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2016-10-29 14:28:19   •   ID: 1526

The local MSA - The forgotten Paleolithic heritage of Tunisia (II)

Figure 1
Numerous surface scatters around Gafsa were sampled (mainly by amateurs) through the last 100 years.  Here they found a small sized Acheulian or MSA with small Bifaces made from Flint (as shown in an earlier post). Eurocentric French researchers 60 years ago, indeed thought that they had found a pendant to the MTA of S/W-France. Formally these Tunisian handaxes would well fit in the MTA technocomplex, although they are surely at least 50 k.a. years older and therfore a convergent phenomenon. See also 1578

Strange enough some of the Gafsa surface findings fit into a well-developed Ferrassie Mousterian (Levallois Mousterian with heavily reworked scrapers) characterized by an  astonishing abundance of well-made scrapers, often convergent and multi angled with Quina retouche.

The S’baikian (Sbaikian), a variant of the local MSA has recently entered again into the discussion after the term was abandoned more than 50 years ago (more about that during a later post).

The small scatter, shown here, was found by a Belgian collector during the 1930 and shows discoid cores, a classic Limace and scrapers with a foliate character. There are no indications for a Levallois technical system, otherwise common during the Tunisian MSA.  

Indeed, the small tools (max length: 5 cm)  resemble the Spectrum of the Quina Mousterian in S-France and the Rhone valley, certaily a convergent evolution. One explanation for the Quina characteristics of the ensemble could be the work on small flint pebbles with a good quality- similar to the Italian Pontinian.

In many respects the artefactual spectrum of Tunisia differs from the Maghreb and it will remain thrilling to evaluate what factors caused these “abnormalities “ compared to the MSA in N-Africa.

Figure 2: View to Gafsa (Wikipedia Commons)

Figure 2

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