Holocene Prehistory in the Télidjène Basin, Eastern Algeria Capsian occupations at Kef Zoura D and Aïn Misteheyia
edited by David Lubell. vi+226 pages; illustrated throughout in black & white with 4 colour plates. Papers in English and French. 239 2016. Available both in printed and e-versions.
Printed ISBN 9781784913731. £38.00 (No VAT). Epublication ISBN 9781784913748. £19.00 (Inc. UK VAT)
From 1972 to 1979, field work was conducted in the Télidjène Basin, Eastern Algeria, as part of a project called The Prehistoric Cultural Ecology of Capsian Escargotières. The primary objective was the controlled excavation of two stratified Capsian sites, the open-air escargotière Aïn Misteheyia (1973 and 1976) and the rock shelter Kef Zoura D (1976 and 1978), both of which have remained incompletely published until now. Aïn Misteheyia and Kef Zoura D have proven to be key sites in a discussion that has been ongoing since at least the 1930s when Vaufrey published his interpretation of Capsian stratigraphy, trying to understand if there was a temporal succession between the Capsien typique and the Capsien supérieur. These are the only Capsian escargotières excavated with modern methods and extensive radiocarbon dating that have a clear stratigraphic sequence in which both variants of the Capsian are represented. We show that Capsien typique precedes Capsien supérieur, that the latter saw the introduction of a new technique for the production of blanks (pressure flaking), that the change is more-or-less contemporary with the 8200 cal BP cold event, and that it was accompanied by a subtle change in a subsistence regime of continued foraging despite the introduction of some herding of apparently introduced domestic stock in neighbouring regions that suggests the changes observed at these two sites may have eventually led in some areas to the introduction of Neolithic subsistence patterns, although there is as yet no clear evidence for this in the central Capsian area of eastern Algeria and southern Tunisia. Aïn Misteheyia was described in two previous reports in Libyca, but the artifact illustrations were never published and appear here as an addendum. Four chapters describe the chronology, stratigraphy, lithic, faunal and charcoal assemblages from Kef Zoura D. In addition, there are chapters analyzing the well preserved assemblages of worked bone from the Capsien supérieur deposits at both sites as well as the small assemblages of marine shell. One chapter is a reprinted paper that originally appeared in Sahara on an engraved stone plaque from Kef Zoura D, and a final chapter is the first report on an ongoing study of use-wear in the lithic assemblage from Kef Zoura D.
About the Editor:
David Lubell (Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta and Adjunct Professor, University of Waterloo) received his PhD in 1971 from Columbia University. He has directed archaeological field work in Algeria, Portugal and Italy, always with an emphasis on the inter-relationship of human groups with their environments as reflected in their subsistence patterns and the analysis of the artifacts they made and used. In collaboration with Mary Jackes, he has expanded his horizons to take into account the bioarchaeology and palaeodemography of the human populations involved. He has also made a decades-long study of the occurrence of edible land snails in Holocene archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean region and is convinced (but unable yet to prove) that their presence in abundance represents a part of the transition from foraging to food production.
'This volume is a detailed and convincing interdisciplinary presentation of important archaeological material, illustrated with numerous very informative, high-quality figures.' -Jörg Linstädter (Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 2017)
'The major achievement of this book is the systematic description of well stratified Capsian sites, offering a high-resolution representation of the transformation of this horizon from the beginning, during the Early Holocene, until its evolved phase... The book is undoubtedly an important entry point for the research in Kef Zoura and at the same time a significant contribution to the knowledge of the Holocene of Algeria.' -Giuseppina Mut