African Archaeological Review

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 3–43 | Cite as

Increased Sedentism in the Central Oases of the Egyptian Western Desert in the Early to Mid-Holocene: Evidence from the Peripheries

  • Mary M. A. McDonaldEmail author
Original Article


Two locations adjacent to the great central oases of the Egyptian Western Desert experienced an unusual period of sedentism in the early to mid-Holocene. Around the Southeast Basin near Dakhleh Oasis and in the Wadi el-Midauwara above Kharga, areas sharing close cultural ties, groups of slab structure sites attest to increased sedentism spanning 2,500 years. Kharga seems to have been settled fairly continuously through the two and a half millennia, but little is known of subsistence practices in this location. Dakhleh experienced two episodes of increased sedentism. Early Holocene Masara groups occupied a well-watered location within a generally dry desert. In the wetter mid-Holocene, Bashendi settlers in large stone-built sites hunted, collected wild cereals, and may have kept herds. As the desert dried after 5300 BC, the settlers switched to a life of mobile forager-herders.


Dakhleh and Kharga Oases Egypt Epipalaeolithic and ‘Neolithic’ Early to mid-Holocene Increased sedentism 



The work reported here was supported by the National Geographic Society, Grant # 7765-04, the Dakhleh Trust, the University of Calgary Department of Archaeology and, in the 2008 season, the University Research Grants Committee of the University of Calgary. I am very grateful for this support. My thanks also for the help and support of A. J. Mills, Director of the Dakhleh Oasis Project, and to my colleagues of the Dakhleh Oasis Project and the Kharga Oasis Prehistoric Project. I would like to thank two anonymous reviewers, both of whom provided important and helpful comments and suggestions.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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