A project undertaken by Max Planck researchers revealed that the Arabian Peninsula played a significant role in prehistoric evolution of human civilizations. The findings provide proof to theories that there was once a period in human prehistory that the Arabian region was once a green and fertile region before its lands became arid and barren.
More than a Decade of Research Unraveled Proof of a Green Arabian Peninsula
Prior to this new discovery, the hyper-arid desert of the Arabian Peninsula was widely believed to be inhospitable to human and animal existence; making the region a less likely place to investigate if for purposes of understanding human prehistory.
The perception changed when over the last decade, research studies conducted by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH), in collaboration with the Saudi Ministry of Culture. Saudi Geological Survey, King Saud University, together with UK and Australian institutions, revealed that it was not always the case.The fossils and footprints discovered in related expeditions made it apparent that during the past million years, the conditions in Arabia were not always arid but had in fact fluctuated significantly.
One of the lead authors of the study, Richard Clark-Wilson of the Royal Holloway, said that based on their study of archaeological and fossil records, it was during the periods of climate upswing that prehistoric humans and animals arrived to populate the Arabian region’s interior. Clark-Wilson explained that based on examinations of fossilized human and animal footprints,
”There were certain times in the past that the deserts dominating the peninsula’s interior had transformed into vast greenlands supported by permanent freshwater rivers and lakes.”
The findings supported the theory that human movements went beyond Africa and the Levant, and had extended into the northern Arabian region. Michael Petraglia of MPI-SHH, who has been involved with the research program for more than a decade, said they were able to identify the fossilized footprints as belonging to horses, camels and elephants. It was also noted that these large animals were in existence in the region, at the time when they went extinct in the Levant region 400 hundred years earlier.
The revelations indicated that humans who were then moving between Eurasia and Africa, had found the northern Arabian peninsula an attractive place to inhabit.