What today is a barren desert in Azraq, NW Jordan was once a thriving wetland, teeming with life—a true oasis. Azraq, as part of the Levantine corridor, lies at the crossroads between the Eurasian and African continents. Over the millennia, Azraq has borne witness to multiple migrations of early human ancestors, including Homo erectus and Neandertals, many of whom left behind clues about their ways of life in an often challenging environment. One particularly rich archaeological locale is the 250,000-year-old Shishan Marsh site in southern Azraq. By studying the inhabitants’ stone tools, including a detailed analysis of the oldest identifiable protein residues in the world, and the diverse strategies they used to hunt and scavenge their prey, archaeologists have concluded that these early humans were surprisingly sophisticated technologically, socially and cognitively.
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