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date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The Sahara has not always been a desert, but arid episodes have been recurrent. Human populations living there must have been able to deal with an unpredictable environment, a task that not all could perform in all periods. Given this caveat, the immediate questions that may come to mind are ‘who’ succeeded and ‘when’ such accomplishments occurred. This article focuses on North Africa’s crucial role in the development of its regional identities and the spread of anatomically modern humans out of Africa. Modern humans appeared in North Africa around, or slightly after, 200 kya and biological evidence suggests continuity between the makers of the Early MSA and those of the late MSA Aterian complexes. Furthermore, human fossils from Jebel Irhoud show morphological similarities with other remains outside Africa, in particular those from Skhul and Qafzeh, Israel, supporting the hypothesis that these populations were among the authors of the out-of-Africa dispersal.

Keywords: Sahara Desert, modern humans, North Africa, Homo sapiens, Middle Stone Age

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