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

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

Authors

Jorge A. Ramirez

Nick Barton

Tim Brücher



Contributors

John P. Hart
Editor

Abstract

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.

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
Institution Citation Coulthard, T. J., Ramirez, J. A., Barton, N., Rogerson, M., & Brücher, T. (2013). Were rivers flowing across the Sahara during the last interglacial? Implications for human migration through Africa. PloS one, 8(9), 0-0. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0074834
DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0074834
Keywords REF 2014 submission, Rain , Rivers, Surface water, Palaeoclimatology, Archaeology, Simulation and modelling, Evaporation, Africa
Publisher URL http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0074834

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