Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Cyrenaican Prehistory Project 2012: the fifth season of investigations of the Haua Fteah cave

  • Graeme Barker (a1), Paul Bennett (a2), Lucy Farr (a1), Evan Hill (a3), Chris Hunt (a3), Giulio Lucarini (a4), Jacob Morales (a5), Giuseppina Mutri (a1), Amy Prendergast (a6), Alexander Pryor (a1), Ryan Rabett (a1), Tim Reynolds (a7), Pia Spry-Marques (a6) and Mohammed Twati (a8)...


The paper reports on the fifth (2012) season of fieldwork of the Cyrenaican Prehistory Project. The primary focus of the season was the continuation of the excavation of the prehistoric occupation layers in the Haua Fteah cave. A small trench (Trench U) was cut into Holocene (Neolithic) sediments exposed on the south wall of Charles McBurney's Upper Trench. Below this, the excavation of Trench M was continued, on the southern side of McBurney's Middle Trench. In previous seasons we had excavated Oranian ‘Epipalaeolithic’ layers dating to c. 18,000–10,000 BP (years before the present). In 2012 the excavation continued downwards through Dabban ‘Upper Palaeolithic’ occupation layers, one of which was associated with a post-built structure and likely hearths. There are indications of an occupational hiatus separating the oldest Dabban from the youngest Levallois-Mousterian (Middle Palaeolithic or Middle Stone Age) lithic material. The Deep Sounding excavated by Charles McBurney in 1955 was cleared of backfill to its base, and its south-facing wall was recorded in detail and sampled extensively for materials for dating and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. McBurney believed that he had reached bedrock at the base of the Deep Sounding, but a small sounding (Trench S) cut into the sediments below this level found further, albeit sparse, evidence for human occupation. Whilst the antiquity of ‘Pre-Aurignacian’ human occupation at the site still needs to be resolved, it seems likely to reach back at least to Marine Isotope Stage 5e, the beginning of the last interglacial (c. 130,000–115,000 BP). Important finds from the 2012 excavations in terms of the behavioural complexity of the human groups using the cave include a possible worked bone point from a Pre-Aurignacian layer and a granite rubbing stone in a Dabban layer from a source over 600 km from the cave.



