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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 37–71 | Cite as

A Middle Stone Age occupation site at Porc Epic Cave, Dire Dawa (east-central Ethiopia)

  • J. Desmond Clark
  • Kenneth D. Williamson
  • Joseph W. Michels
  • Curtis A. Marean
Article

Abstract

This paper describes the results of the 1974 excavations at Porc Epic Cave, Dire Dawa. Following a summary of Dr M.A.J. Williams' interpretation of the stratigraphic succession and geological history of the cave and its contained deposits, the cultural sequence is described and an explanatory model presented. The 1974 excavation showed the Middle Stone Age layers to be sealed under a massive dripstone, except in the front part of the cave where erosion and later deposition had produced the seeming mixing of Middle and Later Stone Age artifacts observed by the 1933 excavators. Artifacts are associated with comminuted and often burnt bone round what appear to be hearths. Tools consist predominantly of points, scrapers and edge damaged blade and flake forms. The specialized nature of the retouched and utilized tools, together with the relative inaccessibility of the cave and the comminuted nature of the bone waste, suggest the possible use of the cave as a hunting camp at seasons when game migrated into the escarpment from the Afar Plains. The wide-ranging habits of the occupants are attested by the presence of obsidian and basalt artifacts, the raw material for which is not found in the immediate vicinity of the site. On the basis of the human jaw fragment discovered in 1933, the Middle Stone Age occupants of the cave are said to show both neanderthal and non-neanderthal features. Hydration dates for obsidian artifacts from the Middle Stone Age deposit indicate that the cave was occupied between about 61,000 and 77,500 bp. These results confirm that the Proc Epic occurrences are of comparable age to those from Middle Stone Age localities in other parts of the continent.

Keywords

Stratigraphic Succession Burnt Bone Flake Form Proc Epic Obsidian Artifact 
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

Cet article décrit les résultats des fouilles de 1974 à la grotte du Porc Epic, à Dire Dawa. Suivant un résumé de l'interprétation de la succession stratigraphique compilé par M. A. J. Williams et l'histoire géologique de la grotte et de ses dépôts, la séquence culturelle est décrite et un modèle explicatif est présenté. La fouille de 1974 a révélé que les couches du Middle Stone Age ont été scellées sous une épaisse couche de concrétion calcaire, sauf dans la partie avant de la caverne où l'érosion et une déposition ultérieure ont produit le mélange apparent des outillages du Middle et du Later Stone Age observé par les fouilleurs en 1933. Les industries sont associés à des fragments d'os souvent brûlés, autour de ce qui semble être des foyers. Les outils consistent surtout de pointes, de grattoirs et de formes de lames et d'éclats à bords endommagés. La nature spécialisée des outils retouchés et utilisés, ainsi que l'inaccessibilité relative de la grotte et l'aspect fragmenté des restes osseux, suggèrent l'usage possible de la grotte comme camp de chasse durant les saisons de migration du gibier vers l'escarpement des plaines des Afars. Les déplacements des occupants sur un vaste terrain sont attestés par la présence d'outils en obsidienne et en basalte, deux matériaux qui ne sont pas trouvés dans les environs immédiats du site. En se fondant sur un fragment de mâchoire humaine découvert en 1933, les occupants de la grotte au Middle Stone Age semblent démontrer des traits néanderthaliens et non-néanderthaliens. Les dates obtenues par la méthode d'hydratation des pièces en obsidienne provenant du dépôt du Middle Stone Age indiquent que la grotte fut occupée entre environ 61,000 et 77,500 bp. Ces résultats confirment que les activités dans la grotte du Porc Epic sont d'un âge comparable à celles des localités du Middle Stone Age trouvées ailleurs dans le continent.

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Copyright information

© Cambridge University Press 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Desmond Clark
  • Kenneth D. Williamson
  • Joseph W. Michels
  • Curtis A. Marean

There are no affiliations available

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