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Dispersal of Hominins across Arabia (Geology Section)

Wed. 15 March 2023 at 7:30 pm

A talk by Paul Breeze.

Online via Zoom.

Today the Sahara and Arabia are relatively arid, forbidding regions. However, repeatedly during the past, climate change altered the monsoon extents, and these deserts received a lot more rainfall than today. Over recent years, multi-disciplinary analyses and fieldwork involving several international teams and local specialists in a range of locations, particularly Saudi Arabia, have revealed numerous new discoveries concerning these ‘Green Sahara’ and ‘Green Arabia’ periods, and how they may also have played important roles in the early movements of our own species out of Africa. At such times, lakes and rivers formed, and savannah animals and hominins (human species) moved into these deserts.

In this lecture Paul will discuss these climatic change events, and how new analyses are allowing the reconstruction of how the environments of the Sahara and Arabia changed over time. New discoveries in this area have rapidly changed models of human dispersal in the past, so he will also focus on the implications this recent work and new discoveries have concerning early movements of Homo sapiens out of Africa, and for later populations living in the Saharo-Arabian desert belt.

A landscape archaeologist and palaeogeographer, Paul researches archaeological sites and evidence for past climate change in deserts. A major focus of this research has been mapping where lakes and rivers once existed in the deserts of Africa, Arabia and Asia during prehistory, and how this relates to early movements of Homo sapiens and other hominins Out-of-Africa. To do this he uses methods ranging from analysis of satellite and aerial imagery, through to mapping sites on-the-ground using highly precise GPS systems and drones, and excavation.

Paul started began his archaeological career as a commercial archaeologist, later becoming a landscape archaeologist at the University of Birmingham (UK). His PhD thesis defined new methods for locating ancient rivers and lakes in deserts and mapped the ancient hydrology of Arabia. He has been travelling into deserts on fieldwork since 2009, with these expeditions and his research spanning the deserts of North Africa, Arabia and Asia. He has authored or co-authored 46 articles to date, which have reported new archaeological sites, and refined models of Saharo-Arabian palaeoenvironments and routes by which hominins may have dispersed during the past.


Wed. 15 March 2023
7:30 pm
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Geology Section (Greg Callaghan)


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