This news of the genetics of Mota man proving that Middle Eastern farmers migrated into Africa 4,500 years ago has me scratching my head. Didn’t we already know that? 4,500 years ago was during the Fourth (!) Dynasty of Egypt. 4,500 years ago is historical times, even if the record is a bit sparser. The Nature article states:
Radiocarbon dating suggested that the man died around 4,500 years ago — before the proposed time of the Eurasian migrations and the advent of agriculture in eastern Africa.
Who proposed that time? Even without Mota man, it sounds weird. Agriculture by their own estimate arose 9,000 years ago (and I’m betting more like 13,000 years ago) and to think that it took several thousand years to reach East Africa from the Middle East, when there clearly was already farming in Egypt 4,500 years ago is peculiar. Pyramids were being built!
Hell, what about Nubia? Kerma culture was flourishing. Sudan is next door to Kenya. They certainly weren’t hunter-gatherers.
Better yet… remember the Land of Punt?! It was to the southeast of Egypt. Its exact location has yet to be nailed down, but obviously it did exist and it wouldn’t be far removed from Mota Cave. When was the first recorded trading expedition between Egypt and Punt? Yep…. 2,500 BC. How on earth would Egyptians be cruising up and down the Red Sea for luxury items trade with Stone Age hunter-gatherers? Agriculture penetrated Africa well before 4,500 years ago.
In stumbling around sites looking for the obvious proof, this article about there being a mega-drought in Egypt 4,200 years ago, which closed the era of the Old Kingdom. It also mentions:
Similarly, pollen and charcoal evidence recorded two other large droughts: one that occurred some 5,000 to 5,500 years ago and another that occurred around 3,000 years ago.
These events are also recorded in human history — the first one started some 5,000 years ago when the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt occurred and the Uruk Kingdom in modern Iraq collapsed. The second event, some 3,000 years ago, took place in the eastern Mediterranean and is associated with the fall of the Ugarit Kingdom and famines in the Babylonian and Syrian Kingdoms.
Those were some pretty good reasons for people to move around a lot. I’m still convinced agriculture already existed in East Africa prior to 4,500 years ago, but perhaps that mega-drought 5,000 years ago is where the admixture from the Middle East came from. There very well could be another mega-drought prior to that one that pressured migrations even earlier.