Advertisement

African Archaeological Review

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 81–109 | Cite as

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

  • Mary M. A. McDonald
Article

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.

Keywords

Holocene Time Cultural Study Site Feature Reduction Sequence Technological Organization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bamforth, D. B. 1986. Technological efficiency and tool curation.American Antiquity 51:38–50.Google Scholar
  2. Banks, K. M. 1984.Climates, Cultures and Cattle: the Holocene archaeology of the Eastern Sahara. Dallas: Department of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University.Google Scholar
  3. Barich, B. E. 1987.Archaeology and Environment in the Libyan Sahara: the excavations in the Tadrart Acacus, 1978–1983. Oxford: BAR International Series 368.Google Scholar
  4. Binford, L. R. 1977. Forty-seven trips: a case study in the character of archaeological formation processes. InStone Tools as Cultural Markers: change, evolution and complexity (ed. R. V. S. Wright): pp. 24–36. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.Google Scholar
  5. Binford, L. R. 1978.Nunamiut Ethnoarchaeology. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  6. Binford, L. R. 1979. Organization and formation processes: looking at curated technologies.Journal of Anthropological Research 35:255–73.Google Scholar
  7. Binford, L. R. 1980. Willow smoke and dogs' tails: hunter-gatherer settlement systems and archaeological site formation.American Antiquity 45:4–20.Google Scholar
  8. Binford, L. R. and Stone, N. M. 1985. ‘Righteous rocks’ and Richard Gould: some observations on misguided ‘debate’.American Antiquity 50:151–3.Google Scholar
  9. Brookes, I. A. 1989. Early Holocene basinal sediments of the Dakhleh Oasis region, South Central Egypt.Q.R. 32:139–52.Google Scholar
  10. Butzer, K. W. 1976.Early Hydraulic Civilization in Egypt: a study in cultural ecology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Caton-Thompson, G. 1952.Khârga Oasis in Prehistory. London: Athlone Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chatters, J. C. 1987. Hunter-gatherer adaptations and assemblage structure.Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 6:336–75.Google Scholar
  13. Clark, J. D. 1980. Human populations and cultural adaptations in the Sahara and Nile during prehistoric times. InThe Sahara and the Nile: Quaternary environments and prehistoric occupation in northern Africa (eds M. A. J. Williams and H. Faure): pp. 527–82. Rotterdam: Balkema.Google Scholar
  14. Clark, J. E. 1986. Politics, prismatic blades, and Mesoamerican civilization. InThe Organization of Core Technology (eds J. K. Johnson and C. A. Morrow): pp. 259–84. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  15. Flannery, K. V. 1972. The origins of the village as a settlement type in Mesoamerica and the Near East: a comparative study. InMan, Settlement and Urbanism (eds P. J. Ucko, R. Tringham and G. W. Dimbleby): pp. 23–53. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  16. Gabriel, B. 1987. Palaeoecological evidence from neolithic fireplaces in the Sahara.A.A.R. 5:93–103.Google Scholar
  17. Gilman, P. A. 1987. Architecture as artifact: pit structures and pueblos in the American Southwest.American Antiquity 52:538–64.Google Scholar
  18. Gould, R. A. and Saggers, S. 1985. Lithic procurement in Central Australia: a closer look at Binford's idea of embeddedness in archaeology.American Antiquity 50:117–36.Google Scholar
  19. Hassan, F. A. 1986. Desert environment and origins of agriculture in Egypt.Norwegian Archaeological Review 19:63–76.Google Scholar
  20. Hassan, F. A. and Gross, G. T. 1987. Resources and subsistence during the Early Holocene at Siwa Oasis, Northern Egypt. InPrehistory of Arid North Africa: essays in honor of Fred Wendorf (ed. A. Close): pp. 85–103. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Haynes, C. V., Jr. 1987. Holocene migration rates of the Sudano-Sahelian wetting front, Arba'in Desert, Eastern Sahara. InPrehistory of Arid North Africa: essays in honor of Fred Wendorf (ed. A. Close): pp. 69–84. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hestor, J. J. and Hoebler, P. 1969. Prehistoric settlement patterns in the Libyan Desert.University of Utah Anthropological Papers, No. 92.Google Scholar
  23. Hitchcock, R. K. 1982. Patterns of sedentism among the Basarwa of eastern Botswana. InPolitics and History in Band Societies (eds E. Leacock and R. Lee): pp. 223–67. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Holl, A. 1989. Social issues in Saharan Prehistory.Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 8:313–54.Google Scholar
  25. Kelly, R. L. 1983. Hunter-gatherer mobility strategies.Journal of Anthropological Research 39: 277–306.Google Scholar
  26. Kleindienst, M. R. In press. Pleistocene archaeology and geoarchaeology of the Dakhleh Oasis: a status report. InDakhleh Oasis Project Interim Reports, Volume 1 (eds A. J. Mills and C. S. Churcher). Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum.Google Scholar
  27. Kuper, R. 1981. Untersuchungen zur Besiedlungsgeschichte die östlichen Sahara.Beiträge zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Archäologie 3:215–75.Google Scholar
