"Research conducted since the 1990s in SW Libya has provided wide-ranging data on the Pleistocene archaeology of this vast region, which principally relies on surface scatters of lithic artefacts, a series of soundings and two MSA/Aterian dated sites. The Middle Stone Age of the region is thought to date from roughly MIS 6/5 to approximately 60 ka (the latest dated Aterian occurrence). Its distribution varies from sand seas to mountain ranges, with different states of preservation and archaeological visibility. This paper presents data from the last surveys (2010–2011) carried out on 46 transects across the Messak massif. One component of the research strategy was specifically designed to handle the impressive Pleistocene record through sampling a series of spots placed at fixed distances along predetermined survey strips. Field documentation of the techno-typological traits allowed the creation of a territorial data-set used to infer patterns of raw material exploitation, technological variability and the significance of the principal chrono-cultural markers. Quartzarenite, the most available and used raw material, is a diffusely distributed resource. This should have played a role in patterns of land use and mobility and, ultimately, in the composition of archaeological assemblages, mostly characterised by complete reduction sequences. Variability in the application of the Levallois method highlights widespread adoption of recurrent and lineal schemes. Among the latter, point production is extremely rare. The retouched blanks inventory is dominated by scrapers and notches, whereas more specialised tool classes (i.e., tanged pieces, points, foliates) are less common. The dimensions of a small sample of Aterian artefacts provisionally signal a higher degree of homogeneity among pointed tanged specimens than other types. Despite the overwhelming presence of roughly labelled MSA contexts, these show little evidence of a MSA stricto sensu chrono-cultural signature, among which scanty but precise elements are comparable with the sub-Saharan and Nile valley early Middle Stone Age, reinforcing the picture of multiple dispersals across the Sahara and North Africa around MIS 6/5. The evolution of MSA occupation and its cultural trajectories is difficult to assess, while the last phases, represented here by the Aterian, can be framed in hyperarid MIS 4 – after the dates from Acacus – and likely represent the adaptation of residual groups almost confined to mountain environments” (read more/open access).
(Open access source: Quaternary International 300:142-152, 2013 via Academia.edu)
- by Ron Shimelmitz and Steven L. Kuhn
"Following the stratigraphic sequence described by D. Garrod in her pioneering excavations at Tabun Cave, the Levantine Mousterian is traditionally divided into three sub-stages (B, C, D) according to changes in modal forms of Levallois production. Despite the ubiquity of this terminology, none of these three stages from Tabun has been described in detail. Furthermore, our knowledge of variability in technology and chronology within the Levantine Middle Paleolithic has increased markedly in the last three decades. This variation is especially apparent in the Early Middle Paleolithic, when both Levallois and non-Levallois laminar methods appear in most sites but with different frequencies. In this paper we provide a reconstruction of the Levallois technology in the early Middle Paleolithic of Tabun Cave using assemblages from Jelinek’s excavations in Unit IX (Garrod’s layer D). In contrast to many other contemporary sites, where non-Levallois laminar production is strongly represented, the assemblage of Unit IX is dominated by a recurrent, unipolar Levallois technology. Understanding the specific character of the “prototype” of Tabun D is an important step towards assessing inter- and intra-assemblage variability within the Levantine Early Middle Paleolithic. Appreciating this variation is in turn essential for explaining the apparently sudden appearance of these early Mousterian assemblages between 200 and 250 kya. The method used at Tabun Unit IX is both flexible and efficient, yielding both large numbers of blanks and a range of products while reducing the waste of material involved in shaping and maintaining of the core. In these assemblages, blades, flakes and Levallois points, and a variety of other products, were produced through systematic exploitation of different parts of the core’s surface. In this respect the technology of Tabun Unit IX differs from the ‘laminar method’ known from other early Levantine assemblages in the organization of production and in its economic features and the range of products” (read more/open access).
(Open access source: Paleoanthropology 2013:1-27)
(image) This is a Micoquian Handaxe from the famous El Beyyed-Tazazmout site in northern Mauretania, where it was collected during the 1950ies. Micoquien Handaxes can be symmetric or slightly asymmetric. They have a massive, often only coarsely or unworked base, slightly of pronounced concave outlines and an elaborated tip. At La Micoque the handaxes often follow a trifacial concept. The analysis of techno-functional units (TFU) in the identification of the conceptual zones defining the volumetric organization of the piece from the beginning of its fabrication at La Micoque showed that: “Two………. Read More
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