Transitions during the Paleolithic of North Africa

These are three Epipaleolithic artifacts from western Morocco. While we know numerous sites from the Iberomaurusian and Capsian, industries from the Initial Upper Paleolithic in N-Africa are scare.

The period between the Middle Palaeolithic (a Levallois-Mousterian with or without pedunculated pieces which begins during OIS7 and ends at ca 40 k.a. BP) and the onset of the precisely dated Late Upper Palaeolithic (the Iberomaurusian which commences at around 20-16 k.a.) is one of the most enigmatic phases in the Maghreb and Northern Africa as a whole.

An Early Upper Paleolithic between 26-20 k.a. BP seems to exist, but there are only a handful of sites with poor material. Common features in all these assemblages are the absence of Levallois technique, a tendency toward production of blades or laminar flakes, and the notable appearance of backed pieces. Such inventories are known from Kehf el Hammar in the Western Rif and from the Grotte de Pigeons at Taforalt. More comprehensive inventories from this period are known from the Jebel Gharbi area of north-western Libya. At sites like Ras el Wadi or Shakshuk Early Upper Paleolithic inventories with blade technology were excavated. There are AMS dates from Shakshuk of ca. 30 k.a. for the early upper Paleolithic and 16 k.a. for the Iberomaurusian.

Where did the people of the Initial Upper Paleolithic in Morocco come from? Regarding the discontinuity between the “Aterian” and the Upper Paleolithic they probably came from the east (via the nil valley? via the Levant?).

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