"Lake Zihor - Paleoenvironment of the Negev during 1.6 MA"

Currently, limited evidence is available regarding the environmental settings during the earliest phase of the arrival of hominins from Africa into the Levantine corridor (= the gateway area). Early-Pleistocene lacustrine sediments were exposed in the Zihor Basin, located at the extreme arid southern Negev Desert, Israel.

The Zihor Basin sediment deposits indicate a very different hydrological and climatological environment compared to modern conditions, with the past characterized by greater water availability. According to previous research, the body of water (= Lake Zihor) persisted for approximately 100,000 years at ca. 1.6 million years ago. The area encompasses early-Pleistocene human artifacts which are contemporaneous to the existence of the lake.

Our research aims to reconstruct, for the first time, the environmental conditions of this gateway area, which has existed as a terrestrial desert barrier for human spread during much of the Pleistocene. Preliminary palynological investigation of eight samples indicates that pollen was relatively well preserved in Lake Zihor lacustrine sediments. In this study, we propose to conduct a detailed pollen investigation to reconstruct the unique environmental period associated with Lake Zihor and the hydrological mechanism behind it, which created a ‘climatic window’ for early hominin dispersal out of Africa.

The research is being conducted by Inbar Fridman, an M.A. student at Tel Aviv University, with the collaboration of Hanan Ginat