University of Hull logo

Were rivers flowing across the Sahara during the last interglacial? Implications for human migration through Africa.

Ramirez, Jorge A.; Bruecher, Tim; Coulthard, Tom J.; Rogerson, Mike; Barton, Nick; Brücher, Tim


Jorge A. Ramirez

Nick Barton

Tim Brücher


John P. Hart


Human migration north through Africa is contentious. This paper uses a novel palaeohydrological and hydraulic modelling approach to test the hypothesis that under wetter climates c.100,000 years ago major river systems ran north across the Sahara to the Mediterranean, creating viable migration routes. We confirm that three of these now buried palaeo river systems could have been active at the key time of human migration across the Sahara. Unexpectedly, it is the most western of these three rivers, the Irharhar river, that represents the most likely route for human migration. The Irharhar river flows directly south to north, uniquely linking the mountain areas experiencing monsoon climates at these times to temperate Mediterranean environments where food and resources would have been abundant. The findings have major implications for our understanding of how humans migrated north through Africa, for the first time providing a quantitative perspective on the probabilities that these routes were viable for human habitation at these times.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 11, 2013
Journal PLoS ONE
Print ISSN 1932-6203
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 9
Article Number ARTN e74834
Pages 0-0
Keywords REF 2014 submission, Rain , Rivers, Surface water, Palaeoclimatology, Archaeology, Simulation and modelling, Evaporation, Africa
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations