A spatiotemporally explicit paleoenvironmental framework for the Middle Stone Age of eastern Africa



Timbrell, Lucy ORCID: 0000-0003-1229-554X, Grove, Matt ORCID: 0000-0002-2293-8732, Manica, Andrea, Rucina, Stephen and Blinkhorn, James
(2022) A spatiotemporally explicit paleoenvironmental framework for the Middle Stone Age of eastern Africa. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 12 (1). 3689-.

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Abstract

Eastern Africa has played a prominent role in debates about human evolution and dispersal due to the presence of rich archaeological, palaeoanthropological and palaeoenvironmental records. However, substantial disconnects occur between the spatial and temporal resolutions of these data that complicate their integration. Here, we apply high-resolution climatic simulations of two key parameters, mean annual temperature and precipitation, and a biome model, to produce a highly refined characterisation of the environments inhabited during the eastern African Middle Stone Age. Occupations are typically found in sub-humid climates and landscapes dominated by or including tropical xerophytic shrubland. Marked expansions from these core landscapes include movement into hotter, low-altitude landscapes in Marine Isotope Stage 5 and cooler, high-altitude landscapes in Marine Isotope Stage 3, with the recurrent inhabitation of ecotones between open and forested habitats. Through our use of high-resolution climate models, we demonstrate a significant independent relationship between past precipitation and patterns of Middle Stone Age stone tool production modes overlooked by previous studies. Engagement with these models not only enables spatiotemporally explicit examination of climatic variability across Middle Stone Age occupations in eastern Africa but enables clearer characterisation of the habitats early human populations were adapted to, and how they changed through time.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Humans, Ecosystem, Climate, Archaeology, Africa, Eastern, Forests
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Histories, Languages and Cultures
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2022 12:29
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 21:05
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-07742-y
Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-07742-y
Related URLs:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3152273