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Current Research and Recent Radiocarbon Dates from Northern Africa, II

  • Angela E. Close (a1)

This article outlines recent developments in the archaeology of North Africa, and how our views have evolved in the four years since the previous survey. The principal changes, as such, are that in eastern North Africa, for the first time, sties have been found which fall between the Middle and Late Palaeolithic, thus beginning to close a disconcerting gap in the archaeological record; further evidence is available from the eastern and central Sahara that cattle may have been domesticated in North Africa at least as yearly as anywhere else in the world; and we now begin to have a picture of the complex series of local adaptations developed by Neolithic groups along the extreme western edge of the Sahara, which has hitherto been an archaeological vacuum. Research elsewhere in North Africa is devoted to fleshing out our still skeletal view of ways of life in the Late or Epipalaeolithic and, above all, in the Neolithic, when the use of domesticated plants or animals began to have its first effects on human societies. Archaeological research into the historical periods is less active, but parts of the central Sahara may reflect happenings in more active areas to the North, serving as refuges for the series of peoples displaced by the mainstream of history.

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1 Willett, F., ‘A survey of recent results in the radiocarbon chronology of western and northern Africa’, J. Afr. Hist. XII (1971), 339–70.

2 Flight, C., ‘A survey of recent results in the radiocarbon chronology of northern and western Africa’, J. Afr. Hist. XIV (1973), 531–54.

3 Posnansky, M. and McIntosh, R., ‘New radiocarbon dates for northern and western Africa’, J. Afr. Hist. xvii (1976), 161–95.

4 Calvocoressi, D. and David, N., ‘A new survey of radiocarbon and thermoluminescence dates for West Africa’, J. Afr. Hist. xx (1979), 129.

5 Sutton, J. E. G., ‘Archaeology in West Africa: a review of recent work and a further list of radiocarbon dates’, J. Afr. Hist. xxiii (1982), 291313.

6 Close, A. E., ‘Current research and recent radiocarbon dates from northern Africa’, J. Afr. Hist. xxi (1980), 145–67.

7 McBurney, C. B. M., The Haua Fteah (Cyrenaïca) and the Stone Age of the Southeast Mediterranean (Cambridge, 1967).

8 Close, ‘Current research’.

9 It has been suggested that the Nile may not actually have flowed at all during this period, although this now begins to seem unlikely. Issawi, B. and Hinnawi, M. el, ‘Contribution to the geology of the plain west of the Nile between Aswan and Kom Ombo’, in Wendorf, F., Schild, R. (assemblers) and Close, A. E. (ed.), Loaves and Fishes: the Prehistory of Wadi Kubbaniya (Dallas, 1980), 311330.

10 Vermeersch, P. M., Otte, M., Grilot, E., Grijselings, G. and Drappier, D., ‘Blade technology in the Egyptian Nile Valley: some new evidence’,Science, ccxvi (1982), 626628. The previously unpublished dates for Nazlet Khater (GrN. 11296–301) were very generously communicated to me by Professor Vermeersch.

11 I am very grateful to Professor Vermeersch for all of this information on his work at Nazlet Khater. He also reports two new dates (GrN. 11672–3) which would provide a terminus ante quern for an Upper Palaeolithic site at Nag el Ezba. Because of the nature and difficulties of the materials dated, both of these must be regarded as minimal ages (in litt. 16 May 1983).

12 By Dr T. Dale Stewart, of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

13 I wish to thank Professor F. Wendorf for allowing me to cite these and the following unpublished radiocarbon dates from Wadi Kubbaniya.

14 Lubell, D., ‘The Fakhurian. A Late Paleolithic industry from Upper Egypt’, Papers of the Geological Survey of Egypt, LVIII (Cairo, 1974).

15 Wendorf, F., Schild, R., Hadidi, N. El, Close, A. E., Kobusiewicz, M., Wieckowska, H., Issawi, B. and Haas, H., ‘The use of barley in the Egyptian Late Paleolithic’, Science, ccv (1979), 13411347. F. Wendorf et al., Loaves and Fishes.

16 Although the accelerator has shown that two groups of cereals from the earlier Kubbaniyan site (E-78–3) are modern intrusives (C. 298–9).

17 Radiocarbon-dated by linear accelerator since this article was written; they appear to be modern and not truly associated with the sites in which they were found (J. A. J. Gowlett, in lift. 8 July 1983).

18 Hassan, F. A., ‘The archaeology of the Dishna Plain, Egypt: a study of a Late Palaeolithic settlement’, Papers of the Geological Survey of Egypt, LIX (Cairo, 1974).

