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2019-09-06 08:18:22   •   ID: 2116

Needle like Microliths from the N/W- Mauritanian Neolithic

Figure 1
These are Needle-Like Amartures from N/W- Mauritania (Medium Length: 2,54 cm), which were collected during the 1950ies by a French Ingenieur, together with a lot of backed points, microlithic shouldered points and some small Ounanian derived microliths ( Medium Length: 1,87 cm).

The operational sequence of these tiny tools begins with the production of straight bladelets, that were in a next step backed on one or two sides. Finally they were bi- or even trifacially reworked by pressure flaking.

Today, the lithic industries of northwestern Mauritania are almost totally denatured by looting operations.

At surface sites one can never be sure, that professional "Antiquarians, indigenous looters, guides or tourists, have removed eye-catching artifacts, which results in biased collections and misleading interpretations. Therefore the scientific search of non disturbed contexts is of overall importance for professional Archaeologists.

Figure 2
Since the early 1970s, only three surface sites have provided archaeologists with statistically consistent information: -Tintan-necropolis, by N. Petit-Maire and his team; -Et-Teyyedché, FA 38 and 39 by R. Vernet.

During the last years it was possible to detect undisturbed Stratigraphies and to reconstruct a local succession from the Epipaleolithic to the Neolithic, mainly by Robert Vernet and his coworkers. Nouadhfat is one of these sites:

The Nouadhfat site, north-east of Nouakchott, in western Mauritania, is essential, both for a knowledge of Holocene palaeoenvironments and for the Neolithic.

The site is near an important hydrographic palaeonetwork and on the bank of a vast palaeolake marked by diatomites, freshwater gasteropods and animal tracks printed in the mud.

Fishing was intensively practiced (presence of harpoons). The habitat was occupied by hunter-gatherers, fishermen and stock-breeders who took advantage of a milieu evolving progressively towards less humidity : first of all in the Middle Neolithic (around 6400 cal. BP), then more recently (3900 – 3300 cal. BP), after a very marked arid crisis.

Figure 3
Nouadhfat, which is the region’s best dated site, fits into an extremely rich ensemble for over at least four millennia.

The main characteristic of this ensemble is without doubt the existence of numerous cultures, which followed each other or which lived together, before the northern limit of the Sahel shifted distinctly southwards.
(Vernet et al. 2017).

Needle like armatures together with microlithic lunates, trapezes and percoirs are an important component of the Neolithic site of Et Teyyedché, industrie lithique 1 (Vernet 2007).

The artifacts, shown here have affinities to the Et Teyyedche group although some artifact classes are missing, probably by sampling bias.

The composition of such ensembles are only one choice among a broad spectrum of Neolithic tools in the area and the manyfold causes for specific choices and adaptions remain unknown.

Anyhow, the large number of projectiles atest that hunting was still very important for the „Neolithic“ Mauritanian societies.