Much of the commentary on the booming Gulf economies centers on speculation of how sustainable it all is. Just how precarious human existence can be, was illustrated last month when National Geographic published details of its spectacular discovery of the largest Stone Age graveyard yet found in the Sahara. The site named Gabero lies in Niger, beside a dried out lake and dates back over 10,000 years. It contains the remains of two very different civilizations - the Kiffian and the Tenerian, cultures separated by more than 1,000 years. Over two hundred graves were found, together with stone tools, beads, harpoon points, fishhooks and potsherds and skeletons of elephants, giraffes, warthogs, pythons, crocodiles, hartebeests and the imposing 6 foot long Nile perch. Now the Sahara has been desert for quite some time, so how did a lake suddenly appear in the Tuareg's Tenere Desert? Twelve thousand years ago, the Earth's orbit wobbled slightly, shifting Africa's wet season north. Rain and floods caused the desert to bloom. Lakes formed, attracting the Kiffian, animals and fish. The wobble eventually smoothed itself out returning the Tenere's arid climate, before repeating itself rather less vigorously 1,000 years later, enabling the Tenere to eke a living from the region's shallower lakes. Whether historically high oil prices will prove to be the Emirates equivalent of the orbital 'wobble' remains to be seen. History however is replete with desert civilizations which bloomed before being swallowed once more by the desert's shifting sands.
PS. The graveyard was discovered by accident by members of an expedition hunting serendipity headed by University of Chicago Professor Paul Sereno! http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/08/080814-sereno-sahara-missions.html Image: Expedition highlight, the stunning triple burial comprising a woman entangled with two children, National Geographic