Technological and Cultural Change Among the Last Hunter-Gatherers of the Maghreb: The Capsian (10,000–6000 B.P.)
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This paper focuses on the controversy surrounding the chronological interpretation of two subdivisions of a North African Epipaleolithic culture: Typical Capsian and Upper Capsian. Although originally defined as two evolutionary phases on the basis of stratigraphy, since the development of absolute dating methods they have been considered as contemporaneous. A new approach to the lithic technology of collections from the “classic” sites of Bortal Fakher, El-Mekta, Relilaï, and Aïn Dokkara allows us to redefine the industry and the traditional chronology. A wide-reaching comparison including major Capsian sites, and based on cultural attribution, chronology, and lithic technology, supports our preliminary results. Around 8000 B.P., a technological change occurred, corresponding with an environmental shift, and calls into question the contemporaneity of Typical and Upper Capsian. The causes, mechanisms, and implications of this technological change are integrated into a broader discussion leading to more questions about the way of life of the makers of the Capsian, their cultural evolution, and their persistence as hunter-gatherers in a Neolithic world.
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