One of the contentious issues in paleoanthropology today concerns the geographic route/routes through which hominins (early humans) left Africa. The Nile corridor and the Strait of Bab al-Mandab (the southern Red Sea) are commonly cited as the likely routes by which hominins dispersed out of East Africa (Van Peer 1998; Derricourt 2005; Beyin 2006). However, the extent to which hominin movements remained confned to these regions is unclear. The western periphery of the Red Sea (WPRS) occupies a critical geographic location to be considered as an ideal region to assess the role of coastal habitats in hominin survival, and the facilitation of important transitions in human evolution, as well as the possibility of hominin dispersal out of Africa through a coastal corridor. As a coast-bound corridor linking the fossil-rich East African Rift system with Southwest Asia, the region may have hosted multiple hominin settlement episodes, and some of the inhabitants may have easily dispersed toward Eurasia from there (Beyin in press). Unfortunately, the region had seen little Stone-Age focused research in the past, hindering an informed assessment of its contribution to hominin survival and dispersal. With these questions and ecological scenarios in mind, in 2017, members of the current project launched ‘The Red Sea Paleolithic Project’ aimed at investigating the role of the WPRS in hominin survival and their movement out of Africa through documenting and studying Stone Age sites in the Red Sea coastal region of the Sudan. To this end, in the summer of 2017, the team carried out a three-week pilot exploration in the Agig and Khor Baraka districts of the Sudanese Red Sea region, which resulted in the documentation of fve sites and numerous low-density lithic scatters on diverse landscape settings (Beyin et al. 2019). The most conspicuous artefact class documented at the surveyed localities were what archaeologists commonly identify as bifaces or large cutting tools (mainly of the handaxe type) that are characteristic of the Acheulean technocomplex, dating to c. 1.7–0.3Ma (Ma = million years ago) in Africa (de la Torre 2016). Other encountered artefact types included points, scrapers, and prepared core products referable to the African Middle Stone Age (MSA, dating roughly to 300–50ka (ka = 1000 years ago) (Barham and Mitchell 2008). The fnds suggest that the region hosted multiple hominin occupation episodes since the Acheulean and MSA technocomplexes are generally thought to have appeared at different times alongside the appearance of distinct hominin lineages.
Original Publication Information
Beyin A. , Adem A. A., Balela A. A.O. and Adem A. B. "Results of a Second Season of Paleolithic Survey in the Agig Area: Red Sea Region of the Sudan." 2020 Sudan & Nubia (24): 258-271.
Beyin, Amanuel; Adam, Abubakr Abdelrahman; Balela, Ahmed Alhaj O.; and Adem, Boshra Abdella, "Results of a second season of Paleolithic survey in the Agig area: the Red Sea region of the Sudan" (2020). Faculty Scholarship. 796.