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Current Research and Recent Radiocarbon Dates from Northern Africa, III

  • Angela E. Close (a1)
Extract

This article reports on developments in archaeological research in North Africa during the last four years, as these are reflected in the 350, or thereabouts, radiocarbon (and thermoluminescence) dates that have appeared since the last review. The number of new dates, and new data, becoming available indicate that North African archaeology is flourishing, although, in contrast to the earlier decades of this century, the focus seems now to be moving toward the eastern part of the region, and toward matters of adaptation rather than of simple classification, as exemplified by the new interpretations of the Dhar Tichitt Neolithic in Mauritania.

The lower Nile Valley has yielded evidence for an intensification of subsistence activities in the Late Palaeolithic in two areas, Makhadma and Kubbaniya, both involving fish-harvesting and the latter also witnessing the use of plant-foods on a scale hitherto undocumented for this period.

At the beginning of the Holocene, there is now good evidence for an eighth millennium bc Neolithic in northern Niger, complete with sophisticated ceramics, which complements the evidence already known for similar phenomena further east in the Sahara. There is even a possibility that the Khartoum Mesolithic of the central Nile Valley might be equally old. Our understanding of the Sudanese Neolithic has greatly increased. For the first time, there appears to be a development from the Khartoum Mesolithic into the Khartoum Neolithic, albeit located outside the Valley. The Khartoum Neolithic is more or less confined to the fourth millennium bc, but did give rise to the later Kadada Neolithic. After Kadada, the focus of settlement seems to have shifted outside the Valley until Meroitic times.

In the protohistoric and historic periods, we have a better understanding of the chronology of the Egyptian Predynastic, although not yet of its development; what models exist will be radically modified if the pyramids are indeed as old as the dates on them now indicate. Finally, far from the Nile Valley in northern Niger, there comes detailed evidence of the development of a precocious metallurgical tradition within a Neolithic context.

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1 The two previous articles, both by the present writer,are ‘Current research and recent radiocarbon dates from northern Africa’, J. Afr. Hist., XXI (1980), 145–67,and ‘Current research and recent radiocarbon dates from northern Africa, II’, J. Afr. Hist., XXV (1984), 1–24.

2 McIntosh, S. K. and McIntosh, R. J., ‘Recent archaeological research and dates from West Africa’, J. Afr. Hist., XXVII (1986), 413–42.

3 Stuiver, M. and Kra, R. S. (eds.), ‘Radiocarbon calibration issue: proceedings of the Twelfth International Radiocarbon Conference — Trondheim, Norway’, Radiocarbon, XXVIII, no. 2B (1986).

4 Stuiver, M. and Pearson, C. W., ‘High-precision calibration of the radiocarbon time scale, AD 1950–500 BC’, in Stuiver, and Kra, (eds.), ‘Radiocarbon calibration issue’, 805–38; G. W. Pearson and M. Stuiver, ‘High-precision calibration of the radiocarbon time scale, 500–2500 BC’, in Stuiver and Kra (eds.), ‘Radiocarbon calibration issue’, 839–62.

5 The calibration issue of Radiocarbon provides rather secure curves extending back to about 5200 B.C. (Pearson, G. W., Pilcher, J. R.,Baillie, M. G. L., Corbett, D. M. and Qua, F., ‘High-precision 14C measurement of Irish oaks to show the natural 14C variations from AD 1840–5210 BC’, in Stuiver, and Kra, (eds.), ‘Radiocarbon calibration issue’, 911–34). The floating chronologies now reach to more than 13,000 years ago, although the earlier millennia are extremely provisional (Stuiver, M., Kramer, B., Becker, B. and Ferguson, C. W., ‘Radiocarbon age calibration back to 13,300 years BP and the 14C matching of the German oaks and US bristlecone pine chronologies’, in Stuiver, and Kra, (eds.), ‘Radiocarbon calibration issue’, 969–79).

6 The curve most commonly used by archaeologists working in the later prehistory of northern Africa seems to be that of Klein, J., Lerman, J. C., Damon, P. E. and Ralph, E. K., ‘Calibration of radiocarbon dates’, Radiocarbon, XXIV (1982), 103–50.

7 The statistics of calibration are briefly discussed by McIntosh and McIntosh (‘Recent archaeological research’). A more rigorous treatment is given by Pearson, G. W., ‘How to cope with calibration’, Antiquity, LXI (1987), 98103.

8 M. Stuiver and P. J. Reimer, ‘A computer program for radiocarbon age calibration’, in Stuiver and Kra (eds.), ‘Radiocarbon calibration issue’, 1022–30.

9 Pearson, ‘How to cope’.

10 Ottaway, B. S., ‘Radiocarbon: where we are and where we need to be’, Antiquity, LXI (1987), 135–6.

11 Useful reviews of the current status of AMS dating can be found inGowlett, J. A. J., ‘The archaeology of radiocarbon accelerator dating’, J. World Prehistory, I (1987), 127–70, and in Gowlett, J. A. J. and Hedges, R. E. M. (eds.), Archaeological Results from Accelerator Dating (Oxford, 1986).

12 Northern Africa was not well supplied with active volcanoes in the Pleistocene, so that potassium-argon dating is not an available option and the period before 40,000 years ago is difficult to date. Some of the experimental (and more established) techniques now being used are mentioned below in note 18.

13 A recent summary of radiocarbon dates for Sinai and adjacent regions to the East is given by Weinstein, J. M., ‘Radiocarbon dating in the southern Levant’, Radiocarbon, XXVI (1984), 297366.

