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Technological organization and sedentism in the Epipalaeolithic of Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt

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Abstract

At Dakhleh Oasis in south-central Egypt, a group of ‘Epipalaeolithic’ or ‘Masara’ sites featuring stone-built structures suggests a degree of sedentism that was unusual for the Eastern Sahara in early Holocene times. The paper investigates this apparent increased sedentism by focusing on the organization of lithic technology within the three Masara units defined in the oasis, including that with which the stone structures are associated. Information on three aspects of technological organization — the acquisition of raw material, core reduction sequences, and the portability of the resulting toolkits — when combined with evidence on other artifact categories and on site features and locations, points to a dramatic dichotomy within the Masara between small, highly mobile groups that ranged far beyond the oasis (Masara A), and a more sedentary element (Masara C), consisting of groups confined for at least part of the year to a particularly favoured locale in south-eastern Dakhleh.

Résumé

A l'oasis de Dakhleh, en Egypte Sud-Centrale, un groupe de sites Epipaléolithiques ou ‘Masara’ a livré des structures en pierre qui suggèrent un degré de sédentarisation peu courant pour l'Est du Sahara au début de l'Holocène. Cet article étudie l'accroissement apparent de la sédentarisation en se concentrant sur l'organisation de la technologie lithique au sein des trois unités ‘Masara’ définies dans l'oasis, y compris celle associée aux cercles de pierre. L'acquisition de la matière première, les séquences de réduction des nucleus, et le transport des outils qui en résultent sont des informations sur trois aspects de l'organisation technologique qui une fois combinées avec les données obtenues à partir d'autres catégories d'artefacts lithiques, de la configuration et de la situation du site, mettent en évidence une dichotomie très claire au sein du ‘Masara’ entre des groupes petits et très mobiles qui se déplacaient bien au delà du périmeètre de l'oasis (Masara A) et un elément beaucoup plus sédentaire (Masara C) consistant en des groupes confinés pour au moins une partie de l'année dans un site particulièrement apprécié de la partie sud-est de Dakhleh.

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McDonald, M.M.A. Technological organization and sedentism in the Epipalaeolithic of Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt. Afr Archaeol Rev 9, 81–109 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01117216

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Keywords

  • Holocene Time
  • Cultural Study
  • Site Feature
  • Reduction Sequence
  • Technological Organization