Out of Africa, the Nile Valley and the Northern Route


Hypotheses on the dispersal patterns of modern humans out of Africa have undergone much change in the past decade, with new ideas on the routes and geographic extent of movements proposed. New data and perspectives from the Nile Valley necessitate reassessment of the role of the Northern Route. Here, fossil evidence and technological strategies followed in the Nile Valley between 200 000 to 300 000 years ago, and its relevance to dispersal patterns are discussed. Most of the sites in the Nile Valley relate to extensive quarrying activities associated with sophisticated logistical strategies. Early Middle Stone Age Sangoan assemblages already show complex adaptive patterns in the exploitation of colorants and hafting of typical core-axes. The MIS 6 Lupemban consisting of non-Levallois systems, symmetrical lanceolate foliate tools and blades from volumetric cores are succeeded by the Early Nubian Complex of the early Last Interglacial. One of the typological elements that sets the early Nubian Complex apart, is triangular or leaf-shaped bifacial foliates, associated with Nubian point production. There are ephemeral traces of occupation in the drier periods of MIS 5, followed by the much more visible Nubian Complex sensu stricto, mainly a MIS 5a phenomenon. Bifacial foliates disappear from the typological inventory, but Nubian points still occur. Around 60 000 years ago technological goals are geared towards increased productivity, as evidenced in the Lower Nile Valley Complex (LNVC) and the Taramsan. The Taramsan is transitional to the Upper Palaeolithic in the Nile Valley and by 40 000 years ago fully Upper Palaeolithic industries occur here. The human fossil remains from Singa, Taramsa 1 and Nazlet Khater contribute valuable perspectives on the phylogenetic history of the Middle and Late Pleistocene populations from North Africa.


Wurz, S., Peer, P. V. (2012): Out of Africa, the Nile Valley and the Northern Route. – In: South African Archaeological Bulletin, Vol. 67(196)

Authors Sarah Wurz and Philip van Peer
Type article
Title Out of Africa, the Nile Valley and the Northern Route
Journal South African Archaeological Bulletin
Year 2012
Volume 67
Number 196
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