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The Cyrenaican Prehistory Project 2010: the fourth season of investigations of the Haua Fteah cave and its landscape, and further results from the 2007–2009 fieldwork

  • Graeme Barker (a1), Annita Antoniadou (a2), Simon Armitage (a3), Ian Brooks (a4), Ian Candy (a3), Kate Connell (a5), Katerina Douka (a6), Nicholas Drake (a7), Lucy Farr (a1), Evan Hill (a2), Chris Hunt (a2), Robyn Inglis (a5), Sacha Jones (a1), Christine Lane (a6), Giulio Lucarini (a8), John Meneely (a2), Jacob Morales (a9), Giuseppina Mutri (a8), Amy Prendergast (a5), Ryan Rabett (a1), Hazel Reade (a5), Tim Reynolds (a10), Natalie Russell (a3), David Simpson (a2), Bernard Smith (a2), Chris Stimpson (a5), Mohammed Twati (a11) and Kevin White (a12)...

Abstract

The paper reports on the fourth (2010) season of fieldwork of the Cyrenaican Prehistory Project, and on further results of analyses of artefacts and organic materials collected in the 2009 season. Ground-based LiDar has provided both an accurate 3D scan of the Haua Fteah cave and information on the cave's morphometry or origins. The excavations in the cave focussed on Middle Palaeolithic or Middle Stone Age ‘Pre-Aurignacian’ layers below the base of the Middle Trench beside the McBurney Deep Sounding (Trench D) and on Final Palaeolithic ‘Oranian’ layers beside the upper part of the Middle Trench (Trench M). Although McBurney referred to the upper part of the Deep Sounding as more or less sterile, the 2010 excavations found evidence for small-scale but regular human presence in the form of stone artefacts and debitage, though given the sedimentary context the latter are unlikely to represent in situ knapping. The excavations of Trench M extended from the basal Capsian layers investigated in 2009 through Oranian layers to the transition with the Dabban Upper Palaeolithic. Some 17,000 lithic pieces have been studied from the Capsian and Oranian layers excavated in Trench M, in an area measuring less than 2 m by 1 m by 1.1 m deep, along with numerous animal bones, molluscs, and macrobotanical remains, as well as occasional shell beads. Preliminary studies of the lithics, bones, molluscs, and plant remains are revealing the changing character of late Pleistocene (Oranian) and early Holocene (Capsian) occupation in the Haua Fteah. Alongside the work in the Haua Fteah, the project continued its assessment of the Quaternary and archaeological sequences of the Cyrenaican coastland and completed a transect survey of surface lithic materials and their landform contexts from the pre-desert across the Gebel Akhdar to the coast, with a new focus on the al-Marj basin. Significant differences are emerging in patterns of Middle Palaeolithic and later hominin occupation and palaeodemography.

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