Projects People

Understanding the role of the Sahara in our evolutionary history is a challenge. Physically part of Africa and bordering the Mediterranean, it represents the western part of a major desert belt that extends across Arabia to north-western India. This desert belt constrained the movement of animals and people in the past, as it continues to do so today. Nevertheless, the Sahara extreme climate oscillates between periods of complete scarcity and sheer abundance. When, how, to whom and for how long the latter became opportunities for population expansions are the core questions asked by DESERT PASTS.

DESERT PASTS is a research programme that aims at establishing the role of the Sahara in shaping human evolution in the Pleistocene by determining the time, economy and circumstances of population exchange between sub-Saharan Africa and the Mediterranean world.

DESERT PASTS is a forum for the integration of research projects and information about prehistory and human evolution of the Sahara. It concerns itself with the record from the Pleistocene – the last 2 million years of our past, a record derived from archaeological, palaeo-anthropological, ecological and genetic research.


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