19 My thanks are due to Dr F. van Noten for information about this date.

20 The dates are by Beta Analytic Inc. and have no laboratory numbers. Wenke, R. J., Buck, P., Hanley, J. R., Lane, M. E., Long, J. and Redding, R. R., ‘The Fayyum archaeo-logical project: preliminary report of the 1981 season’, Amer. Res. Centre in Egypt Newsl. 122 (Summer 1983), 2540. I wish to thank Dr Wenke for bringing these and the following Predynastic dates to my attention.

21 Ibid. This date is from area FS-I, another large area of surface remains rather than a single site.

22 Pazdur, A., Awsiuk, R., Bluszcz, A., Pazdur, M. F., Walanus, A. and Zastawny, A., ‘Gliwice radiocarbon dates VII’, Radiocarbon, xxiv (1982), 171181.

23 Area FS-I. Wenke et al., ‘Fayyum’.

24 Hoffman, M. A., ‘The Predynastic of Hierakonpolis - an interim report’, Egyptian Studies Assoc. Publ. I (Giza, 1982).Burleigh, R. and Matthews, K., ‘British Museum natural radiocarbon measurements XIII’, Radiocarbon, xxiv (1982), 151170.

25 Burleigh and Matthews, ‘British Museum’.

26 I wish to thank Professor Vermeersch for information on all of these dates from his investigations at El Kab. The Epipalaeolithic dates were reported in the previous survey, which also portrayed El Kab firmly on the wrong bank of the Nile. This has been rectified in the current map.

27 These dates also were kindly sent to me by Professor Vermeersch.

28 Pazdur et al., ‘Gliwice’.

29 Again, the date for El Salamuni was provided by Professor Vermeersch.

30 Close, ‘Current research’.

31 The sites are E-79-I to E-79–8, and E-80-I to E-80–4. Wendorf, F., Schild, R. (assemblers) and Close, A. E. (ed.), The Prehistory of Bir Kiseiba (Dallas, in press).

32 Close, ‘Current research’. Gautier, A., ‘Contributions to the archaeozoology of Egypt’, in Wendorf, F. and Schild, R., Prehistory of the Eastern Sahara (New York, 1980), 317344. This volume was cited as Paleoenvironments and Human Exploitation in the Western Desert of Egypt in the 1980 survey, but underwent a title-change during publication.

33 F. Wendorf, pers. comm.

34 F. Wendorf, pers. comm.

35 Close, ‘Current research’.

36 The other dates, ranging from Late Neolithic to Pharaonic, are: SMU. 966–7, 1020 and 1104. Connor, D. R., ‘The Neolithic of the Egyptian Sahara: Results of Survey and Excavation in the Bir Kiseiba Region’ (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Southern Methodist University, 1983).

37 The dates on hearths (or, as our German colleagues would more accurately have it, Steinplätze) and small sites are: Hv. 8317–18 (which were kindly sent to me by Dr Baldur Gabriel); Hv. 8691–4 (Pachur, H. J. and Braun, G., ‘The paleoclimate of the central Sahara, Libya and the Libyan Desert’, Palaeoecology of Africa, XII (Rotterdam, 1980), 351363 (I wish to thank Dr Gabriel for bringing these dates to my attention); SMU. 622, 629–30, 745, 747 and 947 (samples collected by Dr C. V. Haynes); WSU. 1844, 1848 and 1868 (F. A. Hassan, ‘Holocene paleoclimates of northern Egypt’, (ms.)). Dates for somewhat larger Neolithic sites are: Hv. 8690 (Pachur and Braun,‘Paleoclimate’); SMU. 631, 654, 969 (samples collected by Haynes), SMU. 734 and 741 (Wendorf and Schild, Eastern Sahara).

38 Hassan, ‘Holocene’.

39 Pachur and Braun, ‘Paleoclimate’.

40 Kuper, R., ‘Untersuchungen der Besiedlungsgeschichte der östlichen Sahara. Vorbericht über die Expedition 1980’, Beiträge zur allgemeinen und vergleichenden Archäologie, III (1981), 215275.

41 Gabriel, B. and Kröpelin, S., ‘Jungquartäre limnische Akkumulationsphasen im NW-Sudan’, Zeitschrift fur Geomorphologie (Berlin-Stuttgart) N.F., Suppl.-Bd. (in press). I am very grateful to Dr Gabriel for providing me with details of these unpublished dates.

42 Kuper, ‘Untersuchungen’.

43 Collected by Dr C. V. Haynes.

44 Posnansky and McIntosh, ‘Dates’.

45 Geus, F., ‘Franco-Sudanese excavations in the Sudan (1981–1982)’, Nyame Akuma, xxi (1982), 3334. The three dates were processed by the Gif-sur-Yvette laboratory, but the laboratory numbers are not known.

