Saturday, April 14, 2012

High Desert Abydos: 70,000 years of Desolation

Excerpt from paper Paleolithic Abydos (Link):

"[T]he surface context of the Egyptian high desert has a near absence of post-Paleolithic cultural disturbances. In part this results from prevailing arid to hyper-arid conditions following the marine isotope stage 5 pluvial event, which peaked around 120,000 years ago (e.g., Crombie et al. 1997; Kleindeinst et al. in press; Smith et al. 2004; Sultan et al. 1997; Wendorf et al. 1993). Occasional dates on sediments indicating humid conditions in central and southern Egypt occur around 70–80 kyr (e.g., Crombie et al. 1997; Szabo et al. 1995), and again at 40–50 kyr (Churcher et al. 1999; Hamdan 2000; Smith et al. 2004), but the only well-recognized younger pluvial phase is that of the early Holocene (e.g., Brookes 1989; Haynes 2001; Hoelzmann et al. 2000; Nicoll 2001). This climatic amelioration would have allowed incursions into the high desert near seasonal playas, and there is evidence of a much later small Roman presence in limited areas of the high desert, as well as a few Coptic monastic cells and trails. By and large, however, human presence in the high desert was extremely limited for the last 70,000 years."

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