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Climate, Environment, and Population Dynamics in Pleistocene Sahara

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Africa from MIS 6-2

Abstract

The study area witnessed alternate paleoenvironmental and population events influenced by glacial/interglacial conditions. Paleosols, relict fluvial bodies, lacustrine carbonatic deposits, sand dunes, and other features underline the severely fluctuating activity of water resources. The study region (SW Libya) provides two different data sets: (1) two stratified, dated, Middle Stone Age/Aterian sites; and (2) hundreds of surface lithic scatters rarely associated with paleoenvironmental proxies. Early/Middle Pleistocene human occupation is presumable, but the bulk of evidence is from the late Middle/Late Pleistocene. Productive environments possibly housed human groups with a Late Acheulean technology during MIS 7. Most of the MSA evidences are barely diagnostic from a techno-typological point of view. Exceptions are made for scanty but precise similarities with sub-Saharan early MSA finds, suggesting the presence of modern humans in MIS 6, and for the Aterian, an example of MIS 4 arid landscape adaptation. Although MIS 3/2 post-Aterian human presence is not demonstrable, signs of a generalized LSA technology are recognizable in the Messak, where stony raw materials could have attracted task-specific temporary occupants.

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Acknowledgments

The present chapter is the outcome of a series of fieldwork and laboratory analyses over more than 20 years. We thank all of the colleagues of the Libyan Department of Archaeology for their help and support. The research has been carried out under the aegis of the Italian-Libyan Archaeological Mission in the Acacus and Messak, directed since 2002 by SDL, and it has been funded by several bodies: Sapienza University of Rome (Grandi Scavi), which holds the permit of survey and excavations in the Acacus and Messak; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGPCC); the Ministry of University and Research (Cofin, PRIN); the CNR; and the University of Milan. Our thanks to Alessandro Perego for drawing Fig. 7.1. We thank Stefano Biagetti and Marina Gallinaro for their comments on the manuscript draft. We thank Sacha Jones and Brian Stewart for inviting SDL to attend the conference and submit a paper, and we thank three anonymous reviewers for their careful review and valuable comments and suggestions. The paper was designed and written by SDL, with contributions by EC (archaeological analysis), MC, and AZ (geoarchaeological and paleoenvironmental data). MC and SDL provided the original and unpublished dataset of the geoarchaeological contexts discussed herein. This work is dedicated to all of our Libyan friends.

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Correspondence to Savino di Lernia .

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Cancellieri, E., Cremaschi, M., Zerboni, A., di Lernia, S. (2016). Climate, Environment, and Population Dynamics in Pleistocene Sahara. In: Jones, S., Stewart, B. (eds) Africa from MIS 6-2. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-7520-5_7

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