46 Anwar, S. el, ‘Archaeological excavations on the west bank of the River Nile in the Khartoum area’, Nyame Akuma, xvni (1981), 4245.

47 Close, ‘current research’.

48 Krzyzaniak, L., ‘Radiocarbon measurements for the Neolithic settlement at Kadero (central Sudan)’, Nyame Akuma, XXI (1982), 38.

49 Haaland, R., ‘Some new C-I4 dates from central Sudan’, Nyame Akuma, XV (1979), 5657.

50 El Anwar, ‘Excavations’.

51 Geus, ‘Franco-Sudanese’. The dates are Gif. 4675 and 5213, and three other dates from the same laboratory for which the laboratory numbers are unknown.

52 Marks, A. E., Hays, T. R., Elamin, Y., Ali, A. M., ‘Butana archaeological project: interim note’, Nyame Akuma, XXI (1982), 3840. The article gives preliminary (and calibrated) versions of the radiocarbon dates; I wish to thank Dr H. Haas, of the Southern Methodist University radiocarbon laboratory, for the final (and uncalibrated) dates given here.

53 Ibid.

54 Constantini, L., Fattovich, R., Pardini, E., Piperno, M., ‘Preliminary report of archaeological investigations at the site of Mahal Teglinos (Kassala) November 1981’, Nyame Akuma, XXI (1982), 3033. One date for Mahal Teglinos was processed at Rome (laboratory number unknown)semicolon a second date is available for Site N120, near Khashm el Girba.

55 Close, ‘Current research’.

56 Barich, B. E., ‘Nuove evidenze nell'area dell'Auis (Tadrart Acacus, Libia)’, Libya Antigua, XV (in press). The dates were run by Dr G. Belluomini, of the Institute of Geochemistry of the University of Rome. Details of them and of the as yet unpublished excavation from which they derive were very kindly communicated to me by Dr Barich.

57 Close, ‘Current research’.

58 A. Gautier, ‘Archaeozoology of the Bir Kiseiba region, Western Desert of Egypt’, in F. Wendorf et al., Bir Kiseiba.

59 Petit-Maire, N. (ed.), Le Shati. Lac pleistocene du Fezzan (Libye) (Marseille, 1982).

60 Gabriel, B., ‘Die östliche Zentralsahara im Holozän – Klima, Landschaft und Kulturen (mil besonderer Berücksichtigung der neolithischen Keramik)’, in Préhistoire Africaine. Mélanges offertsau Doyen Lionel Balout (Paris, 1981), 195211.

61 Ibid. and Rønneseth, O., ‘Verlassene Siedlungen im Tibestigebirge’, Berliner Geogr. Abhandlungen, XXXII (1982), 2762.

62 B. Gabriel, ‘Zur vorzeitlichen Besiedlung Südalgeriens (Tanezrouft, Tidikelt, Touat, Gourara)’, Die Erde (in press). I wish to thank Dr Gabriel for providing me with this date.

63 Harkness, D. D. and Wilson, H. W., ‘Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre radiocarbon measurements III’, Radiocarbon, XXI (1979), 203256.

64 Jäkel, D. and Geyh, M. A., ‘14C-Daten aus dem Gebiet der Sahara’, Berliner Geogr. Abhandlungen, XXXII (1982), 143165. I wish to thank Dr Gabriel for bringing this publication to my attention.

65 Flight, ‘Survey’, and Close, ‘Current research’.

66 Jäkel, D., ‘Run-off and fluvial formation processes in the Tibesti mountains as indicators of climatic history in the central Sahara during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene’, Palaeoecology of Africa, XI (Rotterdam, 1979), 1344.

67 Ronneseth, ‘Verlassene Siedlungen’.

68 Ibid., and Jäkel and Geyh, ‘14C-Daten’.

69 Petit-Maire, N. and Riser, J., ‘Holocene lake deposits and palaeoenvironments in central Sahara, northeastern Mali’, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, XXXV (1981), 4561.

70 Page, W. D., ‘The Geological Setting of the Archaeological Site at Oued el Akarit and the Paleoclimatic Significance of Gypsum Soils, Southern Tunisia’ (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Colorado, 1972), cited in Lubell, D., Sheppard, P. and Jackes, M. K., ‘Continuity in the Epipalaeolithic of northern Africa with emphasis on the Maghreb’, in Wendorf, F. and Close, A. E. (eds.), Advances in World Archaeology, III (New York, in press).

