Coasting Out of Africa

Paleolithic Investigation of the Red Sea Basin

In summer 2017, Dr. Beyin launched an exciting collaborative project on the Red Sea coast of the Sudan.

The launching of this pioneering project (funded by NSF) was aimed at finding Paleolithic sites that can inform us about hominin (early human) adaptations in the western periphery of the Red Sea (WPRS). The research area is north of the Eritrean coastal stretch where Beyin’s team had previously recorded several Paleolithic sites. The WPRS occupies a pivotal location for assessing the routes early humans took during their expansion out of Africa. However, the region had not seen adequate research in the past, hindering detailed assessment of its contribution to hominin survival and dispersal. In its first season, the project documented five sites and numerous low-density lithic scatters on diverse landscape settings. The most conspicuous and widespread finds discovered during the pilot survey were handaxes (bifaces) characteristic of the Acheulean technocomplex. Other finds include points, scrapers, and flake blanks and cores referable to the Nubian and centripetal Levallois methods.

At the outset, the evidence provides from the pilot exploration provides a baseline for successive hominin occupations of the WPRS during the Pleistocene. In a broader theoretical context, this project provides an exceptional window into larger questions regarding hominin biogeography during the prevailing Pleistocene climatic conditions, specifically regarding the range of habitats hominins exploited prior and during their expansion out of Africa. The WPRS presents a mosaic of habitats in which to examine the role of coastal as well as tectonically active landscapes in stimulating hominin evolution, adaptations and dispersals. Moreover, the finds from this project will bridge current gaps between the paleoanthropological records of eastern Africa, Arabia and the Levant.

Dr. Beyin’s team has recently submitted three grant proposals (to the Wenner-Gren, Leakey and National Science Foundations) to continue investigating the sites recorded by the pilot survey.


Evolutionary Anthropology

Research Archive

Map of research Area

Site inventory and provenience

Lithic Artifacts

Geological features

Geochronology datasets

Public outreach Presentations

NCAM flyer


U.S. National Science Foundation, grant# BCS-1400473

The National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, Sudan

Dr. Abdel Rahman Ali, Dr. AlHassan Ahmed, Mr. Zakiedin Mahmoud, Mr. Madibbo Alhadi, and several community representatives from Agig, Tokar and Khor Baraka.

Senior Project Members


Role  and core expertise

Primary Institution

Amanuel Beyin

PI, archaeology, lithic analysis, GIS


University of Louisville, USA


Parth R. Chauhan

co-PI, archaeology, lithic analysis, geoarchaeology

Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, India

Lewis Owen

Geomorphology, geochronology


University of Cincinnati, USA


Kevin Uno (KU)

Paleoenvironment, stable isotope geochemistry

Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, USA

Ahmed Nassr (AN)

Archaeology, lithics, local liaison


University of Al-Nilean, Sudan


Tsegay Medin (TM)

Paleontology, paleoenvironment, conservation

Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution, IPHES, Spain

Yohannes Haile-Selassie  (YHS)

Paleoanthropology, paleontology, paleoenvironment


Cleveland Museum of Natural History, USA