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The role of cryptotephra in refining the chronology of Late Pleistocene human evolution and cultural change in North Africa

The role of cryptotephra in refining the chronology of Late Pleistocene human evolution and cultural change in North Africa
The role of cryptotephra in refining the chronology of Late Pleistocene human evolution and cultural change in North Africa
Sites in North Africa hold key information for dating the presence of Homo sapiens and the distribution of Middle Stone Age (MSA), Middle Palaeolithic (MP) and Later Stone Age (LSA) cultural activity in the Late Pleistocene. Here we present new and review recently published tephrochronological evidence for five cave sites in North Africa with long MSA/MP and LSA cultural sequences. Four tephra horizons have been identified at the Haua Fteah (Cyrenaica, Libya). They include cryptotephra evidence for the Campanian Ignimbrite (CI) eruption dating to ?39 ka that allows correlation with other Palaeolithic sequences in the eastern Mediterranean and as far north as Russia. Cryptotephra have also been recorded from the Moroccan sites of Taforalt, Rhafas and Dar es-Soltane 1. At Taforalt the geochemical composition suggests a provenance in the Azores, while examples from Sodmein (Egypt) appear to derive from central Anatolia and another unknown source. In these latter examples chemical compositional data from relevant proximal volcanic centres is currently lacking so the identification of tephra in layers of known age and cultural association provides the first reliable age determinations for distal volcanic events and their geographical extent. The future potential for tephrochronological research in North Africa is also discussed.
homo sapiens, tephrochronology, campanian ignimbrite (CI), middle stone age (MSA), middle palaeolithic (MP), later stone age (LSA), iberomaurusian
0277-3791
151-169
Barton, R.N.E.
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Lane, C.S.
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Albert, P.G.
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White, D.
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Collcutt, S.N.
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Bouzouggar, A.
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Ditchfield, P.
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Farr, L.
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Oh, A.
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Ottolini, L.
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Smith, V.C.
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Van Peer, P.
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Kindermann, K.
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Barton, R.N.E.
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Lane, C.S.
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Albert, P.G.
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White, D.
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Collcutt, S.N.
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Bouzouggar, A.
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Ditchfield, P.
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Farr, L.
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Oh, A.
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Ottolini, L.
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Smith, V.C.
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Van Peer, P.
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Kindermann, K.
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Barton, R.N.E., Lane, C.S., Albert, P.G., White, D., Collcutt, S.N., Bouzouggar, A., Ditchfield, P., Farr, L., Oh, A., Ottolini, L., Smith, V.C., Van Peer, P. and Kindermann, K. (2015) The role of cryptotephra in refining the chronology of Late Pleistocene human evolution and cultural change in North Africa. [in special issue: Synchronising Environmental and Archaeological Records using Volcanic Ash Isochrons] Quaternary Science Reviews, 118, 151-169. (doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.09.008).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Sites in North Africa hold key information for dating the presence of Homo sapiens and the distribution of Middle Stone Age (MSA), Middle Palaeolithic (MP) and Later Stone Age (LSA) cultural activity in the Late Pleistocene. Here we present new and review recently published tephrochronological evidence for five cave sites in North Africa with long MSA/MP and LSA cultural sequences. Four tephra horizons have been identified at the Haua Fteah (Cyrenaica, Libya). They include cryptotephra evidence for the Campanian Ignimbrite (CI) eruption dating to ?39 ka that allows correlation with other Palaeolithic sequences in the eastern Mediterranean and as far north as Russia. Cryptotephra have also been recorded from the Moroccan sites of Taforalt, Rhafas and Dar es-Soltane 1. At Taforalt the geochemical composition suggests a provenance in the Azores, while examples from Sodmein (Egypt) appear to derive from central Anatolia and another unknown source. In these latter examples chemical compositional data from relevant proximal volcanic centres is currently lacking so the identification of tephra in layers of known age and cultural association provides the first reliable age determinations for distal volcanic events and their geographical extent. The future potential for tephrochronological research in North Africa is also discussed.

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Accepted/In Press date: 4 September 2014
e-pub ahead of print date: 24 October 2014
Published date: 15 June 2015
Keywords: homo sapiens, tephrochronology, campanian ignimbrite (CI), middle stone age (MSA), middle palaeolithic (MP), later stone age (LSA), iberomaurusian
Organisations: Archaeology

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Local EPrints ID: 378140
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/378140
ISSN: 0277-3791
PURE UUID: 50c5aef0-76ea-4d4b-855b-bf510e32c0e1

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Date deposited: 17 Jun 2015 15:25
Last modified: 19 Jul 2019 20:41

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Contributors

Author: R.N.E. Barton
Author: C.S. Lane
Author: P.G. Albert
Author: D. White
Author: S.N. Collcutt
Author: A. Bouzouggar
Author: P. Ditchfield
Author: L. Farr
Author: A. Oh
Author: L. Ottolini
Author: V.C. Smith
Author: P. Van Peer
Author: K. Kindermann

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