Oasis

Paradise Lost: Gulf Oasis Was Home to Earliest Humans that Existed Africa – But What Forced them Out?

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Before the Persian Gulf existed, when the last ice age caused the ocean level to drop 90 meters (295 ft) below our current sea level, “100,000 km (62137 miles) of land in this part of the world was exposed for almost 60,000 years.” It created an oasis, that “housed a rich mosaic of freshwater springs, river floodplains, mangrove swamps, lakes, marshes and estuaries.“ A veritable paradise.

Jeffrey Rose, Theresa Howard-Carter, and V. Gordon Childe ​are but a few of the eminent archaeologists over the last 100 years to theorize that this paradise, dubbed the “Gulf Oasis,” was home to some of the earliest humans that had exited Africa. In fact, Jeffrey Rose postulated the idea that this oasis and the people who lived there for tens of thousands of years, was actually “ground zero to the agricultural and urban revolutions found within our ancient past.”

If Jeffery Rose is correct, this ancient landscape may have played an important role in supporting the transition of humans out of the Palaeolithic and into the Neolithic time periods, helping us to expand our understanding of the human story. Unfortunately, we can no longer explore this part of the world, since the oasis that once existed there is now lost to us due to an ocean that has reclaimed it. It is also impossible for us to use maps to explore this landscape, as a highly-detailed map of this area of the world does not exist, or at least to us non-military personnel. 

Farmers in the Neolithic era.

Farmers in the Neolithic era. ( world-mysteries)

Mapping the Gulf Oasis

That is until a grade school teacher decided to explore this oasis to better understand how it supported our evolution during the last 50,000 years. Over the last year, Andrew Dold used the “Path” tool in combination with the elevation tool available in Google Earth to painstakingly recreate the Google Earth data that the program produces so as to create a highly detailed bathymetric map of the eastern side of the gulf oasis in as little as 1 meter (3.28 ft.) increments. Not satisfied with having created a map full of contour lines, the artist took pieces of satellite imagery from around the world and stitched them together in Photoshop, merging them with the bathymetric map that he had created to produce an artistic representation of the exposed landscape our ancient ancestors called home.

Now for the first time we can see a clearer picture of how the lower Shatt-al-Arab had formed a large lake within the Gulf Oasis; a lake that was close in size to that of Lake Ontario, and one that, according to mainstream science, had existed in this part of the world for more than 60,000 years. This extraordinary length of time would have allowed nature to create a unique freshwater ecosystem that could have supported a more sedentary lifestyle for our early ancestors. An idea made possible only by the fact that this lake was one of the largest, most stable sources of fresh water found in this region of the ancient world. A source of water that would have housed many different plants and animals throughout the centuries, and would have drawn all manner of migrating life to its shores from the more arid landscape that surrounded it. Jeffrey Rose has even gone so far as to theorize several locations where humans may have permanently settled in this oasis, as indicated in figure 1.

The Gulf Oasis: 50,000 BCE - 10,000 BC

Figure 1: The Gulf Oasis: 50,000 BCE - 10,000 BCE (Dold. 2016, Lambeck. 1996; Fairbanks, R.G. 1989)

When Was Paradise Lost?

However, as important as this lake was in supporting the agricultural and urban revolutions that Jeffrey Rose proposes, all good things must come to an end. Somewhere in our distant past there came a point when this paradise was lost to our early ancestors. It is self-evident that the ocean eventually displaced these people and forced them to move up and into the Fertile Crescent. So, when did this forced migration occur, and was there an event that could signal the beginning of the end to the way of life that these people had developed?

Using Fairbanks’ and Lambeck’s research on the rising ocean levels over the last 15,000 years, a rough estimate can be drawn to show how fast and in what time frame each meter of ocean rise occurred. Applying this information to the map of the Gulf Oasis Dold had created, it seems that around 11,500 years ago, over the span of a single lifetime, a devastating event did in fact occur, an event that killed this important lake and forced our early ancestors to migrate out of paradise.

Comments

Where can we view your maps larger and in context of modern day geography please?

Andrew Dold's picture

A larger version of this map can be found at my website andrewdold.com. The map illustrates where modern day Oman and Iran exist, as well as providing latitudes and longitudes. This larger version can be found at this link http://www.andrewdold.com/gulf-oasis.html

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