Ancient Humans Hid Inside Lava Chamber For 10,000 Years, Study Says


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
Font Size:

A study published Wednesday argued that early humans hid inside of lava tube caves in Saudi Arabia for up to 10,000 years.

In what is described as a first-of-its-kind study, published in the journal PLOS One, researchers found that ancient humans housed themselves and their livestock inside caves made from volcanic activity on and off for potentially up to 10,000 years. Satellite and fossil data suggest that those living on the Arabian Peninsula were not always faced with desert conditions.

The region went through periods of lush greenery and the formation of lakes, which likely drew humans and animals from all over Africa and western Asia to the region, Nature described. Most of the artifacts of our past in Saudi Arabia have been destroyed by weathering and scorching heat. But more recent discoveries are filling out our understanding of our ancestors from the region.

In 2018, an 88,000-year-old finger bone, the oldest human fossil found outside of Africa, was discovered in the Saudi Arabian desert, Nature noted. Two years later, footprints beside a lakeshore were dated to 120,000 years.

These discoveries and more are what prompted the most recent research team to head into the caves beneath Harrat Khaybar, which is covered in volcanic craters and places to hide. (RELATED: Ancient Tunnels Finally Revealed To The World. What Do They Mean?)

Some 600 animal and human bones were pulled from near the entrance of one cave, along with 44 stone tool fragments dating back roughly 10,000 years. The oldest human bone fragments are currently dated to around 7,000 years ago.

Rock art in the region depicts goats and sheep, suggesting these caves were used by humans sporadically as they migrated through the area. It’s a practice still used by farmers in the region today, who descend into the caves to find water and escape the heat. (RELATED: ‘Magical’ Artifacts Discovered Along Ancient Pilgrimage Route)

There are still so many areas within the caves that are unexplored. Who knows what scientists might find next!