Awrana 2018 – Association of Archaeological Wear and Residue Analysts

Oral presentation – May, 31st:

Colas GUÉRET, Bernard GASSIN, Tiphaine DACHY, Thomas PERRIN, Juan F. GIBAJA, David LUBELL. Understanding the emergence of the Upper Capsian in the 7th millennium: functional perspective on a major moment in the prehistory of Maghreb

In Algeria and Tunisia, at the beginning of the Holocene, the “Capsian” period is characterised by very large sites formed by the accumulation of ashes and land snails on several meters thick. Within them, the hunter-gatherer groups have rejected bones and lithic remains and dug burials showing remarkable funerary traditions. Although these deposits were the subject of numerous publications until the 1970s, research subsequently dried up. It was not until the 2000s that the Capsian benefited from a renewed interest and took advantage of the scientific advances of the last decades, thanks to several publications of reference. The Capsian was finally divided into two groups: the Typical Capsian (Xth-VIIth mill.), characterised by a laminar industry knapped with hammer stone and robust tools (backed knives and bladelets, burins and scrapers), followed by the Upper Capsian (7th-6th millennium), marked by the appearance of the pressure technique for bladelet knapping and by a renewed toolkit (trapezes, triangles and notched blades). At present, there is no consensus to explain the sudden emergence of this new technology: local invention, dissemination of ideas or arrival of new populations have all been mentioned. As part of the MeNeMOIA program (from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic in the Western Mediterranean: the African impact, IDEX Toulouse), this technical break has been approached by lithic use-wear analysis for the first time. The first results, obtained at Kef Zoura D (Algeria), confirm the many differences between Typical and Upper Capsian, both in tools design and use. This communication proposes to cross these functional results with the data derived from the technology and the study of the raw materials in order to address the modalities of the emergence of the Upper Capsian and the socio-economic transformations that it implied.