Skip to main content
Log in

Reevaluating the Age of the Iberomaurusian in Morocco

  • Published:
African Archaeological Review Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Chronological evidence for the Iberomaurusian is currently very limited and there are problems with some of the published radiocarbon dates. In this paper we present new AMS dating results from well-stratified cave sequences at Ghar Cahal, Kehf el Hammar and Taforalt in northern and eastern Morocco. The longest of these sequences, from Taforalt, shows an intermittent occupation history spanning the period ca. 18,000–11,000 bp (radiocarbon determinations presented in this paper are expressed as ka bp or bp, whilst approximate calendar ages are expressed as Cal bp) with a marked intensification of cave use soon after ca. 13,000 bp. Using calibrated AMS ages in comparison to sea surface temperature evidence from the Alboran Sea core MD95-2043 and more generally to Greenland ice δ18O core records, we suggest that there may have been a relationship, albeit a complex one, between climatic events and cave activity on the part of Iberomaurusian populations.

Résumé

La chronologie de l’Ibéromaurusien est actuellement très limitée et certaines dates de radiocarbone publiées sont problématiques. Dans cet article, nous présentons de nouvelles datations AMS (spectrométrie de masse par accélérateur) provenant de séquences bien stratifiées des grottes du nord et de l’oriental est du Maroc: Ghar Cahal, Kehf el Hammar et Taforalt. La plus longue de ces séquences, celle de Taforalt, montre une occupation intermittente couvrant la période ca. 18,000 bp (dates de radiocarbone non corrigées1) avec une utilisation intensive de la grotte peu après ca. 13,000 bp (non corrigée). Ensuite, nous avons comparé les datations AMS corrigées aux indications de températures de surface marine calculées à partir du carottage MD95-2043 de la Mer d’Alboran et plus généralement, aux données de δ18O des carottages de glace du Groenland. Nous en déduisons qu’il pourrait y avoir des rapports, quoique complexes, entre les événements climatiques et l’intensité des activités ibéromaurusiennes dans ces grottes.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. Radiocarbon determinations presented in this paper are expressed as ka bp or bp, whilst approximate calendar ages are expressed as Cal bp.

References

  • Arambourg, C., Boule, M., Vallois, H., & Verneau, R. (1934). Les Grottes Paléolithiques des Beni-Segoual (Algérie). Archives de L’Institut de Paléontologie Humaine Mémoire 13.

  • Aura Tortosa, J. E., Jordá Pardo, J. F., Pérez Ripoll, M., Rodrigo García, M. J., Badal García, M. J., et al. (2002). The far south: The Pleistocene–Holocene transition in Nerja Cave (Andalucía, Spain). Quaternary International, 93–94, 19–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barton, R. N. E., Bouzouggar, A., Bronk-Ramsey, C., Collcutt, S. N., Higham, T. F. G., Humphrey, L. T., et al. (2007). Abrupt climatic change and chronology of the Upper Palaeolithic in northern and eastern Morocco. In O. Bar-Yosef, P. Mellars, C. Stringer, & K. Boyle (Eds.) Rethinking the human revolution: new behavioural & biological perspectives on the origins and dispersal of modern humans. Cambridge: Research Monographs of the Macdonald Institute.

  • Barton, R. N. E., Bouzouggar, J., Collcutt, S. N., Gale, R., Higham, T. F. G., Humphrey, L., et al. (2005). The late upper Palaeolithic occupation of the Moroccan northwest Maghreb during the last glacial maximum. African Archaeological Review, 22(2), 77–100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barton, R. N. E., Bouzouggar, A., Humphrey, L. T., Berridge, P, Collcutt, S. N, Gale, R, et al. (2008). Human burial evidence from Hattab II Cave (Oued Laou-Tétuoan, Morocco) and the question of continuity in Late Pleistocene–Holocene mortuary practices in Northwest Africa. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 18(2), 195–214.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blondel, J., & Aronson, J. (1999). Biology and wildlife of the Mediterranean Region. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bouzouggar, A, Barton, R. N. E., Collcutt, S. N., Parfitt, S., Higham, T. F. G., Rhodes, E., et al. (2006). Le Paléolithique Supérieur au Maroc: apport des sites du Nord-Ouest et de l’Oriental. In J.-L. Sanchidrián, A. Márquez, & J. M. Fullola (Eds.) La cuenca mediterránea durante el Paleolítico Superior (38.000 – 10.000 años) IV Simposio de Prehistoria Cueva de Nerja (Fundación Cueva de Nerja, & Málaga UISPP, Com.8, Málaga), pp. 138–150.

  • Bouzouggar, A., Barton, R. N. E., & De Araujo Igreja. (2008). A brief overview of recent research into the Aterian and Upper Palaeolithic of Northern and Eastern Morocco. In B. Barich (Ed.) Tra il Sahara e il Mediterraneo: il Jebel Gharbi (Libia) e l’Archeologia del Maghreb. Scienze dell’Antichità 12(2004–2005) (pp. 473–488). Rome: Edizioni Quasar.

