African Archaeological Review

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 177–191 | Cite as

Lithic Evidence for the Peopling of Northern Ethiopia

  • Laurel PhillipsonEmail author
Original Article


A comparative study of lithic assemblages from the Gash Delta lowlands of eastern Sudan and from Seglamen in the highlands of northern Ethiopia is used to investigate the origins of the pre-Aksumite people and their anonymous predecessors. Multiple similarities in knapping strategies and in lithic tool types support the hypothesis of a south-eastward movement of agro-pastoralists into the highlands of the Tigray Plateau, probably starting in the fifth millennium BC.


African demography Aksum Aksumite Gash Delta Kassala Lithics Pre-Aksumite Seglamen 


Pour examiner les origines du peuple pré-axoumite et leurs prédécesseurs, on a étudié deux assemblages lithiques trouvés au Gash Delta en Soudan oriental et à Seglamen dans les hautes terres de l’Éthiopie du nord. Les stratégies de débitage et la typologie des outils ont plusieurs similitudes; on peut conclure que les premiers agro-pasteurs sont arrivés au Plateau Tigray, pendant la cinquième millénaire avant JC, par un mouvement vers le sud-est à partir des basses terres soudanaises.



I extend grateful thanks to Dr. L. Sernicola for preparing the map of the northern Tigray Plateau and relevant sites (Fig. 1), Professors A. Manzo and R. Fattovich for inviting me to examine the lithic artefacts from Kassala, and P. Fusco for facilitating this examination. Particular thanks are offered to Professor Fattovich for sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm and for providing information on the dating and interpretation of the Gash Group sites.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North YorkshireUK

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