African Archaeological Review

, Volume 23, Issue 1–2, pp 5–30 | Cite as

The Bab al Mandab vs the Nile-Levant: An Appraisal of the Two Dispersal Routes for Early Modern Humans Out of Africa

  • Amanuel BeyinEmail author
Original Paper


There is a growing convergence of paleontological, archaeological and genetic evidence for the African origin of modern humans and their successive dispersals. However, there is disagreement about the route or routes taken by early humans during their migration out of Africa. This article examines the Middle Paleolithic/Middle Stone Age archaeological evidence from the Horn of Africa, the Nile Valley/eastern Sahara, the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant, and assesses their relevance to this question. Specific reduction techniques and typological variables are used to compare industries across these regions. This study shows that there are more evident technological and typological similarities among assemblages from the Horn, the Nile Valley and Arabia than between any of these regions and the Levant.

Il y a plusieurs preuves paléontologiques, archéologiques et génétiques qui supportes une origine Africaine pour l’Homme moderne, et qui indiques les migrations de l’Homme hors de ce continent. Cependant, les parcours précis suivis par ces anciennes populations en route pour l’Europe et l’Asie ne sont pas évidents. Cette étude a comme but d’examiner les preuves archéologiques du Paléolithique moyen et de l’Âge de la Pierre moyen (MSA) de la corne de l’Afrique, la vallée du Nile, le desert Sahara de l’est, la péninsule Arabe, et du Moyen Orient pour déterminer les contributions de ces régions à la migration de l’Homme modern hors de l’Afrique. Les techniques de réduction de pierre et quelques données typologiques sont utilisées pour comparer les ensembles lithiques des régions traversés par la Route du Nord et la Route du Sud. Si les résultats de ces comparaisons démontrent que les données typologiques et les techniques de réduction sont semblables entre les régions d’un des parcours, nous pourrons inférer qu’il existait dans le passé soit un lien culturel entre ces régions, ou des parallèles dans le comportement de ces peuples anciens. Les résultats de cette étude démontrent qu’il y a plus de resemblances avec les techniques de réduction et les données typologiques dans les ensembles lithiques de la corne de l’Afrique, la vallée du Nile, et la pénisule Arabe comparés aux ensembles du Moyen Orient, ce qui soutien l’hypothèse d’une migration par la Route du Sud.


Arabian Peninsula Horn of Africa Levant Middle Stone Age/Middle Paleolithic Nile Valley Northern Route Southern Route 



Thanks to the Leakey Foundation and the Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences (IDPAS) at Stony Brook University for financial and academic support to pursue my graduate studies. I am mostly grateful to my advisor Dr. John Shea and colleagues Matthew Sisk, Danielle Royer and Jason Kamilar for their substantial comments on the draft. I extend my gratitude to the editor, Prof. Fekri Hassan for the helpful comments and warm welcome of my paper for publication.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological SciencesState University of New York at Stony BrookStony BrookUSA

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