14 I would, however, draw the reader's attention to the recommendations of the twelfth radiocarbon conference: ‘Conventional 14C ages…are to be reported in years BP where o BP is the year 1950… The use of AD/BC in connection with 14C ages by archaeologists is discouraged’ (Mook, W. G., ‘Recommendations/resolutions adopted by the Twelfth International Radiocarbon Conference’, Radiocarbon, XXVIII (1986), 799).

15 Close, ‘Current research’ and ‘Current research, II’.

16 Schild, R., ‘Unchanging contrast? The Late Pleistocene Nile and Eastern Sahara’, in Close, A. E. (ed.), Prehistory of Arid North Africa. Essays in Honor of Fred Wendorf (Dallas, 1987), 1327. The dates are listed in the Appendix in stratigraphic order from Gd-TL118 (base) to Gd-TL32 (top); Gd-TL33 should, obviously, be rejected.

17 In the 1980 and 1984 date-lists, both finite and infinite dates were given for Middle Palaeolithic sites at Bir Sahara, Bir Tarfawi, Sites 34D and 1017 in Nubia and Nazlet Khater-2. However, the finite dates either may be rejected as too young or are at the limit of the radiocarbon range and should be viewed as minimum dates.

18 Wendorf, F., Close, A. E. and Schild, R., ‘Recent work on the Middle Palaeolithic of the Eastern Sahara’, Afr. Arch. Rev., V (1987), 4963. In the absence of volcanic sediments, the Last Interglacial and Penultimate Glaciation can be difficult periods to date. The Eastern Sahara sequences are being dated by a variety of techniques, some of them still experimental, including thermoluminescence dating of sediments, uranium series, electron spin resonance and amino acid racemisation (or, more properly, epimerisation).

19 Paulissen, E. and Vermeersch, P. M., ‘Earth, man and climate in the Egyptian Nile Valley during the Pleistocene’, in Close, A. E. (ed.), Arid North Africa, 2967.

20 From Site E71 K9 near Isna; Wendorf, F. and Schild, R., ‘The Paleolithic of the lower Nile Valley’, in Wendorf, F. and Marks, A. E. (eds.), Problems in Prehistory: North Africa and the Levant (Dallas, 1975), 127–69. The date was originally regarded with considerable scepticism.

21 I wish to thank Professor F. Wendorf for permission to cite these unpublished dates. Other dates for the Idfuan are given in Wendorf, F. and Schild, R., Prehistory of the Nile Valley (New York, 1976). There is also a much later radiocarbon date for Shuwikhat-1 (GrN-13281), which would be more in accord with the other Idfuan dates; according to the Gröningen laboratory, however, this must be regarded as a minimum age because of extraction problems. This unpublished date was kindly communicated to me by Professor P. M. Vermeersch.

22 Wendorf, F. and Schild, R., ‘Summary and conclusions’, in Wendorf, F., Schild, R. (assemblers) and Close, A. E. (ed), The Prehistory of Wadi Kubbaniya, vol. III. The Late Paleolithic Occupations (Dallas, in press).

23 Stewart, T. D. and Tiffany, M., ‘Cleaning and casting of the skeleton’, in Wendorf, F. and Schild, R. (assemblers) and Close, A. E. (ed), The Prehistory of Wadi Kubbaniya, vol. I. The Wadi Kubbaniya Skeleton: A Late Paleolithic Burial from Southern Egypt (Dallas, 1986), 4953.

24 Close, ‘Current research, II’.

25 Angel, J. L. and Kelley, J. O., ‘Description and comparison of the skeleton’, in Wendorf et al., Wadi Kubbaniya Skeleton, 53–70.

26 At the Jebel Sahaba cemetery in Nubia, more than 40% of all skeletons, regardless of age and sex, showed direct evidence of violent death; the proportion actually to have died violently was probably much higher (Wendorf, F., ‘Site 117: a Nubian Final Paleolithic grave yard near Jebel Sahaba, Sudan’, in Wendorf, F. (ed.), The Prehistory of Nubia (Dallas, 1968), 954–95). In contrast, none of the skeletons from contemporaneous Iberomaurusian cemeteries in the Maghreb shows signs of violence.

27 A. Gautier and W. Van Neer, ‘Animal remains from the Late Paleolithic sequence at Wadi Kubbaniya’, in Wendorf et al., Paleoenvironmental and Stratigraphic Studies.

28 These are the dates for E-81-3, E-81-4 and E-82-3, given in Close, ‘Current research, II’. There is also a new date (SMU-1816) for the Fakhurian at Deir el-Fakhuri near Isna which is in close accord with the Kubbaniya readings. I wish to thank Professor Wendorf for permission to cite this date and the hitherto unpublished dates from Wadi Kubbaniya.

29 Other dates are given in Close, ‘Current research’ and ‘Current research, II’. Five of the sites for which new dates are given here are in the same dunefleld and, therefore, in the same stratigraphic sequence. The dates are arranged in stratigraphic order from the earliest site (E-81-6) to the upper layer of the latest site (E-78-4). Site E-78-9 and E-83-2 are not in the dunefleld.

30 AA-2771 to AA-2782. The plants were identified by Mr G. C. Hillman of the Institute of Archaeology of the University of London. Full description and discussions of the Kubbaniya plant-remains can be found in G. Hillman, E. Madeyska and J. Hather, ‘Wild plant foods and diet at Late Paleolithic Wadi Kubbaniya: evidence from charred remains’, in Wendorf et al., Paleoenvironmental and Stratigraphic Studies.