  28. Kuper, R. 1988. When Sudan was Egypt's land. Environmental change and human culture in the Abu Ballas area. Paper presented at theInternational Symposium ‘Environmental Change and Human Culture in the Nile Basin and Northern Africa until the 2nd Millennium BC’. Poznan.Google Scholar
  29. McCartney, P. H. and Glass, M. F. 1990. Simulation models and the interpretation of archaeological diversity.American Antiquity 55:521–36.Google Scholar
  30. McDonald, M. M. A. 1982. Dakhleh Oasis Project: third preliminary report on the lithic industries in the Dakhleh Oasis.Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities 12:115–38.Google Scholar
  31. McDonald, M. M. A. 1983. Dakhleh Oasis Project: fourth report on the lithic industries in the Dakhleh Oasis.Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities 13:158–66.Google Scholar
  32. McDonald, M. M. A. 1985. Dakhleh Oasis Project: Holocene prehistory: interim report on the 1984 and 1986 seasons.Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities 15:126–35.Google Scholar
  33. McDonald, M. M. A. In press a. Dakhleh Oasis Project: Holocene prehistory: interim report on the 1988 and 1989 seasons.Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities.Google Scholar
  34. McDonald, M. M. A. In press b. Systematic reworking of lithics from earlier cultures in the Early Holocene of Dakhleh Oasis.J. F. A. Google Scholar
  35. Mills, A. J. 1984. Research in the Dakhleh Oasis. InOrigin and Early Development of Food-Producing Cultures in North-eastern Africa (eds L. Krzyzaniak and M. Kobusiewicz): pp. 205–10. Poznan: Polish Academy of Sciences.Google Scholar
  36. Morrow, C. A. and Jefferies, R. W. 1989. Trade or embedded procurement?: a test case from southern Illinois. InTime, Energy and Stone Tools (ed. R. Torrence): pp. 27–33. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Neumann, K. 1989. Vegetationsgeschichte der Ostsahara im Holozän — Holzkohlen aus prähistorischen Fundstellen. InForschungen zur Umweltgeschichte der Ostsahara (ed. R. Kuper): pp. 13–181. Köln: Heinrich-Barth-Institut.Google Scholar
  38. Parry, W. J. and Kelly, R. L. 1987. Expedient core technology and sedentism. InThe Organization of Core Technology (eds J. K. Johnson and C. A. Morrow): pp. 285–304. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  39. Peters, J. 1988. The palaeoenvironment of the Gilf Kebir-Jebel Uweinat area during the first half of the Holocene: the latest evidence.Sahara 1:73–6.Google Scholar
  40. Rafferty, J. E. 1985. The archaeological record on sedentariness: recognition, development, and implications.Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 8:113–56.Google Scholar
  41. Roset, J.-P. 1987. Paleoclimatic and cultural conditions of Neolithic development in the Early Holocene in Northern Niger (Aïr and Ténéré). InPrehistory of Arid North Africa: essays in honor of Fred Wendorf (ed. A. Close): pp. 211–34. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Shott, M. 1986. Technological organization and settlement mobility: an ethnographic examination.Journal of Anthropological Research 42:15–51.Google Scholar
  43. Tixier, J. 1963. Typologie de l'Epipaléolithique du Maghreb. Mémoires du Centre de Recherches Anthropologiques, Préhistoriques et Ethnographiques, No. 2. Paris: Arts et Métiers Graphiques.Google Scholar
  44. Torrence, R. 1983. Time budgeting and hunter-gatherer technology. InHunter-Gatherer Economy in Prehistory: a European perspective (ed. G. Bailey): pp. 11–22. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Trigger, B. G. 1983. The rise of Egyptian civilization. InAncient Egypt: a social history (eds B. G. Trigger, B. J. Kemp, D. O'Connor, and A. B. Lloyd): pp. 1–69. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Van Noten, F. 1978.Rock Art of the Jebel Uweinat. Graz: Akademische Druck und Verlagsanstalt.Google Scholar
  47. Vermeersch, P. M. 1978.Elkab II. L'Elkabien, Epipaléolithique de la Vallée du Nil Egyptien. Leuven Fondation Egyptologique Reine Elisabeth.Google Scholar
  48. Vermeersch, P. M. 1984. Subsistence activities on the Late Palaeolithic sites of Elkab (Upper Egypt). InOrigin and Early Development of Food-Producing Cultures in North-Eastern Africa (eds L. Krzyzaniak and M. Kobusiewicz): pp. 137–42. Poznan: Polish Academy of Sciences.Google Scholar
  49. Wendorf, F. and Schild, R. 1976.Prehistory of the Nile Valley. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  50. Wendorf, F. and Schild, R. 1980.Prehistory of the Eastern Sahara. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  51. Wendorf, F., Schild, R. (assemblers) and Close, A. (ed.) 1984.Cattle-Keepers of the Eastern Sahara: the Neolithic of Bir Kiseiba. Dallas: Department of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University.Google Scholar
  52. Wenke, R. J., Long, J. E. and Buck, P. E. 1988. Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic subsistence and settlement in the Fayyum Oasis of Egypt.J.F.A. 15:29–51.Google Scholar
  53. White, R. 1982. The manipulation of burins in incision and notation.Canadian Journal of Anthropology 2:129–35.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Cambridge University Press 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary M. A. McDonald

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations