Archaeologists have discovered a huge cache of ancient stone artifacts in Saudi Arabia that could shed light on when early humans first left Africa.
Some of the artifacts, which were found at Wadi Dabsa in southwest Saudi Arabia near the Red Sea, may be up to 1.76 million years old, according to a report by Live Science.
The stone artifacts include hand axes, stone knives, scrapers, piercers, spear points, and hammer stones. Because of their design, the archaeologists say many of the artifacts are “Acheulian” — or types of stone tools made between 1.76 million and 100,000 years ago.
“We hope to try and date the tufa [a type of limestone] and basalt flows within the site, which are associated [with] the large assemblage recovered from within the wadi,” said lead author Frederick Foulds, an archaeology professor at Durham University in England, in the Live Science report.
According to Foulds, his team can already see that the stone tools date to an era when the climate was wetter than it is now.
“It’s far more arid than it was at certain points in time,” Foulds said. “It’s strange to be walking over hard, dry rocks which were formed by water pooling during a far wetter period. We think it was during these wetter periods that it’s likely the site was occupied.”
The geography of the Wadi Dabsa region may have provided early humans with a refuge from extreme climatic changes brought on by glacial cycles, the researchers say.