North Africa plays a very significant role in the ancient human evolution. It is a part of the African continent however; the geography of the region makes it an interesting case study for the movement of ancient human population. The Sahara lies in the south and created impediment in traveling to and from the southern region. Further, being part of the Mediterranean region, the sea too must have been a great barrier to interactions between other humans.
A team of researchers were able to sequence the DNA found from individual remains in Morocco, which date approximately 15,000 years ago. Interestingly these studies show that these individuals genetic heritage matched or were similar to that of Ancient Levantine Natufians. These also had some similarities to an uncharacterized sub-Saharan African lineage, the modern West African seem to be more genetically close to them.
A burial site in Grotte des Pigeons near Taforalt in Morocco, had remains of yet another lineage, that of Iberomaurusian culture. Further in 2008, shells found in the Sahara region that were 120,000 year old suggest that these ware once river corridors, which may have supported the human migration.
The Levantine Natufians were hunter gatherers. Study shows that the Natufian culture existed from approximately 12500 to 9500 BC in Levant region of Eastern Mediterranean. Its culture was quite unique as these human were sedentary or semi-sedentary in nature even before an introduction to agriculture. The study thus points to the fact that humans were interacting more with each other than previously predicted.
By: Madhuchanda Saxena