71 Camps, G., Les Civilisations préhistoriques de l'Afrique du Nord et du Sahara (Paris, 1974).

72 Close, ‘Current research’

73 Ibid.

74 Jäkel and Geyh, ‘14C-Daten’.

75 Close, ‘Current research’.

76 Heddouche, A. E. K., ‘Le gisement épipaléolithique d'El-Onçor près de Bou-Saâda (Algéria)’, Libyca, XXV (1977). 7384.

77 Camps, Civilisations.

78 Amara, A., ‘Le gisement Es-Sayar, Bou Saâda (Algérie)’, Libyca, XXV (1977), 5971.

79 Lubell et at., ‘Continuity’.

80 Ibid.

81 Although references given for Capsian sites in the previous survey were indeed sources for the radiocarbon dates of those sites, not all were the primary sources. Dr D. Grébénart has kindly provided the correct primary references for some of the sites, as follows: for Aïn Naga: Grébénart, D., ‘Aïn-Naga. Capsien et Néolithique des environs de Messad (Département de Médéa, Algérie)’, Libyca, XVII (1969), 135198; for Botmasi-Mammar: Grébénart, D., ‘Problèmes du Néolithique près d'Ouled-Djellal: Botmasi-Mammar et Safiet-bou-Rhenan’, Libyca, XVIII (1970), 4766; for El Mermouta, El Outed, Rabah and Relilaï: Grébénart, D., Le Capsien des Régions de Tébessa et d'Ouled Djellal (Algérie), Contribution à son Etude (Aix-en-Provence, 1976).

82 Close, ‘Current research’.

83 Saxon, E. C., Close, A. E., Cluzel, C., Morse, V. and Shackleton, N. J., ‘Results of recent investigations at Tamar Hat’, Libyca, XXII (1974), 4991.

84 Morel, J., ‘Les Capsiens de la région de Tébessa, sédentaires ou nomades?’, Libyca, XXV (1977), 157162.

85 Evin, J., Marechal, J. and Marien, G., ‘Lyon natural radiocarbon measurements, IX’, Radiocarbon, XXV (1983), 59128.

86 Ibid.

87 This is not contradicted by the thermoluminescence date of 5940 B.C. ±680 (BDX. 110), since thermoluminescence dates are not expressed in radiocarbon years.

88 The laboratory numbers for all of the dates are: Hv. 9688–9, 9692 and 9694–700: Gabriel, ‘Zur vorzeitlichen Besiedlung’. I wish to thank Dr Gabriel for very kindly sending me these hitherto unpublished dates.

89 Maître, J. P., ‘Notule sur un site protohistorique de l'Atakor, Ahaggar central’, Libyca, XXIV (1976), 189194.

90 Its precise designation is AK-HG 076–10.

91 Delibrias, G., Guillier, M.-T. and Labeyrie, J., ‘Gif natural radiocarbon measurements, IX’, Radiocarbon, XXIV (1982), 291343.

92 Ibid.

93 Jäkel and Geyh, ‘14C-Daten’.

94 Evin et al., ‘Lyon’.

95 Delibrias et al., ‘Gif.’

96 Ibid.

97 Posnansky and McIntosh, ‘Dates’; Close, ‘Current research’.

98 Petit-Maire, N. (ed.), ‘La Sahara atlantique à l'Holocène. Peuplement et écologie’, Mémoires du C. R. A. P. E., XXVIII (Algiers, 1979). Radiocarbon dates were also obtained from Delibrias et al., ‘Gif’.

99 The date of about 1200 B.C. (Gif. 3262) for one such site at Medano Santiago would place it in the Late Neolithic.

100 Two are dated to about 1000 B.C. at Sebkha Laasailia (Gif. 3269 and 3465).

101 The radiocarbon dates for Tintan, for both cemetery and living areas, are: Gif. 1761, 1824, 1884 and 2484; Ly. 459–60, 503 and 505, and sixteen unnumbered dates from the Laboratoire de Géologic Dynamique, Paris VI.

102 The accepted radiocarbon dates for Chami range from early fifth to late first millennium B.C.; the Christian era dates are believed to be too young. The laboratory numbers are: Gif. 1762–3, 1765, 1856–7, 1859, 1970, 2161–8, 2333–4, 2486–9, 2491–2 and 3060; Ly. 346. Gif. 1763, 1856 and 1857 have already appeared in the Journal (Posnansky and McIntosh, ‘Dates’), but are here repeated as part of the complete suite of readings. From the same area, there is also a late fifth millennium B.C. date (Ly. 345) from a shell-midden on Cape Tafarit.

103 Petit-Maire, N, ‘Cadre écologique et peuplement humain: le littoral Ouest-Saharien depuis 10000 ans’, L'Anthropologie, LXXXIII (1979), 6982.

104 That this pottery includes the wavy line and dotted wavy line decorations characteristic of the Saharo-Sudanese Neolithic certainly indicates some contact with areas to the east.

105 Petit-Maire, ‘Cadre écologique’.

106 Petit-Maire, ‘Sahara’.

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