Hide All
Aulagnier, S., Haffner, P., Mitchell-Jones, A.J., Moutou, F. and Zima, J. 2009. Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. A&C Black Publishers Ltd, London.
Barker, G., Hunt, C. and Reynolds, T. 2007. The Haua Fteah, Cyrenaica (northeast Libya): renewed investigations of the cave and its landscape, 2007. Libyan Studies 38: 93114.
Barker, G., Basell, L., Brooks, I., Burn, L., Cartwright, C., Cole, F., Davison, J., Farr, L., Grün, R., Hamilton, R., Hunt, C., Inglis, R., Jacobs, Z., Leitch, V., Morales, J., Morley, I., Morley, M., Pawley, S., Pryor, A., Reynolds, T., el-Rishi, H., Roberts, R., Simpson, D., Twati, M. and van der Veen, M. 2008. The Cyrenaican Prehistory Project 2008: the second season of investigations of the Haua Fteah cave and its landscape, and further results from the initial (2007) fieldwork. Libyan Studies 39: 175221.
Barker, G., Antoniadou, A., Barton, H., Brooks, I., Candy, I., Drake, N., Farr, L., Hunt, C., Ibrahim, A.A., Inglis, R., Jones, S., Morales, J., Morley, I., Mutri, G., Rabett, R., Reynolds, T., Simpson, D., Twati, M. and White, K. 2009. The Cyrenaican Prehistory Project 2009: the third season of investigations of the Haua Fteah cave and its landscape, and further results from the 20072008 fieldwork. Libyan Studies 40: 5594.
Barker, G., Antoniadou, A., Armitage, S., Brooks, I., Candy, I., Connell, K., Douka, K., Drake, N., Farr, L., Hill, E., Hunt, C., Inglis, R., Jones, S., Lane, C., Lucarini, G., Meneely, J., Morales, J., Mutri, G., Prendergast, A., Rabett, R., Reade, H., Reynolds, T., Russell, N., Simpson, D., Smith, B., Twati, M. and White, K. 2010. 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. Libyan Studies 41: 6388.
Barker, G., Albert, P., Armitage, S., Aubert, M., Cullen, V., Douka, K., Farr, L., Grün, R., Hill, E., Hunt, C., Inglis, R., Jacobs, Z., Kinsley, L., Lane, C., Reynolds, T., Roberts, R., Russell, N., Tomlinson, E. and Wulf, S. in preparation. Redating the Haua Fteah cave (Cyre-naica, northeast Libya) and its implications for the prehistory of North Africa.
Bar-Matthews, M., Ayalon, S. and Kaufman, A. 1997. Late Quaternary paleoclimate in the eastern Mediterranean region from stable isotope analysis of speleo-thems at Soreq Cave, Israel. Quaternary Research 47(2): 155-68.
Causse, C., Ghaleb, B., Chkir, N., Zouari, K., Ben Ouezdou, H. and Mamou, A. 2003. Humidity changes in southern Tunisia during the Late Pleistocene inferred from U-Th dating of mollusc shells. Applied Geochemistry 18: 1691–703.
De Vivo, B., Rolandi, G., Gans, P.B., Calvert, A., Bohrson, W.A., Spera, F.J. and Belkin, H.E. 2001. New constraints on the pyroclastic eruptive history of the Campanian volcanic Plain (Italy). Mineralogy and Petrology 73: 4765.
Garcea, E. (ed.) 2010. South-Eastern Mediterranean Peoples Between 130,000 and 10,000 Years Ago. Oxbow, Oxford.
Gasse, F. 2000. Hydrological changes in the African tropics since the Last Glacial Maximum. Quaternary Science Reviews 19(1–5): 189211.
Gasse, F. and Roberts, C.N. 2004. Late Quaternary hydrologic changes in the arid and semiarid belt of northern Africa: implications for past atmospheric circulation. In Diaz, H.F. and Bradley, R.S. (eds), The Hadley Circulation: Present, Past, and Future. Kluwer, Dordrecht: 313-45.
Henshilwood, C. and Sealy, J. 1997. Bone artefacts from the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, Southern Cape, South Africa. Current Anthropology 38(5): 890-95.
Henshilwood, C.S., Sealy, J.C., Yates, R., Cruz-Uribe, K., Goldberg, P., Grine, F.E., Klein, R.G., Poggenpoel, C., van Niekerk, K. and Watts, I. 2001. Blombos Cave, Southern Cape, South Africa: preliminary report on the 1992-1999 excavations of the Middle Stone Age levels. Journal of Archaeological Science 28: 421–48.
Hublin, J-J. 2000. Modern-Non-modern hominid interactions: a Mediterranean perspective. In Bar-Yosef, O. and Pilbeam, D. (eds), The Geography of Neanderthals and Modern Humans in Europe and the Greater Mediterranean. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Peabody Museum Bulletin 8, Cambridge (MA): 157-82.
Hulin, L., Timby, J. and Mutri, G. 2010. Western Marmarica Coastal Survey, 2010: preliminary report. Libyan Studies 41: 155–62.
Hunt, C.O., Davison, J., Inglis, R., Farr, L., Reynolds, T., Simpson, D., el-Rishi, H. and Barker, G. 2010. Site formation processes in caves: the Holocene sediments of the Haua Fteah, Cyrenaica, Libya. Journal of Archaeological Science 37(7): 16001611.
Inglis, R. 2012. Human Occupation and Changing Environments during the Middle to Later Stone Age: Soil Micromorphology at the Haua Fteah, Libya. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Cambridge.
Kingdon, J. 1982. East African Mammals, Volume III D. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Klein, R. and Scott, K. 1986. Re-analysis of faunal assemblages from the Haua Fteah and other Late Quaternary archaeological sites in Cyrenaican Libya. Journal of Archaeological Science 13: 515–42.
Lucarini, G. and Mutri, G. 2010. Preliminary observations on the Capsian, Oranian and final Dabban occupation in the Haua Fteah (Trench M): the lithic assemblages. Pp. 72-4 in G. Barker et al., 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. Libyan Studies 41: 6388.
Macklin, M.G., Fuller, I.C., Lewin, J., Maas, G.S., Passmore, D.G., Roe, J., Woodward, J.C., Black, S., Hamlin, R.H.B. and Rowan, J.S. 2002. Correlation of fluvial sequences in the Mediterranean basin over the last 200 ka and their relationship to climate change. Quaternary Science Reviews 21, 1633-41.
McBurney, C.B.M. 1967. The Haua Fteah in Cyrenaica. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Rahmani, N. 2003. Le Capsien Typique et le Capsien Supérieur: Evolution ou Contemporanéité ? Les Données Technologiques. British Archaeological Reports, International Series 1187 (Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 57), Oxford.
Rossignol-Strick, M. 1993. Late Quaternary climate in the eastern Mediterranean region. Palaéorient 19(1): 135-52.
Roubet, C. 1979. Economie Pastorale Préagricole en Algérie Orientale: le Néolitique de Tradition Capsi-enne. CNRS, Paris.
Shipman, P. and Rose, J. 1983. Early hominid hunting, butchering, and carcass processing behaviors: approaches to the fossil record. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 2: 5798.
Tixier, J. 1963. Typologie de l'Epipaléolithique du Maghreb. Mémoires du C.R.A.P.E. (II), Paris.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed