A research project led by Dr. Brian Stewart has shown that the Karoo Desert of South Africa contained paleolakes during the late Pleistocene and probably was inhabited by humans. The project, Karoo Pans Paleohydrology Prehistory (KP3), was published in PNAS (May 15, 2023; institutional access). The paper provides chronological, paleoenvironmental, and paleohydrological evidence for the existence of large bodies of water (paleolakes) in the now-arid interior Karoo Desert of South Africa at various times during the late Pleistocene (MIS 3 and 2). This has implications for understanding the region’s attractiveness to ancient hunter-gatherers, especially given that area has traditionally been thought of as perennially arid and hostile. Read more here.

Image: Flowering Karoo Desert in spring, near Willowmore, Eastern Cape, Southafrica. Credit: Winfried Bruenken (Amrum)/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA