaeological and palaeoenvironmental research is providing a platform with which to consider Arabia into these debates. This thesis aims to address one of the remaining gaps in the Arabian record – that of palaeontology – by investigating Pleistocene fossil deposits from the western Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia. In Chapter Two, I conduct an extensive review of the Pleistocene mammal fossil record from Arabia and the surrounding regions. This review highlights the composite nature of the Arabian fossil record, significant climate-induced faunal turnover in Africa, and relatively stable conditions in Southwest and South Asia. In Chapter Three, my colleagues and I conduct stable isotope analysis of fossil fauna associated with newly discovered stone tools and probable butchery marks. Results demonstrate that conditions were comparable to modern-day East African savannas, suggesting hominin dispersals into the region required no major novel adaptations. In Chapters Four, Five, and Six, I conduct detailed taxonomic and taphonomic analyses to provide insights into past environmental conditions and site formation processes. Results indicate that bones accumulated in conditions more humid and vegetated than the present day, while more recent processes such as wind and salt weathering have drastically altered fossil appearance and composition. In Chapter Five, I report hominin and non-hominin mammal tracks and trackways. The age of the tracks implies Homo sapiens was the probably trackmaker, while analysis of the track assemblage suggests that H. sapiens and large mammals were occupying and utilizing similar spaces and resources at the same times. The age of the tracks also suggests the earliest H. sapiens dispersals out of Africa were not restricted to the Levant but extended into the Arabian interior. Taken together, these studies provide unique and detailed insights into the interplay between hominins, animals, and the environment within the Arabian interior and have shed considerable light on some of palaeoanthropology’s outstanding questions.

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Page publiée le 19 janvier 2021