31 Wendorf and Schild, ‘Summary’.

33 Jones, C. E. R., ‘Archaeo-chemistry: fact or fancy’, in Wendorf et at., Paleoenvironmental and Stratigraphic Studies.

34 Gautier and Neer, Van, ‘Animal remains’, in Wendorf et al., Pateoenvironmental and Stratigraphic Studies.

35 Wendorf, F., ‘Summary of Nubian prehistory’, in Wendorf (ed.), Prehistory of Nubia, 1041–1059.

36 Y-1376 (Stuiver, M., ‘Yale natural radiocarbon measurements IX’, Radiocarbon, XI (1969), 545658). The associated artefacts were initially called Sebilian, but were later assigned to the Silsilian (Smith, P. E. L., ‘New investigations in the Late Pleistocene archaeology of the Kom Ombo Plain (Upper Egypt)’, Quaternaria, IX (1967), 141–52). The Silsilian has been described from only one site (Phillips, J. L. and Butzer, K. W., ‘A “Silsilian” occupation Site (GS-2B-II) of the Kom Ombo Plain, Upper Egypt: geology, archaeology and paleo-ecology’, Quaternaria, XVII (1973), 343–86), and, so far as can be determined, seems to be a local Ballanan. Terminological confusion of this nature has done little to advance our understanding of Nilotic prehistory.

37 Y-1375 and Y-144 (Stuiver, ‘Yale’). The Gebel Silsila 2B-I collection was also initially called Sebilian.

38 Paulissen and Vermeersch, ‘Earth, man and climate’;Paulissen, E., Vermeersch, P. M. and Van Neer, W., ‘Progress report on the Late Palaeolithic Shuwikhat sites (Qena, Upper Egypt)’, Nyame Akuma, XXVI (1985), 714;Vermeersch, P. M., ‘New research on Palaeolithic sites in the Makhadma area, near Qena’, Nyame Akuma, XXII (1983), 56; and Vermeersch, P. M., Paulissen, E. and Van Neer, W., ‘The Late Palaeolithic Makhadma sites (Egypt), their environment and subsistence’, in Krzyzaniak, L. and Kobusiewicz, M. (eds.), Later Prehistory of the Nile Basin and the Sahara (Poznań, in press). I am very grateful to Professor Vermeersch for sending me a copy of the Makhadma report, which is still in press, and for details of the dates which have been obtained since that report was written. The two much later dates (GrN- 12982 and 12983) are from Predynastic hearths unrelated to the Late Palaeolithic occupations.

40 There is also a mid-eleventh millennium B.C. date (SMU-1366) for the Isnan site at Wadi Kubbaniya. A comparable date for the same site (SMU-1032) appears in Close, ‘Current research, II’.

41 Paulissen and Vermeersch, ‘Earth, man and climate’. There is an additional mid-twelfth millennium B.C. date (I-3440) for these sites in the Makhadma area, but with a large standard deviation. A fifth millennium B.C. date (Lv-1379) from an overlying hearth provides a terminus ante quem for the silts.

42 Vermeersch et at., ‘Late Palaeolithic Makhadma’.

43 From Qasr es Saga 11/79; laboratory number unknown. Ginter, B. and Kozlowski, J. K., ‘Recent work at Qasr es Saga in the Fayum’, in Krzyzaniak and Kobusiewicz (eds.), Later Prehistory.

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

46 BLn-2325, Gd-979, 980, 1497, 1499 and 2021 and one date from Qasr es Saga I/7a for which the laboratory number is not known. Ginter and Kozlowski, ‘Recent work’.

46 BLn-2333 and 2334, Gd-1495.

47 Hassan, F. A., ‘Radiocarbon chronology of Neolithic and Predynastic sites in Upper Egypt and the Delta’, Aft. Arch. Rev., III (1985), 95116. An additional date of about 3300 bc (WSU-1846) is rejected as probably too young.

48 These have been collected and excavated by the B.O.S. (Besiedlungsgeschichte der Ostsahara) expedition, under the direction of Herr R. Kuper of Köln, but are not yet published.

49 Ginter and Kozlowski, ‘Recent work’, and Ginter, B., Kozlowski, J. K., Pawlikowski, M. and Silwa, J., ‘El-Tarif und Qasr el-Sagha, Forschungen zur Siedlungs-geschichte des Neolithikums, der Frühprädynastischen Epoche und des mittleren Reiches’, Mitteil. Deutsch. Arch. Inst., Abt. Kairo, XXXVIII (1982), 97129. The dates in question are Gd-895, 903, 915, 977 and 978 for the Moerian, and Gd-879 and 904 for the Protodynastic.

50 Hassan, ‘Neolithic and Predynastic’.

51 Hays, T. R., ‘Predynastic development in Upper Egypt’, in Krzyzaniak, L. and Kobusiewicz, M. (eds.), Origin and Early Development of Food-Producing Cultures in North-Eastern Africa (Poznań, 1984), 211–19.

52 Hassan, F. A., ‘A radiocarbon date from Hamamieh, Upper Egypt’, Nyame Akuma, XXIV/XXV (1984), 3.

54 Beta-1356, 1370, 1371, WSU-2255 and 2256. Hassan, F. A., ‘Radiocarbon chronology of Predynastic Nagada settlements, Upper Egypt’, Current Anthropology, XXV (1984), 681–83, and Hassan, ‘Neolithic and Predynastic’.

