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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 1–24 | Cite as

On Microlithic Quartz Industries at the End of the Pleistocene in Central Africa: The Evidence from Shum Laka (NW Cameroon)

  • Els Cornelissen
Article

Abstract

The rock shelter of Shum Laka, situated in the Grassfields of northwestern Cameroon, was occupied during the later Pleistocene and Holocene. Plant remains reveal that there were no drastic changes in the immediate environment of the shelter between 30,000 and 10,000 bp. The industry is microlithic during this entire period. Quartz was deliberately chosen as the preferred raw material and there were no changes in technology or raw material usage over time. A comparison with similar sites in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo reveals that the microlithic quartz tradition was apparently appropriate for the exploitation of a wide variety of environmental settings. This flexibility may represent an adequate technological response to the environmental changes in Central Africa at the end of the Pleistocene.

L'abri sous roche de Shum Laka, situé dans les Grassfields au nord-ouest du Cameroun, a été occupé depuis la fin du Pléistocène. Les restes de plantes montrent qu'il n'y a pas eu de changements importants dans l'environnement immédiat de l'abri entre 30,000 et 10,000 bp. L'industrie est microlithique pendant toute cette période. Le choix du quartz comme matière première préferentielle était délibéré par ailleurs, ni la technologie, ni l'utilisation des matières premières n'ont subi de modifications conséquentes au cours de cette période. Une comparaison avec des sites similaires du nord-est de la République Démocratique du Congo nous montre que la tradition microlithique sur quartz aurait été appropriée dans l'exploitation d'une grande variété d'écosystèmes. Cette flexibilité pourrait traduire une réponse technologique adéquate face aux changements environnementaux qui ont eu lieu en Afrique Centrale à la fin du Pléistocène.

late Pleistocene early Holocene Central Africa microlithic quartz industry Shum Laka 

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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

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  • Els Cornelissen

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