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2016-06-16 03:10:32   •   ID: 1316

The Iberomaurusian of N-Africa

Figure 1
These are some Implements from the Gafsa-area (Tunesia).  The Iberomaurusian represents the earliest Upper Palaeolithic in the Maghreb. This technocomplex was introduced in 1909 by Pallary who described an microlithic industry from Abri Mouillah (western Algeria).

Geographically, the Iberomaurusians occupied the Mediterranean littoral from Morocco to Tunisia and the Cyrenaica region (“Oranian”) further east. Today the Iberomaurusian is believed to be of essentially local origin, although possible forerunners from the Levant (Late Ahmarian, early Kebaran), Italia (Epigravettian) and the Nile valley have been discussed in the past.  

Chronological evidence for the Iberomaurusian is limited. During the last years an AMS dating program in northern and eastern Morocco (Ghar Cahal, Kehf el Hammar and Taforalt) revealed a time frame of 18-11 k.a. BP (between 21 and 11 k.a. calibrated BP).

Similar dates were recently published from the important Ifri n’Ammar site. It seems that Iberomaurusian bladelet industries made a fairly sudden appearance soon after the LGM. The Iberomaurusian ends with the younger Dryas and thus with the end of the Pleistocene.  The late Pleistocene of N-Africa offered an arid open steppe environment.

Subsistence elements from Iberomaurusian sites show a wide variety of hunted or collected food components typical for the “broad spectrum revolution“. From their inland camps the Iberomaurusians hunted herbivores like horse, gazelle and Barbary sheep. Sites that are closer to coastal areas are often characterized by the remains of marine hunting and shell middens in addition to the mammalian fauna.  

Regarding lithic technology, there are a variety of cores, mainly single and double-platform types. The retouches are abrupt (backed) or very fine, continuous and marginal (Ouchtata). The microburin technique is widely used. Typologically the Iberomaurusian characterized by a great variety of backed bladelets, a few burins, simple endscrapers, a few geometric segments, and the famous „Mouillah point”, which in small quantities, has also be reported from the Levantine Epipaleolithic.

Modern investigations about diachronic and regional differentiation of the lithic ensembles are not available. Some elements (the microburin technique) seem to be a long-lasting constant feature. Overall the Iberomaurusian seems to represent a relative stable cultural phenomenon with only minor typological and technological changes. Microscopic use wear analyses of the Iberomaurusian site of Tamar Hat showed that the backed bladelets were used as projectile points in hunting procedures.




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