55 Hassan, ‘Neolithic and Predynastic’.

56 WSU-2257. Ibid.and Hassan, ‘Nagada’.

57 W-4347, 4349 and 4350.Ibid.

58 Beta-16151 is regarded as acceptable, while Beta-16150, 16152 and 16154 appear to be about two centuries too old on the basis of previous dates, regional stratigraphy and cross-dating. There is an additional date (Beta-18041) for the Protodynastic (Nagada III) at Hierakonpolis which is a startling 12–1300 years too old. I am very grateful to Dr M. A. Hoffman for providing me with details of these unpublished dates and for his comments upon them.

59 The radiocarbon dates in this very brief account of the Predynastic are discussed in uncalibrated form, or radiocarbon years. As we approach the beginnings of historical Egypt, it becomes more useful to think in terms of calendar years, or we may find the Predynastic apparently contemporaneous with the third dynasty. Hassan (‘Neolithic and Predynastic’) gives a useful account of all the Predynastic radiocarbon dates available in 1984, in calibrated form. This places the Badarian at about 4400 to 3800 B.C., Nagada I at about 3850 to 3650 B.C., Nagada II at about 3650/3600 to 3300 B.C. and Nagada III from about 3300 B.C. until the beginning of the first dynasty at 3150/3100 B.C. Obviously, and unfortunately, Hassan could not make use of the high-precision calibration curves that appeared in 1986.

60 Hassan, ‘Neolithic and Predynastic’.

61 Haas, H., Devine, J., Wenke, R., Lehner, M. and Wölfli, W., ‘Radiocarbon chronology and the historical calendar in Egypt’. Paper presented to the C.N.R.S. international colloquium on Relative and Absolute Chronologies in the Near East from 16,000 to 4000 BP (Lyons, 1986). Sixty-four samples were collected from ten monuments.

62 Hassan, F. A. and Robinson, S. W., ‘High-precision radiocarbon chronometry of ancient Egypt, and comparisons with Nubia, Palestine and Mesopotamia’, Antiquity, LXI (1987), 119–35.

63 Wenke, R. J., ‘Old Kingdom community organization in the western Egyptian Delta’, Norwegian Archaeological Review, XIX (1986), 1533. I wish to thank Dr Wenke for providing me with details of his unpublished dates from Kom el-Hisn.

64 Close, ‘Current research, II’. Wendorf, F., Schild, R. (assemblers) and Close, A. E. (ed.), Cattle-Keepers of the Eastern Sahara: the Neolithic of Bir Kiseiba (Dallas, 1984).

65 Delibrias, G., Guillier, M.-T. and Labeyrie, J., ‘Gif natural radiocarbon measurements’, Radiocarbon, XXVII (1986), 968.

66 There is also given in the Appendix a series of dates from shaft-graves cut into the limestone, mostly in the sixth dynasty, at Qubbet el Hawa, near Aswan (Protsch, R. and Weninger, B., ‘Frankfurt radiocarbon dates I’, Radiocarbon, XXVI (1984), 185–95), and a series from East Karnak, the town of ancient Thebes, from a building believed to correlate with the Kushite-Saite period (750–350 B.C.), although the dates are rather old and may indicate an ‘old wood’ problem (Hurst, B. J. and Lawn, B., ‘University of Pennsylvania radiocarbon dates XXII’, Radiocarbon, XXVI (1984), 212–40. A comprehensive summary of the most acceptable radiocarbon dates for Pharaonic Egypt (this time using high-precision calibration curves) is given by Hassan and Robinson, ‘High-precision’.

67 KN-3222 and 3223, Cziesla, E., ‘Sitra and related sites at the western border of Egypt’ in Krzyzaniak and Kobusiewicz (eds.), Later Prehistory; KN-3175, 3327 and 3412,Gabriel, B., ‘Die östliche Libysche Wüste im Jungquartär, Berlin geog. Studien, XIX (1986); and SMU-1551, Wendorf, F., Close, A. E. and Schild, R., ‘A survey of the Egyptian radar channels: an example of applied archaeology’, J. Field Arch., XIV (1987), 4363.

68 Wendorf et al., Cattle-Keepers; they place the Middle Neolithic at about 5750–4250 bc and the Late Neolithic at about 4250–3000 bc.

70 Wendorf et al., ‘Radar channels’.

71 Gabriel, ‘Wüste’.

72 Wendorf et al., Cattle-Keepers and A. Gautier, ‘Prehistoric men and cattle in North Africa: a dearth of data and a surfeit of models’, in Close (ed.), Arid North Africa, 163–87.

73 McCauley, J. F., Schaber, G. G., Breed, C. S., Grolier, M. J., Haynes, C. V., Issawi, B., Elachi, C. and Blom, R., ‘Subsurface valleys and geoarchaeology of the Eastern Sahara revealed by shuttle radar’, Science, CCXVIII (1982), 1004–20.

74 Wendorf et al., ‘Radar channels’. Distributional and stratigraphic evidence for earlier periods of prehistory actually suggests that the channels have not held perennial streams during any period of local human occupation; the earliest sites are Middle Acheulean.

75 KN-3080, 3170, 3178 and 3181. Gabriel, ‘Wüste’, and W. Schuck, ‘From lake to well — 5000 years of settlement in Wadi Shaw (northern Sudan)’, in Krzyzaniak and Kobusiewicz (eds.), Later Prehistory.

76 KN-3088 refers to the end of the earlier lake and KN-3086 and 3094 refer to the later lake; since wavy-line pottery occurs between these two, the date might be too young. Gabriel, ‘Wüste’.

