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The Cyrenaican Prehistory Project 2009: the third season of investigations of the Haua Fteah cave and its landscape, and further results from the 2007–2008 fieldwork

  • Graeme Barker (a1), Annita Antoniadou (a2), Huw Barton (a3), Ian Brooks (a4), Ian Candy (a5), Nicholas Drake (a6), Lucy Farr (a1), Chris Hunt (a2), Abdulsaid Abdulhamid Ibrahim (a7), Robyn Inglis (a8), Sacha Jones (a1), Jacob Morales (a9), Iain Morley (a1), Giuseppina Mutri (a10), Ryan Rabett (a1), Tim Reynolds (a11), David Simpson (a2), Mohammed Twati (a12) and Kevin White (a13)...

Abstract

The paper reports on the third (2009) season of fieldwork of the Cyrenaican Prehistory Project, and on further results from the analysis of materials collected in the previous (2007 and 2008) fieldwork. Sediments in a 14 m-deep core drilled beside the McBurney trench provide an invaluable overview of the overall stratigraphic sequence, including at depths reached by the 1950s Deep Sounding but not yet investigated by the present project. Sampling of newly-exposed faces of the original excavation trench for dating (14C, ESR, OSL, U-series) and palaeoenvirommental indicators continued. Excavation was begun of sediments assigned to the early Holocene Libyco-Capsian (McBurney's Layer X), and of Pre-Aurignacian layers beside the top of the Deep Sounding. The Libyco-Capsian layers are particularly prolific in lithic debris, shells, and animal bones; preliminary analysis of the lithics suggests a development from Typical to Upper Capsian within the layers excavated in 2009. Geoarchaeological survey along the littoral to the west and east of the Haua Fteah identified complex sequences spanning most of the last interglacial-glacial cycle. Geoarchaeological survey south of the Haua Fteah characterized the major landforms of the Gebel Akhdar mountain and of the pre-desert and desert-edge zones further south, with Late Stone Age (Upper Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic) material being found especially on the southern side of the Gebel Akhdar, and Middle Stone Age (Middle Palaeolithic) material in the pre-desert and desert regions. The first suite of 14C dates (from charcoal samples taken in 2007) indicates the use of the Haua Fteah by Oranian hunter-gatherers during the Last Glacial Maximum and in the succeeding millennia, but not in the Younger Dryas cold/dry phase (c. 11,000–10,000 cal. BC), with Libyco-Capsian occupation resuming soon after the beginning of the Holocene c. 9000 cal. BC, suggesting that the cave, and perhaps the Gebel Akhdar in general, have a complex history as refugia for human settlement during the Pleistocene.

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