Inaugural Lecture of Professor Nick Drake
'Saharan climate change and its role in human dispersal out of Africa'
Evidence suggests that sub-Saharan Africa is at the centre of human evolution and understanding routes of dispersal “out of Africa” is thus important. The Sahara Desert is considered by many to be an obstacle to these dispersals. Here evidence is provided that shows that it was not an effective barrier and indicates how both animals and humans populated it during past humid phases. Dispersal was possible because during humid periods the region contained a series of linked lakes and rivers comprising a large interlinked waterway, channeling water, animals and humans into and across the Sahara, thus facilitating these dispersals. This system was last active between 5 and 11 thousand years ago but dating of lake sediments show that the “green Sahara” also existed during the last interglacial (∼125 ka) and provided green corridors that could have formed dispersal routes at a likely time for the migration of humans out of Africa. The archaeological evidence for such a dispersal is presented.
Nick Drake has research interests in remote sensing, GIS, geomorphology, geoarchaeology and environmental change. He specialises in applying expertise in these areas to semi-arid and arid environments. His research interests in remote sensing involve both theoretical and practical aspects while research in GIS includes mapping desert paleohydrology. His interests in environmental change and geoarchaeology assimilates much of the above mentioned expertise by employing remote sensing and GIS to locate geomorphological sites of likely geoarchaeological interest and investigating them using field and laboratory methods in order to determine their paleaeo-environmental and archaeological significance. This research is currently concentrating on past human occupation and climate change in the Sahara and Arabia.
Date and Time
Edmund J Safra Lecture Theatre, King's Building, Strand Campus, Strand, King's College London