Somewhere in the eastern Sahara between 16-11,000 years ago, this pair of hunter-gatherers is scouting the dunes for food. The language they speak is Proto-Afrasan (or Proto-Afroasiatic), and it will give rise to a entire phylum of languages spoken across northern and eastern Africa as well as the Middle East. Examples of Afrasan languages include ancient Egyptian, Sudanese Beja, Somali, most languages spoken in Ethiopia, and the Berber and Semitic subgroups (the latter having arrived in the Middle East sometime before 7400 BC). The exact origin point of Proto-Afrasan remains unknown, but most likely it is somewhere in northeastern Africa.
A friend of mine is working on an anthropology/archaeology book about various human population movements in and out of the Sahara during its cycles of climate change, and he and I believe the expansion of Afrasan languages across Africa and into the Middle East represents one of these movements. His project is what inspired this illustration.