77 Schuck, ‘From lake to well’, and Gabriel, ‘Wüste’. These are surely not the earliest Holocene occupations of the area. By stratigraphically detailed dating of early Holocene lake-beds at different latitudes across northwestern Sudan, Haynes has demonstrated that a ‘wetting front’ moved across the desert from south to north by the early eighth millennium bc and probably at a rate of about 0.6–0.8 km per annum (C. V. Haynes, ‘Holocene migration rates of the Sudano-Sahelian wetting front, Arba' in Desert, Eastern Sahara’, in Close (ed.), Arid North Africa, 69–84). The front is known to have arrived in the Kiseiba area of southwestern Egypt by the mid-eighth millennium (Wendorf et al., Cattle-Keepers) and there is considerable evidence that there was an actual river running from Wadi Howar to the Nile in the Early Holocene (Pachur, H.-J. and Kröpelin, S., ‘Wadi Howar: paleoclimatic evidence from an extinct river system in the Southeastern Sahara’, Science, CCXXVII (1987), 298300). We may be confident that human groups would not have left empty so attractive a niche as northwestern Sudan.

78 SMU-1149. Marks, A. E., Peters, J. and Van Neer, W., ‘Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene occupations in the upper Atbara river valley, Sudan’, in Close (ed.), Arid North Africa, 137–61.

79 SMU- 1607; ibid. Curiously, a pile of burned pebbles at this site (KG68) suggests the practice of a cooking technique still used in Khashm el Girba today.

80 Ibid. and Fattovich, R., Marks, A. E. and Mohammed-Ali, A., ‘The archaeology of the eastern Sahel, Sudan: preliminary results’, Afr. Arch. Rev., II (1984), 173–88.

81 Khabir, A. M., ‘New radiocarbon dates for Sarurab 2 and the age of the Early Khartoum Tradition’, Current Anthropology, XXVIII (1987), 377–80. Khabir refers to his excavation as ‘Sarurab 2’ to distinguish it from Mohammed-Ali's earlier work at the site.

82 Mohammed-Ali, A. S. A., The Neolithic Period in the Sudan: 6000–2500 B.C. (Oxford, 1982).

83 Roset, J.-P., ‘Paleoclimatic and cultural conditions of Neolithic development in the Early Holocene of northern Niger (Aïr and Ténéré)’, in Close (ed,), Arid North Africa, 211–34, and Wendorf et al., Cattle-Keepers. Dates for the early ceramic occupations at Tin-Torha, in the Acacus, are given in Close, ‘Current research’ and ‘Current research, II’. See also below.

84 Caneva, I. (ed.), ‘Pottery using gatherers and hunters at Saggai (Sudan): preconditions for food production’, Origini, XII (1983), 7278.

85 Khabir, , ‘New radiocarbon dates’, and Adamson, D. A., Williams, M. A. J. and Gillespie, R., ‘Palaeogeography of the Gezira and of the lower Blue and White Nile valleys’, in Williams, M. A. J. and Adamson, D. A. (eds.), A Land Between Two Niles (Rotterdam, 1982), 165219.

86 Marks, A. F., ‘Butana archaeological project: 1983–84’, Nyame Akuma, XXIV/XXV (1984), 32–3.

87 Mohammed-Ali, A. S. A., ‘The Neolithic of central Sudan: a reconsideration’, in Close, (ed), Arid North Africa, 123–36.

88 Cavena, ‘Pottery using gatherers’.

90 El Ghaba– Gif-5505, 5506, 5507 and 6307:Geus, F., ‘La section française de la Direction des Antiquités du Soudan. Travaux de terrain et de laboratoire en 1982–1983’, Archéologie du Nil Moyen, 1 (1986), 1358; I wish to thank Dr Geus for providing me with details of the three unpublished dates from El Ghaba. Guli – SUA-211: Adamson, D. A., Clark, J. D. and Williams, M. A. J., ‘Pottery tempered with sponge from the White Nile’, Afr. Arch. Rev., V (1987), 115–27. El Kudra — Gif-6810: Geus, ‘La section française’. Rabak — T-5133, 5134 and 5726:Mahi, A. Tigani el and Haaland, R., ‘Archaeological research in the area of Rabak and Atbara, Sudan’, Nyame Akuma, XXIV/XXV (1984), 2832, and Hassan, F. A., ‘Chronology of the Khartoum “Mesolithic” and “Neolithic” and related sites in the Sudan: statistical analysis and comparisons with Egypt”, Afr. Arch. Rev., IV (1986), 83102. Shaheinab — T-3699: Hassan, ‘Chronology’, Shaqadud – SMU-1134: Marks, ‘Butana’; this date was cited in Close, ‘Current research, II’ as 3640 bc, which was before correction for fractionation. Umm Direiwa — T-3697, 4045 and one date with unknown laboratory number:Haaland, R., Migratory Herdsmen and Cultivating Women (Bergen, 1981). El Ushara — Gif-6305 and 6306: Geus, ‘La section française’. Zakiab – T-3050: Haaland, Migratory Herdsmen.

91 Mohammed-Ali, ‘Neolithic of central Sudan’.

92 Marks, A. E., Mohammed-Ali, A., Peters, J. and Robertson, R., ‘The prehistory of the central Nile Valley as seen from its eastern hinterlands: excavations at Shaqadud, Sudan’, J. Field Arch., XII (1985), 261–78.

