The Early Nubian Complex

early nubian complex aggsbch

These bifacial foliates (the longest is about 12 cm long) and a thick scraper were found together with Nubian cores many decenia ago and are associated to the early Nubian Complex.

Many Nubian Complex surface scatters in upper Egypt/Sudan were detected by the Combined Prehistoric Expedition in the Sahara Desert led by F. Wendorf from 1962-1999. As early as 1964/ 1965  the Guichards reported about a lot of non stratified assemblages with Nubian cores, thick scrapers and bifacial foliates in the area that would later be flooded by the Aswan dam. The early Nubian Complex since then was suggested to be characterized exactly by this artefactual spectrum. Nearly 50 years after, there are some stratified sites, that substantiate this view.

Lanceolate points and bifacial foliates from early Nu­bian Complex assemblages, are most similar to the large lanceolates which are the hallmark of the Lupemban in­dustry, although they also occur in the Sangoan of western Africa. It seems to be clear that both the Sangoan and the Lupemban are arly early developments of the MSA where bifacial technology has been used in a very dif­ferent way from the preceding Acheulian.

A Sangoan presence in Northeast Af­rica, at Site 8-B-11 on Sai Island in the northern Middle Nile Valley has recently be demonstrated. Here, late Acheulian and Sangoan occupation levels are interstratified suggesting the contem­poraneous presence of two behavioral systems during OIS7. The Sangoan levels at 8-B-11 contain evidence of  novel behaviors including the exploitation and process­ing of iron-oxide pigments and vegetal materials and, in the lithic domain, specialized re-tooling of composite tools with depleted core-axes (Rots and Van Peer 2006).

In the 8-B-11 sequence, lanceolate foliates show up in an OIS 6 level overlying the Sangoan/Acheulian. Techno­logically as well, this assemblage evidences Lupemban fea­tures, such as the use of a complex blade reduction system very similar to the one documented in the  Lupem­ban at Kalambo Falls . In addition, Nubian Lev­allois methods for points begin to be modestly represented and this provides an obvious link with the early Nubian Complex.

A small lithic assemblage recovered from the exploitation pit at Taramsa-8, excavated by the Belgian Middle Egypt Prehistoric Project of Leuven University, also evidence the presence of bifacial foliates during the Early Nubian Complex

The Palaeolithic sequence from Sodmein Cave in the Egyptian Eastern Desert, near Quseir, contains seven stratified archaeological levels from the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. A huge multilayered hearth occurs in the lowest archaeological level (MP5), associated with only a few artefacts.  Within the hearths were burnt bones of large mammals, such as buffalo and elephant, as well as those of some species indicative of the presence of open water (e.g., crocodile). This faunal assemblage is quite similar to that of the Lake phases 1 and 2 at Bir Tarfawi and Bir Sahara in the western desert, dated to the last interglacial. Among the lithics associated with this feature is a Nubian1 subtype Levallois core. Also present was a fragment of a  thin, bifacially flaked tool. MP5 was TL dated to 118+/-8 k.a. (OIS 5e).

About later developments of the Nubian Complex, please read here in Aggsbachs Blog:

About the East African MSA and the Nubian Complex:

Map of Nubian Complex sites:

Some foliates and Nubian cores from the Guichard publication:

nubian katzbach

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3 Responses to The Early Nubian Complex

  1. Wolfgang says:

    Hey Katzman- I wonder about the richness of your collections- Superb!!

  2. Pingback: The Early Nubian Complex | Aggsbach's Paleolith...

  3. Pingback: Handaxes of Upper Egypt and Nubia | Aggsbach's Paleolithic Blog

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