Thursday, August 14, 2008

In the Sahara, Stone Age Graves From Greener Days
When Paul C. Sereno went hunting dinosaur bones in the Sahara, his career took a sharp turn from paleontology to archaeology. The expedition found what has proved to be the largest known graveyard of Stone Age people who lived there when the desert was green.

The first traces of pottery, stone tools and human skeletons were discovered eight years ago at a site in the southern Sahara, in Niger. After preliminary research, Dr. Sereno, a University of Chicago scientist who had previously uncovered remains of the dinosaur Nigersaurus there, organized an international team of archaeologists to investigate what had been a lakeside hunting and fishing settlement for the better part of 5,000 years, originating some 10,000 years ago.

Is this guy that good or just lucky??? Probably some of both. At any rate, excellent find. As the article notes, it's been known for a long time that much of the Sahara was relatively hospitable for much of the Early Holocene, and some (Wendorf et al.) have argued that cattle were first domesticated there.

Full report is here. I just skimmed the abstract, but it seems pretty well dated. I'll be interested to see if there was anything other than graves excavated (habitations).