Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 6 (11), e28239

The Nubian Complex of Dhofar, Oman: An African Middle Stone Age Industry in Southern Arabia

Affiliations

The Nubian Complex of Dhofar, Oman: An African Middle Stone Age Industry in Southern Arabia

Jeffrey I Rose et al. PLoS One.

Abstract

Despite the numerous studies proposing early human population expansions from Africa into Arabia during the Late Pleistocene, no archaeological sites have yet been discovered in Arabia that resemble a specific African industry, which would indicate demographic exchange across the Red Sea. Here we report the discovery of a buried site and more than 100 new surface scatters in the Dhofar region of Oman belonging to a regionally-specific African lithic industry--the late Nubian Complex--known previously only from the northeast and Horn of Africa during Marine Isotope Stage 5, ∼128,000 to 74,000 years ago. Two optically stimulated luminescence age estimates from the open-air site of Aybut Al Auwal in Oman place the Arabian Nubian Complex at ∼106,000 years ago, providing archaeological evidence for the presence of a distinct northeast African Middle Stone Age technocomplex in southern Arabia sometime in the first half of Marine Isotope Stage 5.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Map of Nubian Complex occurrences in Northeast Africa and Arabia.
Distribution of Nubian Complex sites and findspots are depicted, as well as MSA/MP sites with human remains. To account for shoreline configuration ∼100 ka, sea level is adjusted to −40 m below present levels. Nubian Complex sites include: Jebel Urayf (1), Jebel Naquah (2), Nazlet Khater (3), Abydos (4), Makhadma (5), Taramsa Hill (6), Sodmein Cave (7), Kharga Oasis (8), Bir Tarfawi (9), Bir Sahara (10), Abu Simbel (11), Jebel Brinikol (12), 1035 (13), 1038 (14), Sai Island (15), Gorgora Rockshelter (16), K'One (17), Hargeisa (18), Shabwa (19), Wadi Wa'shah (20), Aybut Al Auwal (21), Aybut Ath Thani (22), Mudayy As Sodh (23), and Jebel Sanoora (24).
Figure 2
Figure 2. Schematic of preferential Levallois core preparation strategies mentioned in text.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Dhofar ecological zones and place names mentioned in text.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Digital elevation model of Dhofar and Nubian Complex site distribution.
Survey transects covered during the 2010 and 2011 fieldwork campaigns, distribution of Nubian Complex occurrences ranked by artifact density, and specific sites mentioned in text are depicted.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Photo of Aybut Al Auwal gully.
One of the meandering stream channels incising the chert-covered terrace. Excavation section is immediately in front of car.
Figure 6
Figure 6. Nubian Type 1 cores from Aybut Al Auwal.
Core in panel A shows dark patination/varnish and was collected from terrace surface, while core depicted in panel B is partially desilicified and was excavated from stratigraphic Unit 3.
Figure 7
Figure 7. Topographic relief of Aybut Al Auwal terrace (vertically exaggerated) and sediment log.
Figure 8
Figure 8. Photo of buried Nubian Type 1 core in situ.
Position of artifact is shown in relation to AYB1-OSL1 sample; both are within stratigraphic Unit 3.
Figure 9
Figure 9. Nubian Levallois cores from Aybut Al Auwal.
Type 1 (b,c,d) and Type 2 (a).
Figure 10
Figure 10. Levallois points from Dhofar Nubian Complex sites.
Aybut Al Auwal (c,e,f,k), Aybut Ath Thani (a,b), Mudayy As Sodh (i), Jebel Sanoora (j), TH.173 (d), TH.236 (m), TH.238 (g,h), and TH.258 (h).
Figure 11
Figure 11. Photo of Aybut Ath Thani.
DAP team systematically collects surface material from gridded area with view overlooking Wadi Aybut in background.
Figure 12
Figure 12. Nubian Levallois cores from Aybut Ath Thani.
Type 1 (a,c,d,e) and Type 2 (b).
Figure 13
Figure 13. Retouched tools from Dhofar Nubian Complex sites.
Sidescrapers from Aybut Ath Thani (c) and Mudayy As Sodh (f), endscrapers from Mudayy As Sodh (b,d,e), and notch from Mudayy As Sodh (a).
Figure 14
Figure 14. Nubian Levallois cores from Mudayy As Sodh.
Type 1 (a,c,d) and Type 2 (b).
Figure 15
Figure 15. Nubian Levallois refit from Mudayy As Sodh.
Levallois point (c) and debordant blade (a) conjoin with Nubian Type 1 core (b).
Figure 16
Figure 16. Nubian Levallois refit from Mudayy As Sodh.
Levallois point (a) conjoins with Nubian Type 1 core (b).
Figure 17
Figure 17. Photo of Jebel Sanoora terrace.
DAP team systematically collects surface material from gridded area at edge of terrace. Terrace shows dense chert cover of natural and worked debris.
Figure 18
Figure 18. Nubian Levallois refit from Jebel Sanoora.
Levallois point (a) conjoins with Nubian Type 1 core (b).
Figure 19
Figure 19. Examples of Nubian Levallois refits at Aybut Al Auwal.
Overpassed Levallois blade (a) conjoins with Nubian Type 1 core (b). Distal fragment of overpassed Levallois blade (c) showing prominent distal ridge.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 17 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles

References

    1. Guichard J, Guichard G. The Early and Middle Paleolithic of Nubia: a preliminary report. In: Wendorf F, editor. Contributions to the Prehistory of Nubia. Dallas: Fort Burgwin and Southern Methodist University Press; 1965. pp. 57–116.
    1. Marks AE. The Mousterian industries of Nubia. In: Wendorf F, editor. The Prehistory of Nubia, vol. 1. Dallas: Fort Burgwin and Southern Methodist University Press; 1968. pp. 194–314.
    1. Van Peer P. Makhadma 6, a Nubian complex site. In: Vermeersch PM, editor. Palaeolithic Living Sites in Upper and Middle Egypt. Leuven: Leuven University Press; 2000. pp. 91–103.
    1. Van Peer P, Fullagar R, Stokes S, Bailey RM, Moeyersons J, et al. The Early to Middle Stone Age transition and the emergence of modern human behaviour at site 8-B-11, Sai Island, Sudan. J Hum Evol. 2003;45:187–193. - PubMed
    1. Van Peer P, Vermeersch P. The place of northeast Africa in the early history of modern humans: new data and interpretations on the Middle Stone Age. In: Mellars P, Boyle K, Bar-Yosef O, Stringer C, editors. Rethinking the Human Revolution. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research; 2007. pp. 187–198.

Publication types

Feedback