Vient de paraître (avril 2023)

Dachy T., Guéret C., Green W., Perrin T. (2023) ‒ Rethinking the Capsian: Lithic Variability Among Holocene Maghreb Hunter-Gatherers, African Archaeological Review.

Nota bene : cet article vient clore la publication des travaux réalisés dans le cadre du programme IDEX MeNeMOIA dirigé par Thomas Perrin en 2016 et 2017, préalablement à la mise en place de l’IRN DECAPAN lui-même / this article concludes the publication of the work carried out within the IDEX MeNeMOIA programme led by Thomas Perrin in 2016 and 2017, prior to the setting up of the DECAPAN IRN itself.


The Capsian, comprising the Typical Capsian and Upper Capsian facies, is a prominent North African prehistoric entity dating to the Early Holocene. Hundreds of rammadiyat (snail-shell mound) sites in eastern Algeria and Tunisia were occupied by Capsian hunter-gatherer communities. A significant technological change occurred at these sites during the mid-seventh millennium BCE. Pressure knapping, for producing a blade and trapeze lithic industry, emerged. This technique developed during the Mesolithic throughout the Mediterranean region. Understanding the earlier typological and technological variabilities and the exact timing of the emergence of pressure knapping is crucial in determining the local or foreign origin of this innovation in North Africa. Recent examination of legacy collections excavated in the Oum el Bouaghi area of Algeria during the interwar period fosters new perspectives on Capsian lithic industry variability. Our analyses document a complex lithic landscape for the Early Holocene, including a proposed “Central Early Capsian” facies for the early phases, as well as the persistence of strong regional variabilities in Upper Capsian lithic industries.


Le Capsien, qui englobe les faciès du « Capsien Typique » et du « Capsien Supérieur », représente l’une des principales entités préhistoriques africaines du début de l’Holocène. Des centaines de rammadiyat (amas de cendres et de coquilles d’escargots) situées en Algérie orientale et en Tunisie étaient occupés par des communautés de chasseur-cueilleurs capsiens. Au milieu du 7e millénaire avant notre ère, la culture matérielle associée à ces occupations connaît une mutation drastique avec l’apparition de la technique du débitage par pression utilisée pour produire une industrie lithique à lames et trapèzes. Cette technique se développe durant le Mésolithique dans toute la région Méditerranéenne. La connaissance de la variabilité typo-technologique antérieure ainsi que la détermination du moment exact de l’émergence du débitage par pression constituent des éléments cruciaux dans la quête de l’origine (locale ou importée) de cette innovation. Le réexamen récent d’anciennes collections récoltées dans la région d’Oum el Bouaghi (Algérie) durant l’entre-deux guerre ouvre de nouvelles perspectives sur la variabilité de l’industrie lithique capsienne. Nos analyses documentent un paysage lithique complexe au début de l’Holocène avec d’une part la mise en évidence d’un faciès ancien que nous proposons d’appeler « Capsien ancien central » et d’autre part le constat d’une persistance de fortes variabilités régionale dans les industries lithiques du Capsien supérieur.

Potential interactions between Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and Neolithic farmers in the Western Mediterranean: The geochronological data revisited

par Thomas Perrin et Claire Manen, Plos One (March 3, 2021)

In the Western Mediterranean, the Neolithic mainly developed and expanded during the sixth millennium BCE. In these early phases, it generally spread through the displacement of human groups, sometimes over long distances, as shown, for example, by the Impressa sites documented on the northern shores. These groups then settled new territories which they gradually appropriated and exploited. The question of their potential interaction with groups of Late Mesolithic hunter-gatherers living in the area prior to their arrival is therefore crucial. Were their encounters based on conflict and resistance or, on the contrary, on exchange and reciprocity? Many hypotheses have been put forward on this matter and many papers written. Before we can consider these potential interactions however, we must first ascertain that these different human groups really did meet—an implicit assumption in all these studies, which is, in reality, much less certain than one might think. The population density of the Late Mesolithic groups varied greatly throughout the Mediterranean, and it is possible that some areas were relatively devoid of human presence. Before any Neolithization scenarios can be considered, we must therefore first determine exactly which human groups were present in a given territory at a given time. The precise mapping of sites and the chronological modeling of their occupation enriches our understanding of the Neolithization process by allowing high-resolution regional models to be developed, which alone can determine the timing of potential interactions between Mesolithic and Neolithic groups. Various international research programs have recently produced several hundred new radiocarbon dates, based on selected samples from controlled contexts. The geochronological modelling of these data at the scale of the Western Mediterranean shows contrasting situations, probably related to different social and environmental processes. These results suggest that we should consider a varied range of Neolithization mechanisms, rather than uniform or even binary models.

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