93 Domestic cattle appear at Rabak at the end of the fifth millennium bc (T-5133 and 5134), which is quite as early as their appearance in the Khartoum area, 200 km to the north. The pottery from Rabak at that period is almost identical to that of the Khartoum Neolithic, although the stone artefacts are rather different. Within a couple of centuries (T-5726), however, the local Jebel Moya type of Neolithic was beginning to crystallise and continued at the same site well into the third millennium bc (T-5132). (Tigani el Mahi and Haaland, ‘Archaeological research’.)

94 Geus, ‘La section française’.

95 Such changes are not yet apparent at El Kudra at about 3300 bc. It is unfortunate that the excavation at El Ghaba has been confined to the cemetery area (Geus, ‘La section française’).

86 Gif-5508, 5509, 5571 and 6809:Geus, F., ‘Franco-Sudanese excavations in the Sudan (1982–83)’, Nyame Akuma, XXIII (1983), 23–5, and ‘La section française’. I am grateful to Dr Geus for details of his unpublished dates from El Kadada. Other dates for the site are given in Close, ‘Current research, II’.

97 Geus, ‘La section française’.

98 Caneva, I., ‘Recent field works in the northern Khartoum Province’, Nyame Akuma, XXVII (1986), 42–4. Again, I am grateful to Dr. Geus for details of the dates from El Kenger and Baqeir. There is also a date of this period from Jebel Tomat to the south (SUA-67: Adamson et al., ‘Palaeogeography’), but the principal occupation of the site was some two thousand years later, near the beginning of the first millennium ad (Posnansky, M. and McIntosh, R., ‘New radiocarbon dates for northern and western Africa’, J. Afr. Hist., XVII (1976), 161–95).

99 Geus, ‘La section française’.

100 Ibid. and Nordstrom, H., The Scandinavian Joint Expedition to Sudanese Nubia, Volume 3:1. Neolithic and A-Group Sites (Stockholm, 1972). The four dates for the Classic A-Group given in the Appendix (U-806, 807, 818 and 819) are all on the same sample and have a weighted mean of 2705 bc±80. Five dates are given for the Terminal A-Group (U-834, 835, 2425, 2426 and 2491), of which U-834 and 835 are on the same sample and have a weighted mean of 2605 bc±75. The charcoal dates are later and probably more reliable.

101 Gif-5846, 5847, 6528, 6529, 6530, 6808 and one unnumbered Gif date from El Kadada. My thanks are due again to Dr Geus for details of the previously unpublished dates. See also Geus, ‘Franco-Sudanese excavations’.

102 Ibid.

103 Marks et al., ‘Prehistory’.

104 Mohammed-Ali, ‘Neolithic of central Sudan’.

105 SMU-1127, 1128, 1133 and 1208. Slightly different versions of the first three dates are given in Close, ‘Current research, II’, which were not corrected for fractionation.Magid, A. A., ‘Macrobotanical remains from Shaqadud’, Nyame Akuma, XXIV/XXV (1984), 27–8; Marks, ‘Butana’; Mohammed-Ali, ‘Neolithic of central Sudan’.

106 Relevant dates are SUA-70, 299 and 2339. Adamson et al., ‘Pottery’.

107 Ibid.

108 Fernández, V. M., ‘Radiocarbon dating for the Early Meroitic in northern Nubia’, Nyame Akuma, XXIV/XXV (1984), 23–4. The date (UGRA-149) can be calibrated to about 1750 B.C., which is in accord with the historical dating of the transition from Middle to Classic Kerma.

109 Ibid. and Fernández, V. M., ‘Spanish excavations in the Sudan: 1978–81’, Nyame Akuma, XXIII (1983), 20–2.

110 Fernández, ‘Spanish excavations’.

111 Barbina, V., Calligaris, F., del Fabbro, A. and Turello, A., ‘Udine radiocarbon laboratory date list II’, Radiocarbon, XXVI (1984), 293–6.

112 Barich, B. E., ‘La serie stratigrafica dell'Uadi Ti-n-Torha (Acacus, Libia)’, Origini, VIII (1974), 7184.

113 Close, ‘Current research’ and ‘Current research, II’.

114 Barich, B. E., Belluomini, G., Bonadonna, F., Alessio, M. and Manfra, L., ‘Ecological and cultural relevance of the recent new radiocarbon dates from Libyan Sahara’, in Krzyzaniak and Kobusiewicz (eds.), Origin, 411–17. Other dates for Ti-n-Torha Two Caves are mid-eighth to mid-seventh millennium bc.

115 Dates from Pasa's earlier excavation of the site have already appeared in the Journal:Willett, F., ‘A survey of recent results in the radiocarbon chronology of western and northern Africa’, J. Afr. Hist., XII (1971), 339–70. The new dates (Ud-224, 225 and 226) are from the reexcavation by Dr B. E. Barich, to whom I am most grateful for providing me with details of the dates and a preprint of her report on the site.

116 Barich, B. E., ‘Lo scavo di Uan Muhuggiag (Teshuinat) e attività di survey nell'Acacus settentrionale’, Libya Antiqua, XV (1978),112; and ‘Adaptation in archaeology: an example from the Libyan Sahara’, in Close (ed), Arid North Africa, 189–210.

117 SMU-704, 712, 1108 and 1121.

118 SMU-1081, 1082, 1084, 1095, 1096, 1098, 1099, 1120 and 1154. SMU-1082 is from the same snail-filled pit as SMU-1099 and is probably too old. The dates for Kef Zoura that have previously appeared in the Journal (Close, ‘Current research’) are from the Upper Capsian layers.

119 Haas, H., ‘Southern Methodist University radiocarbon date list III’, Radiocarbon, XXIX (1987), 209–38;Lubell, D., Gautier, A., Leventhal, E. T., Thompson, M., Schwarcz, H. P. and Skinner, M., ‘The prehistoric cultural ecology of Capsian escargotiéres, Part II: report on investigations conducted during 1976 in the Bahiret Télidjène, Tébessa Wilaya, Algeria’, Libyca, XXX–XXXI (19821983), 59142. The latter publication discusses only the upper part of the Kef Zoura sequence.

120 Aumassip, G., Le Bas-Sahara dans la Préhistoire (Paris, 1986).

121 El Hassi, at about 32° N, is probably the southernmost Capsian site:Tabni, M., Estorges, P. and Aumassip, G., ‘A propos du gisement de silex taillés d'el Hassi (Sahara algérien) découvert en 1880 par la Mission Choisy’, C.R. Acad. Sci., Paris, CCLXXXIV (1977), 535–7.

122 The dates for the Mellalian given in the Appendix are Gif-2649, 2650, 2651, 3412, 3413 and MC-527; Aumassip, Le Bas-Sahara and Delibrias et al., ‘Gif’. Gif-2651 is the youngest date for the Mellalian; the oldest is a date of about 6650 bc from Hassi Mouillah (MC-150; Posnansky and McIntosh, ‘Dates’).

123 Delibrias et al., ‘Gif’.

124 MC-400; Close, ‘Current research’.

125 Alg-55, 58, Gif-3407, MC-398 and 913; Aumassip, Le Bas-Sahara and ‘Neolithic of the basin of the Great Eastern Erg’, in Close, (ed.), Arid North Africa, 235–58. Other dates for the Hadjarian have appeared in the J. Afr. Hist. (Flight, ‘Survey’, gives three and Posnansky and McIntosh, ‘Dates’, give four), but all fall between 5250 bc (MC-913) and 3175 bc (ALG-55). The Appendix also gives a single, previously uncited date for the local Middle Neolithic at Bamendil-Gara Driss (ibid.).

126 Pollen analysis suggests about 150 mm of rainfall per annum in the fifth millennium; Aumassip, ‘Neolithic’.

127 Gif-3408, 3409, 3410, 3411, 3414, MC-525 and 908; Aumassip, Le BasSahara and Delibrias et al., ‘Gif’.

128 Hv-9693; Gabriel, B., ‘Great plains and mountain areas as habitats for the Neolithic man in the Sahara’, in Krzyzaniak and Kobusiewicz (eds.), Origin, 391–98.

129 The other dates have already appeared in the j. Afr. Hist. (Close, ‘Current research, II’).

130 Aumassip, G., ‘Ti-n-Hanakaten, Tassili-n-ajjer, Algérie. Bilan de 6 campagnes de fouilles’, Libyca, XXVIII–XXIX (19801981), 115–27;Aumassip, G. and Delibrias, G., ’Age des dépôts néolithiques du gisement de Ti-n-Hanakaten (Tassili-n-Ajjer, Algérie)’, Libyca, XXX–XXXI (19821983), 207–11. MC-676, 677 and 678 were cited by Posnansky and McIntosh (‘Dates’) without comment; it seems worthwhile to repeat them here as part of the full suite of dates.

131 Gif-948, 5857 and MC-678.

132 Barich, ‘La serie stratigrafica’.

133 Ibid; Wendorf et al., Cattle-Keepers;Roset, ‘Paleoclimatic and cultural conditions’; see also below.

134 Gif-5416, 5417, 5429, 5467 and MC-677.

135 Gif-5418;Aumassip, G., Betrouni, M. and Hachi, S., ‘Une structure de cuisson de sauterelles dans les dépôts archéologiques de Tin-Hanakaten (Tassili-n-Ajjer, Algérie)’, Libyca, XXX–XXXI (19821983), 199202.

136 MC-676.

137 Burleigh, R., Ambers, J. and Matthews, K., ‘British Museum natural radiocarbon measurements XVI’, Radiocarbon, XXV (1983), 3958, and British Museum natural radiocarbon measurements XVII’, Radiocarbon, XXVI (1984), 5974.

138 Tite, M. S., Bowman, S. G. E., Ambers, J. C. and Matthews, K. J., ‘Preliminary statement on an error in British Museum radiocarbon dates (BM-1700 to BM-2315)’, Antiquity, LXI (1987), 168.

139 Ambers, J., Matthews, K. and Bowman, S., ‘British Museum natural radiocarbon measurements XX’, Radiocarbon, XXIX (1987), 177–96.

140 There are also important, possible early Islamic dates from the Wadi Mammanet in Niger, discussed below.

141 Delibrias et al., ‘Gif’.

142 Vaufrey, R., Préhistoire de l'Afrique. Tome I: Le Maghreb (Tunis, 1955).

143 Aumassip, Le Bas-Sahara.

144 Delibrias et al., ‘Gif’.

145 Berthélémy, A. and Accart, R., ‘Ma Izza, site néolithique marocain’, Bull. Soc. Préh. Fr., LXXXIV (1987), 7582.

146 Close, ‘Current research, II’.

147 A few of these have already appeared in the J. Afr. Hist. (McIntosh and McIntōsh, ‘Recent archaeological research’) where Dhar Tichitt Site 38 is referred to as Akreijit and Site 46 as El Rhimiya 13.

148 McIntosh and McIntosh, ‘Recent archaeological research’, and Munson, P. J., ‘Recent archaeological research in the Dhar Tichitt region of south central Mauritania’, W. Afr. Arch. Newsl., X (1968), 613.

149 Holl, A., ‘Subsistence patterns of the Dhar Tichitt Neolithic, Mauritania’, Afr. Arch. Rev., III (1985), 151–62. Sites 45 and 46 are (dry-season) sites on the plain; Sites 3, 4, 11, 12, 17, 30 and 38 are (wet-season) sites on the plateau.

150 Ibid.

151 Wendorf et al., Cattle-Keepers.

152 Delibrias et at., ‘Gif’.

153 Ibid.

154 The final report is Petit-Maire, N. and Riser, J. (eds.), Sahara ou Sahel? Quaternaire récent du Bassin de Taoudenni (Mali) (Marseille, 1983). Most of the dates pertaining to human activity have already appeared in the J. Afr. Hist. (McIntosh and McIntosh, ‘Recent archaeological research’); three more (Gif-5811, UQ-368 and 370) are given here. Petit-Maire and Riser also have a very long series of dates referring to matters palaeoenvironmental. See also Petit-Maire, N., Celles, J. C., Commelin, D., Delibrias, G. and Raimbault, M., ‘The Sahara in northern Mali: man and his environment between 10,000 and 3500 years bp (preliminary results)’, Afr. Arch. Rev., 1 (1983), 104–25.

155 Petit-Maire, N. and Dutour, O., ‘Holocene populations of the western and southern Sahara: Mechtoids and paleoclimates’, in Close, (ed.), Arid North Africa, 259–85.

156 Ibid.

157 Petit-Maire and Riser, Sahara ou Sahel?

158 Gif-6122, 6124, 6125, 6194, 6195, 6196, 6197, 6198 and 6469.Delibrias, G., Petit-Maire, N. and Fabre, J., ‘Age des dépôts lacustres de la région de Taoudenni-Trhaza (Sahara malien)’, C. R. Acad. Sc. Paris, sér. II, CCIC (1984), 1343–6.

159 The dates are from Adrar Bous 10, Temet and Tin-Ouaffadene, but lack laboratory numbers: Roset, ‘Paleoclimatic and cultural conditions’. Other, and perfectly compatible, dates from Adrar Bous 10, Tagalagal and Temet have already appeared in the J. Afr. Hist. (McIntosh and McIntosh, ‘Recent archaeological research’).

160 The relevant references were cited above, in note 133.

161 The dates given in the Appendix are Gif-2933, 2934, 2935, 2936, 2937, 2938, 3057, 3516, 3518, 3519 and 3521; Delibrias et al., ‘Gif’. Gif-3516 is on charcoal recovered near the skeletons of a leather-clad woman and her child, but it is not clear that it was associated with them.

162 Grébénart, D., ‘Characteristics of the Final Neolithic and Metal Ages in the region of Agadez (Niger)’, in Close, (ed.), Arid North Africa, 287316.

163 Gif-4173 from Orub. An almost identical date for the Saharan Neolithic at Chin Tafidet has already appeared in the J. Afr. Hist. (McIntosh and McIntosh, ‘Recent archaeological research’). These dates would make the Saharan Neolithic of Agadez contemporaneous with the Neolithic of Dhar Tichitt in Mauritania (see above) and of Koro-Toro in Chad (Close, ‘Current research’), although the latter two are not linked with metal-working.

164 The Early Copper Age dates cited in the Appendix are Gif-3862, 4177, 5172, 5179, 5543, MC-2398, 2399, 2400 and 2401. The two older dates (MC-2398 and 2399) are from Furnace I at Afunfun Site 175. Additional dates for the Early Copper Age have been given by McIntosh and McIntosh, ‘Recent archaeological research’.

165 Grébénart, ‘Characteristics’.

166 The Late Copper Age dates in the Appendix are Gif-4175, 4330, 5541, 5542, 5544, 5545, 5546, MC-2402, 2403, 2404, 2405, 2406 and one unnumbered Gif date from Azelik Site 210. Additional dates have been given in the J. Afr. Hist. by McIntosh and McIntosh, including one isolated date of about ad 670 (Gif-5184), which is probably too recent.

167 Grébénart, ‘Characteristics’.

168 IbidLambert, N., ‘Nouvelle contribution à l'étude du Chalcolithique de Maurétanie’, in Echard, N. (ed.), Métallurgies africaines, nouvelles contributions. Mémoires de la Société des Africanistes, Paris, IX (1983), 6388.

169 The dates for the Sahelian Neolithic are Gif-5178, MC-I700, 1701, 1702, 1703 and 2395; Grébénart, ‘Characteristics’.

170 The Early Iron Age dates are Gif-4170, 4171, 4172 and MC-2397. Grébénart, ‘Characteristics’.

171 Ibid.

172 Paris, F., Roset, J.-P. and Saliège, J.-F., ‘Une sépulture musulmane ancienne dans l'Aïr septentrional (Niger)’, C. R. Acad. Sc. Paris, sér. III, CCCIII (1986), 513–18.

173 The ranges for the calibrated values are AD 610–880.

174 Abun-Nasr, J. M., A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period (Cambridge, 1987), 29.

175 It should be noted that this find refers to the existence of Islamic influences, not to the establishment of Islam itself.

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The Journal of African History
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  • EISSN: 1469-5138
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