Science / Medicine : Evidence Shows Early Man Lived in Sahara

An archeologist working for the U.S. Geological Survey has discovered a wealth of evidence under the Sahara Desert to show that early humans lived in the area 150,000 to 300,000 years ago.

A few test pits already have turned up hundreds of stone tools lying on ancient land surfaces now blanketed by the sand of a desert that has been spreading for thousands of years.

William P. McHugh, an archeological consultant brought in by the Geological Survey, told a meeting of the Society for Africanist Archeologists in America in Phoenix last week that the discoveries, along with other evidence, prove that the Sahara was once a well-watered and forested tropical habitat where bands of Stone Age hunters and gatherers thrived.


The new finds support the supposition that early humans probably lived throughout Africa, even though their bones may not have been preserved. Although many well-known types of stone tools were found, the most dramatic were so-called hand axes. These are chipped stones, typically the size of a hand, in the shape of a flattened tear drop.

“We’ve got some sites where there are so many hand axes I stopped counting after I got to 200. It’s just incredible,” McHugh said.