  • Bouzouggar, A., Barton, N., Vanhaeren, M., d’Errico, F., Collcutt, S., Higham, T., et al. (2007). 82,000 year-old shell beads from North Africa and implications for the origins of modern human behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 104(24), 9964–9969.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brahimi, C. (1970). L’Ibéromaurusian littoral de la région d’Alger. (Mémoire du C.R.A.P.E. No 13.). Paris: Arts et Métiers Graphiques.

  • Bronk Ramsey, C. (2001). Development of the radiocarbon calibration program OxCal. Radiocarbon, 43, 355–363.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cacho, I., Grimalt, J. O., Pelejero, C., Canals, M., Sierro, F. J., Flores, J. A., et al. (1999). Dansgaard–Oeschger and Heinrich event imprints in Alborán Sea paleotemperatures. Paleoceanography, 14(6), 698–705.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Camps, G. (1974). Les civilisations préhistoriques de l’Afrique du Nord et du Sahara. Paris: Doin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Close, A. E. (1986). The place of the Haua Fteah in the Late Palaeolithic of North Africa. In G. N. Bailey, & P. Callow (Eds.), Stone age prehistory. Studies in memory of Charles McBurney (pp. 169–180). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Close, A. E., & Wendorf, F. (1990). North Africa at 18 000 BP. In C. Gamble, & O. Soffer (Eds.), The world at 18 000 BP, volume two: Low latitudes (pp. 41–57). London: Unwin Hyman.

    Google Scholar 

  • Courty, M. A., Goldberg, P., & Macphail, R. I. (1989). Soils and micromorphology in archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Debénath, A., Raynal, J. P., Roche, J., Texier, J.-P., & Ferembach, D. (1986). Stratigraphie, habitat, typologie et devenir de l’Atérien marocain: données récentes. L’Anthropologie, 90(2), 233–46.

    Google Scholar 

  • Denys, C., Dauphin, Y., Rzebik-Kowalska, B., & Kowlaski, K. (1996). Taphonomic study of Algerian owl pellet assemblages and differential preservation of some rodents: Palaeontological implications. Acta Zoologica Cracoviensia, 39, 103–116.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eiwanger, J. (2001). Préhistoire et protohistoire de la région du Rif oriental. 1ères Journées Nationales d’Archéologie et du Patrimoine à Rabat (Maroc), pp. 82–89.

  • Ferembach, D. (1985). On the origin of the Iberomaurusians (Upper Palaeolithic: North Africa). A new hypothesis. Journal of Human Evolution, 14, 393–397.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ferembach, D., Dastugue, J., & Poitrat-Targowla, M. J. (1962). La Nécropole Epipaléolithique de Taforalt (Maroc Oriental): Étude des squelettes humains. Rabat: Edita Casablanca.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gobert, E. G., & Vaufrey, R. (1932). Deux gisements extrêmes de l’Ibéromaurusian. L’Anthropologie XVII, 1–2, 449–490.

  • Goodfriend, G. A. (1987). Radiocarbon age anomalies in shell carbonate of land snails from semi-arid areas. Radiocarbon, 29, 159–167.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goodfriend, G. A., & Stipp, J. J. (1983). Limestone and the problem of radiocarbon dating of land-snail shell carbonate. Geology, 11, 575–577.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Görsdorf, J., & Eiwanger, J. (1998). Radiocarbon datings of Late Palaeolithic, Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic sites in Northeastern Morocco. Actes du colloque 14 C et Archéologie, Lyon. pp. 365–369.

  • Grébénart, D. (1975). Matériaux pour l’étude de l’Epipaléolithique et du Néolithique du littoral du Maroc saharien, L’Epipaléolithique méditerranéen, CNRS ed., pp. 151–188.

  • Grébénart, D. (1997). La Préhistoire du Sahara marocain septentrional et de ses bordures montagneuses. Etat des recherches en 1997, bibliographie. Préhistoire Anthropologie Méditerranéennes, 6, 121–140.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hachi, S. (1996). L’Ibéromaurusien, découverte des fouilles d’Afalou (Bédjaîa, Algérie). L’Anthropologie, 100, 55–76.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hadjouis, D. (2002). Hominids of upper Paleolithic of Afalou Bou Rhummel. New interpretation of cranio-facial cinetics and dental mutilation effects. L’Anthropologie, 106, 337–375.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Irish, J. D. (2000). The Iberomaurusian enigma: North African progenitor or dead end? Journal of Human Evolution, 39, 393–410.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jöris, O., Álvarez Fernández, E., & Weninger, B. (2003). Radiocarbon evidence for the middle to upper Palaeolithic transition in Southwestern Europe. Trabajos de la Prehístoria, 60(2), 15–38.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kingdon, J. (1997). The Kingdon field guide to African mammals. London: A & C Black Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kowalski, K., & Rzebik-Kowalska, B. (1991). Mammals of Algeria. Wroclaw: Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lubell, D. (2001). Late Pleistocene–Early Holocene Maghreb. In P. N. Peregrine, & M. Ember (Eds.), The encyclopedia of prehistory, vol. 1. Africa (pp. 129–149). New York: Kluwer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lubell, D., Sheppard, P., & Jackes, M. (1984). Continuity in the epipalaeolithic of northern Africa with an emphasis on the Maghreb. In F. Wendorf, & A. E. Close (Eds.), Advances in world archaeology, vol. 3 (pp. 143–191). New York: Academic.

