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Humans thrived in South Africa through the Toba eruption about 74,000 years ago

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Approximately 74 thousand years ago (ka), the Toba caldera erupted in Sumatra. Since the magnitude of this eruption was first established, its effects on climate, environment and humans have been debated1. Here we describe the discovery of microscopic glass shards characteristic of the Youngest Toba Tuff—ashfall from the Toba eruption—in two archaeological sites on the south coast of South Africa, a region in which there is evidence for early human behavioural complexity. An independently derived dating model supports a date of approximately 74 ka for the sediments containing the Youngest Toba Tuff glass shards. By defining the input of shards at both sites, which are located nine kilometres apart, we are able to establish a close temporal correlation between them. Our high-resolution excavation and sampling technique enable exact comparisons between the input of Youngest Toba Tuff glass shards and the evidence for human occupation. Humans in this region thrived through the Toba event and the ensuing full glacial conditions, perhaps as a combined result of the uniquely rich resource base of the region and fully evolved modern human adaptation.

Authors


  •   Smith, Eugene (external author)
  •   Jacobs, Zenobia
  •   Johnsen, Racheal (external author)
  •   Ren, Minghua (external author)
  •   Fisher, Erich C. (external author)
  •   Oestmo, Simen (external author)
  •   Wilkins, Jayne (external author)
  •   Harris, Jacob (external author)
  •   Karkanas, Panagiotis (external author)
  •   Fitch, Shelby (external author)
  •   Ciravolo, Amber (external author)
  •   Keenan, Deborah (external author)
  •   Cleghorn, Naomi (external author)
  •   Lane, Christine (external author)
  •   Matthews, T (external author)
  •   Marean, Curtis W. (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2018

Published In


Citation


  • Smith, E. I., Jacobs, Z., Johnsen, R., Ren, M., Fisher, E. C., Oestmo, S., Wilkins, J., Harris, J. A., Karkanas, P., Fitch, S., Ciravolo, A., Keenan, D., Cleghorn, N., Lane, C. S., Matthews, T. & Marean, C. W. (2018). Humans thrived in South Africa through the Toba eruption about 74,000 years ago. Nature, 555 (7697), 511-515.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85044257090

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers/5330

Number Of Pages


  • 4

Start Page


  • 511

End Page


  • 515

Volume


  • 555

Issue


  • 7697

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom

Abstract


  • Approximately 74 thousand years ago (ka), the Toba caldera erupted in Sumatra. Since the magnitude of this eruption was first established, its effects on climate, environment and humans have been debated1. Here we describe the discovery of microscopic glass shards characteristic of the Youngest Toba Tuff—ashfall from the Toba eruption—in two archaeological sites on the south coast of South Africa, a region in which there is evidence for early human behavioural complexity. An independently derived dating model supports a date of approximately 74 ka for the sediments containing the Youngest Toba Tuff glass shards. By defining the input of shards at both sites, which are located nine kilometres apart, we are able to establish a close temporal correlation between them. Our high-resolution excavation and sampling technique enable exact comparisons between the input of Youngest Toba Tuff glass shards and the evidence for human occupation. Humans in this region thrived through the Toba event and the ensuing full glacial conditions, perhaps as a combined result of the uniquely rich resource base of the region and fully evolved modern human adaptation.

Authors


  •   Smith, Eugene (external author)
  •   Jacobs, Zenobia
  •   Johnsen, Racheal (external author)
  •   Ren, Minghua (external author)
  •   Fisher, Erich C. (external author)
  •   Oestmo, Simen (external author)
  •   Wilkins, Jayne (external author)
  •   Harris, Jacob (external author)
  •   Karkanas, Panagiotis (external author)
  •   Fitch, Shelby (external author)
  •   Ciravolo, Amber (external author)
  •   Keenan, Deborah (external author)
  •   Cleghorn, Naomi (external author)
  •   Lane, Christine (external author)
  •   Matthews, T (external author)
  •   Marean, Curtis W. (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2018

Published In


Citation


  • Smith, E. I., Jacobs, Z., Johnsen, R., Ren, M., Fisher, E. C., Oestmo, S., Wilkins, J., Harris, J. A., Karkanas, P., Fitch, S., Ciravolo, A., Keenan, D., Cleghorn, N., Lane, C. S., Matthews, T. & Marean, C. W. (2018). Humans thrived in South Africa through the Toba eruption about 74,000 years ago. Nature, 555 (7697), 511-515.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85044257090

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers/5330

Number Of Pages


  • 4

Start Page


  • 511

End Page


  • 515

Volume


  • 555

Issue


  • 7697

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom