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"What makes this so exciting is that the answer is a scenario almost never considered." Arabian artifacts The international team of archaeologists and geologists made their discovery in the Dhofar Mountains of southern Oman, nestled in the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.
"For a while, South Arabia became a verdant paradise rich in resources — large game, plentiful fresh water, and high-quality flint with which to make stone tools," Rose said.Oddly, these sites are located far inland, away from the coasts."After a decade of searching in southern Arabia for some clue that might help us understand early human expansion, at long last we've found the smoking gun of their exit from Africa," said lead researcher Jeffrey Rose, a paleolithic archaeologist at the University of Birmingham in England.Subsequent field work turned up dozens of sites with similar artifacts.Using a technique known as optically stimulated luminescence dating, which measures the minute amount of light long-buried objects can emit, to see how long they have been interred, the researchers estimate the artifacts are about 106,000 years old, exactly what one might expect from Nubian Middle Stone Age artifacts and far earlier than conventional dates for the exodus from Africa."It's all just incredibly exciting," Rose said. Finding so much evidence of life in what is now a relatively barren desert supports the importance of field work, according to the researchers.
"Here we have an example of the disconnect between theoretical models versus real evidence on the ground," Marks said.
On the last day of the research team's 2010 field season, the scientists went to the final place on their list, a site on a hot, windy, dry plateau near a river channel that was strewn with stone artifacts.
Such artifacts are common in Arabia, but until now the ones seen were usually relatively young in age.
[Photos: Our Closest Human Ancestor] It remains a mystery as to how early modern humans from Africa crossed the Red Sea, since they did not appear to enter the Arabian Peninsula from the north, through the Sinai Peninsula, Rose explained.
"Back then, there was no land bridge in the south of Arabia, but the sea level might not have been that low," he said. Choi is a contributing writer for Live Science and
The stone artifacts found in Oman were likely made by striking flakes off flint, leading to distinctive triangular shapes.