    Google Scholar 

  • McBurney, C. B. M. (1967). The Haua Fteah (Cyrenaica) and the Stone Age of the south-east Mediterranean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mikdad, A., Moser, J., Nami, M., & Eiwanger, J. (2004). La stratigraphie du site d’Ifri n’Ammar (Rif Oriental, Maroc). Beiträge zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Archäologie, 24, 125–137.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moreno, A., Cacho, I., Canals, M., Grimalt, J. O., & Sanchez-Vidal, A. (2004). Millennial scale variability in the productivity signal from the Alboran Sea record, Western Mediterranean Sea. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 211, 205–219.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moser, J. (2003). La Grotte d’Ifri n’Ammar. Tome 1. L’Ibéromaurusien. Köln: Allgemeine und Vergleichende Archäologie-Forschungen Band 8.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ouchaou, B. (1998–1999). Note sur la faune de Ghar-Khal (Gar Cahal). Fouille de Tarradell (1954) et sondages de la MPPF (1988). Préhistoire Anthropologie Méditerranéennes, 7–8, 39–47.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pallary, P. (1909). Instructions pour la recherche préhistorique dans le Nord-Ouest de l’Afrique, Mémoires de la Société Historique Algérienne No. 3., Algiers.

  • Preece, R. C. (1991). Accelerator and radiometric radiocarbon dates on a range of materials from colluvial deposits at Holywell Coombe, Folkestone. Quaternary Proceedings, 1, 45–53.

    Google Scholar 

  • Raynal, J.-P. (1979–1980). Taforalt. Mission Préhistorique et paleontologique française au Maroc: rapport d’activité pour l’année. Bulletin d’Archéologie Marocaine, 12, 69–71.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reimer, P. J., Baillie, M. G. L., Bard, E., Bayliss, A., Beck, J. W., Bertrand, C. J. H., et al. (2004). IntCal04 terrestrial radiocarbon age calibration, 0–26 Cal Kyr BP. Radiocarbon, 46(3), 1029–1058.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roche, J. (1953). La grotte de Taforalt. Anthropologie, 57, 375–380.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roche, J. (1963). L’Epipaléolithique Marocaine. Lisbon: Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roche, J. (1967). L’Aterian de la grotte de Taforalt (Maroc oriental). Bulletin d’Archéologie Marocaine, 7, 11–56.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roche, J. (1969). Les industries paléolithiques de la grotte de Taforalt (Maroc oriental). Quaternaria, 11, 89–100.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roche, J. (1976). Cadre chronologique de l’Epipaléolithique marocain. Actes du IXè Congrès de l’UISPP: Chronologie et synchronisme dans la préhistoire circum-méditerranéenne, pp. 153–167.

  • Saxon, E. C., Close, A., Cluzel, C., Morse, V., & Shackleton, N. J. (1974). Results of recent excavations at Tamar Hat. Libyca, 22, 49–91.

    Google Scholar 

  • Slaoui, N. (1995). Etude de la faune de Kehf el Hammar: contribution à l’étude taphonomique, paléoécologique et chronologique. Campagne de Septembre/Octobre 1992. Mémoire de second cycle à l’Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine, Rabat.

  • Tarradell, M. (1954). Noticia sobre la excavación de Gar Cahal. Tamuda, 2, 344–358.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tarradell, M. (1955). Die Ausgrabung von Gar Cahal (“Schwarze Höhle”) in Spanisch Marokko. Germania, 33(2–2), 13–23.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ward, S. (2007). Reconstructing Late Pleistocene vegetation dynamics from archaeological cave sites in the Western Mediterranean: Links with climate and cultural changes. DPhil Doctoral thesis, University of Oxford.

Download references

Acknowledgements

AB thanks the Moroccan Ministry of Culture, INSAP, Prof. J Hassar Benslimane and Prof. A. Akerraz for their support. Funding for the fieldwork was provided partly by the Programme for the Support of Scientific Research (Grant No. PROTARS P32/09). NB acknowledges grant awards made by NERC (EFCHED programme, NER/T/S/2002/00700), British Academy (LRG 39859) and Oxford University’s Fell Fund. SP is grateful to Glenys Salter for help in processing samples and the Leverhulme Trust for its financial support. The authors also wish to thank Fiona Brock for help in calibrating the AMS dates.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. Bouzouggar.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bouzouggar, A., Barton, R.N.E., Blockley, S. et al. Reevaluating the Age of the Iberomaurusian in Morocco. Afr Archaeol Rev 25, 3–19 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10437-008-9023-3

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10437-008-9023-3

Keywords

Navigation