A Cleaver from Ouarzazate


This is a bifacial cleaver found in Ouarzazate 

The small town of Ouarzazate, nicknamed: The door of the desert, is a city and capital of Ouarzazate Province in the Souss-Massa-Drâa of southern-central Morocco. To the south of the town is the desert. During historical times, the small town was first and foremost a trading center for camel caravans from sub-Saharan Africa on their way to Fez or Marrakesh. The local inhabitants were responsible for the construction of assorted fortified dwellings like Kasbahs and Ksours for which the whole region is famous. The fortified village (ksar) of Ait Benhaddou west of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today Ouarzazate a major tourist destination due to the location of the Atlas film Studios.

North African Acheulian deposits of are divided into two types: first, the sites linked to the artesian springs, sometimes with the  fossilized remains of large mammals (Ain Fritissa Morocco, Lake Karar and Tighennif in Algeria, Sidi Zin in Tunisia ), and secondly sites associated with  alluvial deposits (Ouarzazate and high Draa Valley in Morocco, Ouzidane, Champlain and El-Ma-el-Abiod in Algeria, and Koum el Majene in Tunisia).

The presence of Paleolithic industry around Ouarzazate was first reported by Antoine in 1933. The author described an industry collected in the old alluvial deposits of Oued Ouarzazate, near the namesake city. The artifacts were produced from igneous or metamorphic rocks dominated by quartzite. The large cutting tools represent about a third of all artifacts that were selectively collected. Ironically, while Antoine stated that cleavers were absent in his sample, he defined “pseudoamygdaloïdes” which for the most seem to be precisely cleavers, like the one shown here.

Biberson (1954) and Rodrigue (1986) corrected the inventory list of Antoine.  Rodrigue (1986) published some cleavers from the site together with mostly amygdaloidal bifaces and Levallois cores and flakes.  According to this author, the Acheulian at Ouarzazate could be of Tensiftien age, although a late middle Pleistocene age seems to be more probable.

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