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The First Africans

Posted by big mike M on May 20, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Regular Middle Paleolithic inventories as well as Middle Paleolithic inventories of Aterian type have a long chronology in Morocco going back to MIS 6 and are interstratified in some sites. Their potential for detecting chrono-cultural patterns is low. The transition from the Middle to Upper Paleolithic, here termed Early Upper Paleolithic—at between 30 to 20 ka—remains a most enigmatic era. Scarce data from this period requires careful and fundamental reconsidering of human presence. By integrating environmental data in the reconstruction of population dynamics, clear correlations become obvious. High resolution data are lacking before 20 ka, and at some sites this period is characterized by the occurrence of sterile layers between Middle Paleolithic deposits, possibly indicative of a very low presence of humans in Morocco. After Heinrich Event 1, there is an enormous increase of data due to the prominent Late Iberomaurusian deposits that contrast strongly with the foregoing accumulations in terms of sedimentological features, fauna, and artifact composition. The Younger Dryas again shows a remarkable decline of data marking the end of the Paleolithic. Environmental improvements in the Holocene are associated with an extensive Epipaleolithic occupation. Therefore, the late glacial cultural sequence of Morocco is a good test case for analyzing the interrelationship of culture and climate change.

--Late Pleistocene Human Occupation of Northwest Africa: A Crosscheck of Chronology and Climate Change in Morocco

Jörg Linstädter, Prehistoric Archaeology, Cologne University, GERMANY Josef Eiwanger, KAAK, German Archaeological Institute, GERMANY Abdessalam Mikdad, INSAP, MOROCCO

Gerd-Christian Weniger, Neanderthal Museum, GERMANY

North Africa is quickly emerging as one of the more important regions yielding information on the origins of modern Homo sapiens. Associated with significant fossil hominin remains are two stone tool industries, the Aterian and Mousterian, which have been differentiated, respectively, primarily on the basis of the presence and absence of tanged, or stemmed, stone tools. Largely because of historical reasons, these two industries have been attributed to the western Eurasian Middle Paleolithic rather than the African Middle Stone Age. In this paper, drawing on our recent excavation of Contrebandiers Cave and other published data, we show that, aside from the presence or absence of tanged pieces, there are no other distinctions between these two industries in terms of either lithic attributes or chronology. Together, these results demonstrate that these two ‘industries’ are instead variants of the same entity. Moreover, several additional characteristics of these assemblages, such as distinctive stone implements and the manufacture and use of bone tools and possible shell ornaments, suggest a closer affinity to other Late Pleistocene African Middle Stone Age industries rather than to the Middle Paleolithic of western Eurasia.

--On the industrial attributions of the Aterian and Mousterian of the Maghreb, Harold L. Dibble et al.

Journal of Human Evolution, 2013 Elsevier.

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