Sangoan / Lupemban : Core axe from Katanga


sangoan lupemban aggsbach katzmanThis is a core axe from Katanda (quartzite; 12 cm long), found in the 1950ies. The Sangoan and Lupemban of Central Africa and the Eastern Lowlands are MSA- technocomplexes dated roughly between 400-150 k.a BP. They can be identified on the basis of “heavy duty” core axes and picks (Sangoan) and smaller and parallel sided core axes and bifacial lanceolates, often combined with a blade element and Levallois flake tools (Lupemban). At Twin Rivers and Kalambo Falls there are the first African indication for backed tool technology, suggestive for hafting these artifacts. JD Clark suggested these heavy duty tools were good for wood-working, based on association of Kalambo Falls site in Zambia with deciduous woodland, and preserved wood at site. However, a number of other sites, such as those excavated by McBrearty in Kenya and at Sai 8-B-11 were clearly occupied by open grassland or savannas.

The Sangoan is thought to be older than Lupemban, but the stratigraphic relationship is not well documented except for the great Site of Kalambo Falls in Zambia where the Sangoan is stratified beneath the Lupemban and  at the site of Sai 8-B-11 in northern Sudan.

At Sai 8-B-11  the two lowermost strata can be attributed to the Sangoan because of the presence of core-axes and distinctive flake reduction strategies. Given the evidence of systematic blade production and the presence of a lanceolate in addition to small and regular core-axes, the upper assemblage of this sequence is qualified as Lupemban. It is suggested, that this ensemble marks the beginning of the MSA in the Nil valley, which is later evolving towards the “Nubian -MSA”, during OIS6/5.

Since Caton-Thompson`s times, there has been considerable discussion as to the origins of the Aterian, with some researchers seeing its origins in northwest Africa and others suggesting that it develops out of the Sangoan / Lupemban and the early Nubian complex ( Of course, there is a certain similarity between the bifacial foliates of the Lupemban and Early Nubian complex and  Aterian foliates. Anyhow,  a genetic link between these industries can not be further substantiated till now.

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About Katzman

During my whole life I was fascinated by stone age artefacts. Not only the aesthetic qualities of these findings, but also the stories around them and the considerations arising from their discovery, are a part of my blog. Comments and contributions are allways welcome!

About me: J.L. Katzman (Pseudonym). Born in Vienna. Left Austria in 1974 and did not regret. Studied Medicine and Prehistory at a German University. Member of a Medical Department at a German University.

Copyright 2010-2017 by JLK. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to use material in these posts so long as you cite the work.

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