African Archaeological Review

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 169–194 | Cite as

The Aterian from the Jebel Gharbi (Libya): New Technological Perspectives from North Africa

  • Enza E. SpinapoliceEmail author
  • Elena A. A. Garcea
Original Article


The purpose of this work is to examine the Aterian complex in the context of modern human origins through the analysis of the lithic industries from a geographically strategic area, the Jebel Gharbi (Libya). From a chronological point of view, the Aterian fits the time period of the Out of Africa 2 dispersal. During geoarchaeological surveys of the Jebel Gharbi carried out by the Italian–Libyan Archaeological Mission, 25 Aterian sites were found. The technology of the Aterian lithic industries from the Jebel Gharbi shows affinities both with the Aterian industries from Morocco and coeval industries from Egypt such as Taramsa. The affinities between contemporary Libyan Aterian industries, Egyptian industries, and some series from the Levant open new perspectives on the possible models of contact and displacement of human groups in a key period for the history of humankind.


Middle Atone Age Aterian Lithic technology North Africa Libya 


L’objectif de ce travail est d’examiner l’Atérien dans le contexte des origines de l’homme moderne à travers l’analyse des industries lithiques du Jebel Gharbi (Libye). D’un point de vue chronologique, l’Atérien est contemporaine aux migrations hors d’Afrique. Vingt-cinq sites atériens ont été répertoriés durant les prospections geoarchéologiques du Jebel Gharbi par la Mission Archéologique Italo-Libyenne. L’analyse technologique de ces industries montre des affinités avec les sites atériens du Maroc, mais aussi avec les sites contemporaines d’Egypte, tel que Taramsa. Ces points en commun qui lies des sites libyens, avec les autres sites d’Afrique du Nord, ouvrent des nouvelles perspectives sur les déplacements et les contacts entre les groupes humaines d’une période clé pour l’histoire de l’humanité.



Enza Spinapolice analyzed the lithic assemblages described in the present paper during her stay at the University of Cassino, in the frame of a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme. Elena Garcea provided the information regarding the sites in the Jebel Gharbi, the investigation methods during fieldwork, and previous results on the geology, archaeology, and chronology of the area. Fieldwork in the Jebel Gharbi took place thanks to a Licence for Archaeological Excavation from the Department of Antiquities in Libya (Law of Antiquities No. 3) to the Italian-Libyan Archaeological Project in the Jebel Gharbi, co-directed by B.E. Barich and E.A.A. Garcea. The authors wish to thank S. McPherron for helpful comments and support provided during the drafting of this paper, as well as T. Tsanova for the drawings. Our thanks are also due to the three anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human EvolutionMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Lettere e FilosofiaUniversità di Cassino e del Lazio MeridionaleCassinoItaly

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