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Old 08-15-2008, 08:38 AM
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Prehistoric Sahara

Archaeologists get a glimpse of life in a Sahara Eden
Green Sahara

Archaeologist Helene Jousse holds up a belly plate from a soft-shelled turtle found in a Tenerian garbage dump. Scientists uncover skeletons thought to be as old as 10,000 years, when monsoon rains created a 'green Sahara.'
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

For thousands of years, it had lain unheeded in the most desolate section of the Sahara, surrounded by the bones of hippos, giraffes and other creatures typically found in the jungle.

A chance discovery by a team of American scientists has led to the unearthing of a Stone Age cemetery that is providing the first glimpses of what life was like during the still-mysterious period when monsoons brought rain to the desert and created the "green Sahara."

The more than 200 graves that have been explored so far indicate that, beginning 10,000 years ago, two populations lived on the shores of a massive lake, separated by a 1,000-year period during which the lake dried up.

Among the scientists' most surprising discoveries has been a poignant burial tableau of a woman and two children with fingers intertwined, a find that is putting a surprisingly human face on the little-known people who enjoyed a brief visit to Eden in what is normally one of the most forbidding places on Earth.

The first to settle the area was a group of tall, powerfully built hunters, gatherers and fishermen called the Kiffian, University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno said at a news conference Thursday.

The group that followed the Kiffian was a physically smaller band of pastoralists called the Tenerian, who relied on fishing and hunting but also herded cattle, he said.

"They've managed to find these people," said archaeologist Anne Haour of the University of East Anglia in Britain, who was not involved in the research. "We've always suspected something was going on, but this is the first time it has been properly documented."

In addition to the graves, researchers found a massive collection of the remains of meals, tools, pots and other artifacts -- the detritus of everyday life.

"This is a real find . . . for a time period that is not very well documented in that part of the world," said archaeologist Kathy Schick of Indiana University's Stone Age Institute. "It's just a gold mine of information."

The new findings were published Thursday in the online journal PLoS One and in the September issue of National Geographic magazine.

more at:,0,583067.story
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Old 08-15-2008, 11:01 AM
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interesting. thanks
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