Here is a palaeoenvironmental paper that is complementary to the earlier reports on the Abdur Reef (Acheulean/MSA) finds, made along the Eritrean coast (see below for some references)
Bruggeman, J. Henrich, Richard T. Buffler, Mireille M. M. Guillaume, Robert C. Walter, Rudo von Cosel, Berhane N. Ghebretensae and Seife M. Berhe. 2004. Stratigraphy, palaeoenvironments and model for the deposition of the Abdur Reef Limestone: context for an important archaeological site from the last interglacial on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Stone tools discovered within uplifted marine terraces along the Red Sea coast of Eritrea at the Abdur Archaeological Site, dated to 125±7 ka (the last interglacial, marine isotope stage 5e), show that early humans occupied coastal areas by this time [Walter et al. (2000) Nature 405, 65–69]. In the present paper the stratigraphy, facies types and faunal composition from 25 measured sections of the tool-bearing Abdur Reef Limestone (ARL) are documented in detail and interpreted to provide a palaeoenvironmental context for the stone artefacts and a model for the deposition of the ARL. The ARL represents a complex marine terrace sequence. Erosional surfaces indicative of interrupted sedimentation are locally observed at two levels within the ARL. They subdivide the complex into three subunits, named 5e1, 5e2, and 5e3, representing different stages of the marine isotope stage 5e sea level highstand, comprising six depositional phases (I–VI) of the ARL. Subunit 5e1 begins with the initial transgression of the 5e sea level highstand leading to the deposition of widespread lag gravels on which rich oyster beds developed in shallow water (phase I). It further records rapid deepening accompanied by the deposition of low-energy carbonates with scarce corals (phase II), and later shoaling characterised by local development of a fringing reef tract in a sedimented environment (phase III). Subunit 5e1 is capped locally by a burrowed hardground that is laterally equivalent to depositional discontinuities, interpreted as caused by a globally recognised mid-5e sea level low stand (phase IV). Extensive reef build-up in response to sea level rise and improved conditions for coral growth characterises subunit 5e2 (phase V). A possible second sea level drop during the 5e highstand is inferred from the oyster-encrusted upper surface of subunit 5e2. Subunit 5e3 encompasses restricted coral patches that developed on the upper surface of the underlying subunit during the last stage of the 5e marine high stand (phase VI). Two different toolkits are found in the ARL. One consists of bifacial hand axes and cores of the Acheulian industry, typically associated with the oyster beds encrusted on the transgressive lag deposits. The other consists of Middle Stone Age (MSA)-type obsidian flakes and blades, mainly found in the nearshore and beach environments alongside debris from marine invertebrates and large land mammals. The distribution of these tools suggests that foraging activities of early humans varied with environmental setting. The Abdur Archaeological Site represents a late example of the Acheulian/MSA transition, seen as a benchmark for early modern human behaviour, and is, to date, the earliest well-dated example of early human adaptation to marine food resources.
Author Keywords: Pleistocene; coral reefs; sea level change; human evolution; stone tools; palaeoecology
Access to the full article is through HERE
WALTER, ROBERT C., RICHARD T. BUFFLER, J. HENRICH BRUGGEMANN, MIREILLE M. M. GUILLAUME, SEIFE M. BERHE, BERHANE NEGASSI, YOSEPH LIBSEKAL, HAI CHENG, R. LAWRENCE EDWARDS, RUDO VON COSEL, DIDIER NÉRAUDEAU, and MARIO GAGNON. 2000. Early human occupation of the Red Sea coast of Eritrea during the last interglacial. Nature 405(6782): 65-69.
The geographical origin of modern humans is the subject of ongoing scientific debate. The 'multiregional evolution' hypothesis argues that modern humans evolved semi-independently in Europe, Asia and Africa between 100,000 and 40,000 years ago, whereas the 'out of Africa' hypothesis contends that modern humans evolved in Africa between 200 and 100 kyr ago, migrating to Eurasia at some later time. Direct palaeontological, archaeological and biological evidence is necessary to resolve this debate. Here we report the discovery of early Middle Stone Age artefacts in an emerged reef terrace on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea, which we date to the last interglacial (about 125 kyr ago) using U–Th mass spectrometry techniques on fossil corals. The geological setting of these artefacts shows that early humans occupied coastal areas and exploited near-shore marine food resources in East Africa by this time. Together with similar, tentatively dated discoveries from South Africa this is the earliest well-dated evidence for human adaptation to a coastal marine environment, heralding an expansion in the range and complexity of human behaviour from one end of Africa to the other. This new, widespread adaptive strategy may, in part, signal the onset of modern human behaviour, which supports an African origin for modern humans by 125 kyr ago.
for access to the full paper.
Note that this same issue also has the following commentary:
Chris Stringer. 2004. Palaeoanthropology: Coasting out of Africa. Nature 405(6782): 24.
According to a widely accepted view, modern humans originated in Africa. But by which route did they start to migrate from the continent and spread more widely? Recovery of artefacts from a site on the Red Sea, dating to 125,000 years ago, implies that modern humans may have dispersed along the coasts.
Some of the earlier material covering the Abdur Reef finds can be found HERE