Enzel et al. (2015) reassess sedimentary records of Early to Mid-Holocene lake sites in Arabia based on a reinterpretation of published multiproxy data and a qualitative analysis of satellite imagery. The authors conclude that these sites represent palaeo-wetland environments rather than palaeolakes and that the majority of the Arabian Peninsula experienced no or, if at all, only a very minor increase of rainfall at that time mainly due to eastward expansion of the East African Summer Monsoon. We disagree with their reassessment and identify several cases where unequivocal evidence for early Late Pleistocene and Early to Mid-Holocene perennial lake environments in Arabia, lasting for centuries to millennia, was neglected by Enzel et al. (2015). Here we summarize findings which indicate the presence of lakes from the sites of Jubbah, Tayma, Mundafan (all Saudi Arabia), Wahalah, Awafi (both UAE), and the Wahiba Sands (Oman), supported by evidence including occurrence of barnacle colonies in living position, remnant bioclastic shoreline deposits, undisturbed varve formation, shallowing-up lacustrine sequences, various aquatic freshwater, brackish and saline micro- and macrofossils, such as ichnofaunal remains, which are the result of prolonged field-based research. While the precise depth, hydrology and ecology of these water bodies is still not entirely resolved, their perennial nature is indicative of a markedly increased precipitation regime, which, in
combination with more abundant groundwater and increased spring outflow in terminal basins fed by charged aquifers, was sufficient to overcome evaporative losses. The palaeolakes’ influence on sustaining prehistoric populations is corroborated by the presence of rich archaeological evidence.
Engel, MMatter, AParker, AGParton, APetraglia, MDPreston, GWPreusser, F
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences\Department of Social Sciences
Year of publication: 2016Date of RADAR deposit: 2016-11-11
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