According to a new study, 80,000 years ago, humans left Africa and migrated to Eurasia through the ‘corridor’ of rivers along the Sinai Peninsula via Jordan.
Scientists at the University of Southampton have collaborated with scientists around the world on the new research.
Scientists say they have confirmed past theories that this land route was used by some of the first migrants from Asia.
According to the study, published in the journal Science Advances, intelligent humans chose river routes for travel where “water was available in abundance.” Those rivers have dried up in these areas and now there are deserts.
This research also includes fieldwork conducted in the Jordan Valley during which hand tools known as stone knives were discovered on the banks of the valleys. The now dry rivers were full of water at that time.
The scientists used luminescence dating techniques to determine the age of the soil under which the tools were buried.
The results show that these tools were used around 84,000 years ago and then left on the sides of the valleys and later buried in the soil over time.
Modern humans evolved in Africa two to three hundred thousand years ago and spread out of the continent in several stages, settling in Asia and then Europe.
Paul Carling, Professor of Geomorphology (the study of Earth evolution and surface features) at the University of Southampton, says: ‘It has long been thought that humans migrated across the Red Sea when sea levels were low. Africans used the southern passage to reach southwest Arabia from the eastern edge.
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‘However, our research confirms that there was a much-used northward travel route on the other side of the only land route from Africa to Eurasia.’
‘Our newly published evidence is an important piece of the puzzle showing that humans migrated using a northern route. Using small water bodies as a base while hunting the large numbers of wildlife in the dry grasslands.
“Although previous studies looked at large lakes as potential water resources, small estuaries were actually very important for stopovers during migration.”
“West Asia served as a well-watered corridor for the spread of modern humans out of Africa, and now we have proven that,” said lead author of the study Dr. Mahmood Abbas from Shantou University in China. Given that the same thing happened in the Rift Valley region of Jordan.
‘Paleohydrological evidence from the Jordanian desert adds to our understanding of the environment at that time.
“Grasslands, rather than arid deserts, would have provided humans with much-needed survival resources during their journey out of Africa, into southwest Asia and beyond.”