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2021-08-04 17:56:42   •   ID: 2260

Lupemban at Lake Tumba - The Heart of Darkness

Figure 1
Figure 2
Lake Tumba, is part of the Congo River basin in northwestern Congo (Kinshasa). It covers 500 square km and is only about 2–6 m deep. The lake empties into the Congo River by the Irebu channel, just opposite its confluence with the Ubangi River.

Interestingly, in Central Africa, the first recorded Paleolithic assemblages were exactly collected in the Tumba lake area (now in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and several prehistoric periods were described collectively as the "Tumbakultur" (Menghin 1925).

Later it became clear that the "Tumbakultur" was a mix of several technocomplexes-among them the Lupemban - see 1651

During the Middle Pleistocene, the lake largely resembled its present appearance both morphologically and as a tropic habitat. It was certainly an attractive ecotope for hominins and their prey.

Presently, the clustering of MSA scatters in the area of former beach shores at Lake Tumba is thought to indicate relatively continuous colonization by an early (Archaic) Homo sapiens - the last forerunners of our species and maybe the first Hominins to colonize the rainforest in small groups.

The first artifact, shown in this post (Figure 1 and 2) is 9 cm long, made of high quality flint and according the current nomenclature a typical Bifacial Lanceolate- see 2024 . Such tools have been found, mostly without a secure stratigraphical context, within the rainforest belt of Central Africa. They are seen as one hallmark of the Lupemban, a technocomplex adapted both to Rainforest and Savanna environments.

The second tool (Figure 3 and 4) was made from quartz and maybe it has a brocken tip. The raw material that was used made it difficult to produce a sufficiently thin bifacial point or on the contrary the manufacturer intended to produce a different tool - for example an core-axe.

Figure 3
Figure 4
Lupemban Bifacial Lanceolates are considered to be spear points, although we do not yet have any microtraceological studies of these tools. So far this view is only based on analogies, drawn from the meanwhile well studied Stillbay points of South Africa.

Isis Mesfin has recently summarized the few chronological data on the Lupemban. They range from the middle Pleistocene to the Holocene and are partly associated with large methodological uncertainties (Mesfin 2021).

"Only few Lupemban assemblages are dated and available ages suggest a large chronological hiatus questioning the definition and the homogeneity of this complex:

• In the Congo Basin, radiocarbon ages range from 40 k.a. (Maboue V, Gabon) (Assoko Ndong 2002) to 12 k.a. (Kinshasa Plain, Democratic Republic of Congo) (Van Moorsel 1968).

• In the southern margins of Central Africa, Uranium-Thorium dating has placed the earliest age for the Lupemban at 230 k.a. at Twin Rivers (Zambia) (Barham & Smart 1996).

• In the Nile Valley, OSL dating of the Lupemban layer from Sai Island (Sudan) produced an age of 182±20 k.a. (Van Peer et al. 2003).

• In the Lake Victoria area, the Sangoan-Lupemban assemblage of Muguruk (Kenya) has been estimated between 30 and 120 k.a. based on sedimentation rates (McBrearty 1988)"

Taylor's and Mesfin's summaries of the Lupemban in Central Africa show one aspect above all: Central Africa is one of the most insufficiently studied regions of the Continent to provide information about transcontinental connections by opening „Green Corridors“ by early hominins during the Middle and Late Pleistocene - a true heart of darkness.

This is mainly the consequence of the political situation in this area and the extraordinary unclear, undescribed or disturbed stratigraphic contexts.

Some associations to the Heart of Darkness theme have emerged for me through the eponymous story by Joseph Conrad, published in 1899, and the film Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola from 1979. And not to forget: the film's theme music by Jim Morrison and the Doors.....