The first expansion of hunter/ gatherers after the last glacial maximum, during the terminal Pleistocene moist phase and early Holocene into the Sahara is characterized by a non-microlithic Epipalaeolithic blade-based industry with characteristic elegant shouldered and side notched points (Ounanian-points), burins, scrapers and “meches de foret”.

This industry dates > 7 k.a. and possible >9 k.a BP. Archaeologically, the „Ounanian” sites appear as short term specialized camps. Ounanian-points are wide spread in the Sahara with the oldest sites in Northern Mali, Southern Algeria, Niger, and central Egypt at ca. 10 k.a. BP. Their distribution in time and space may indicate a North to South expansion of Ounanian-hunters, perhaps equipped with bow and arrows. These people may have observed the new abundance of large pray in the south (elephant, giraffe). Although Ounanian points are generally considered as arrowheads, this suggestion has yet to be verified. Some of these artifacts may have well served for other purposes.

It appears that the expansion of aquatic resources in the Holocene made the Sahara attractive to populations with existing fishing and riverine hunting skills. Their ability to hunt hippopotamus and crocodiles and to catch a wide variety of deepwater fish species would have propelled a rapid dispersal from east to west and into the central Sahara, to judge by the numerous branches of Nilo-Saharan in the east. The archeological remains of this “aqualatic complex” are barbed bone points and a fish hook technology. Drake recently suggested that this people could have been Nilo-Saharan speakers, but linking linguistic data with “archaeological cultures” is sometimes misleading.

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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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2 Responses to Ounanian-Points

  1. mauro cremaschi says:

    I discovered several sites with this type of point in the area of Erg Uan Kasa ( libyan Sahara) during a survey from 1994 to 2002, which are mostly still unpublished. Could you please supply more literature ore references about your research on this subject.

    Mauro Cremaschi

  2. Katzman says:

    Dear Mauro,
    Thanks for your comment
    I am only an amateur and not actively involved in any field work. I would be very interested in more information about Ounanien points. This begins with a proper definition, because in the literature some similar points are (in my view) incorrectly subsumed under the Ounanien label (for example in Egypt by the Wendorf group). Did you ever recognize the similarities to the Havelte-Points of N-Europe?

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