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Africa-Arabia Connections and Geo-Archaeological Exploration in the Southern Red Sea: Preliminary Results and Wider Significance

  • Geoffrey N. BaileyEmail author
  • Dimitris Sakellariou
  • Abdullah Alsharekh
  • Salem Al Nomani
  • Maud Devès
  • Panos Georgiou
  • Manolis Kallergis
  • Stefanos Kalogirou
  • Leonidas Manousakis
  • Prokopis Mantopoulos
  • Matt Meredith-Williams
  • Garry Momber
  • Ioannis Morfis
  • Ioannis Pampidis
  • Ioannis Panagiotopoulos
  • Panagiotis Renieris
  • Grigoris Rousakis
  • Vasilis Stasinos
  • Spyros Stavrakakis
Chapter
Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 20)

Abstract

We report on a preliminary exploration of the submerged landscapes in the Saudi Arabian sector of the southern Red Sea aboard the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) Research Vessel, AEGAEO, in May–June 2013. The survey sampled areas of the continental shelf down to the shelf margin at ~130 m depth in the vicinity of the Farasan Islands and combined high resolution acoustic techniques with sediment coring to reconstruct features of the now-submerged landscape of potential archaeological significance, including geological structure, topography, palaeoenvironment, and sea-level change. The region is currently of wide interest and significance: to archaeologists because it is currently regarded as one of the primary pathways of dispersal for early human populations expanding out of Africa during the Pleistocene, in which the extensive but now-submerged shelf region may have played a key role; and to marine geoscientists because the Red Sea offers unusual opportunities as a ‘laboratory’ for investigating Pleistocene sea-level change. Preliminary results indicate that the submerged landscape was characterised by a complex topography with fault-bounded valleys and deep basins, some of which may have hosted, at least intermittently, fresh water during periods of lowered sea level.

Keywords

Farasan Islands Continental Shelf Evaporites Last Glacial Maximum Sea-Level Rise Acoustic Survey Homo sapiens 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) for permission to undertake fieldwork, and the President, HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin AbdulAziz al Saud, Vice-President, Professor Ali Al-Ghassan, and the Director General, Jamal al Omar, for their support. We also thank HRH Crown Prince Salman bin Abul Aziz Al Saud and the Department of General Survey of the Ministry of Defense for permission to undertake the cruise of R/V AEGAEO. We also thank Lt Fahad Al Shwish, Observer from the Hydrographic Department of the Saudi Ministry of Defense, for his support and valuable assistance in overcoming unexpected logistical difficulties during the cruise, and Captain Theodoros Kanakaris and the crew of R/V AEGAEO for their untiring efforts to ensure the smooth running of the scientific operation during the offshore survey work. The research is funded by the European Research Council through Advanced Grant 269586 DISPERSE under the ‘Ideas’ Specific Programme of the Seventh Framework Programme. This is DISPERSE contribution no. 35.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey N. Bailey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dimitris Sakellariou
    • 6
  • Abdullah Alsharekh
    • 3
  • Salem Al Nomani
    • 4
  • Maud Devès
    • 5
  • Panos Georgiou
    • 2
  • Manolis Kallergis
    • 2
  • Stefanos Kalogirou
    • 2
  • Leonidas Manousakis
    • 2
  • Prokopis Mantopoulos
    • 2
  • Matt Meredith-Williams
    • 1
  • Garry Momber
    • 1
  • Ioannis Morfis
    • 2
  • Ioannis Pampidis
    • 2
  • Ioannis Panagiotopoulos
    • 2
  • Panagiotis Renieris
    • 2
  • Grigoris Rousakis
    • 2
  • Vasilis Stasinos
    • 2
  • Spyros Stavrakakis
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of York, the King’s ManorYorkUK
  2. 2.Hellenic Centre for Marine ResearchAnavyssosGreece
  3. 3.Department of ArchaeologyKing Saud UniversityRiyadhKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  4. 4.Saudi Geological SurveyJeddahKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  5. 5.Institut de Physique du Globe de ParisParis Cedex 05France
  6. 6.Institute of Oceanography, Hellenic Centre for Marine ResearchAthensGreece

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