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Title: Evidence of stone tools and cutmraked bones from Early Pleistocene deposits (2.2-1.95 ma) at Ain Boucherit, Algeria; and their implications on the earliest human settlements in North Africa
Authors: Sahnouni, Mohamed
Duval, Mathieu
Parés, Josep María
Made, Jan van der
Pérez-González, Alfredo
Derradji, Abdelkader
Abdessadok, Salah
Cáceres, Isabel
Medig, Mohamed
Harichane, Zoheir
Kandi, Nadia
Boulaghraief, Kamel
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: CENIEH
Citation: II Meeting of African Prehistory, 2015, p. 47
Abstract: Paleoanthropological investigations at Ain Hanech and El Kherba (Algeria) have yield the oldest known archaeological occurrences in North Africa, dated to circa 1.7 million years ago (Ma). The recent fieldwork carried out in the nearby Ain Boucherit deposits has resulted in the recovery of even much older stone tools and cutmarked bones, spanning from 2.2 to 1.95 Ma. The new archaeological occurrences come from two stratigraphic units: Unit P/Q and Unit R. Unit P/Q is stratigraphically situated 13 m below the Ain Hanech and El Kherba Oldowan bearing deposits, which also corresponds to the Ain Boucherit fossil bearing stratum from which both Pomel (in the 1890s) and Arambourg (in the 1930s) collected fossil bones.Within this same unit, in addition to a diverse and open landscape fauna, we also collected in situ Mode I stone artifacts and cutmarked bones encased in a fine silty matrix. Excavations in Unit R, located 7 m above the classic fossiliferous Ain Boucherit stratum (Unit P/Q) and 6m below Ain Hanech and El Kherba Oldowan localities (Unit T), yield animal associated with a rich Mode I lithic assemblage found in floodplain deposits. The unit R fauna shows more affinities that of Unit P/Q and preserves several cutmarked and hammerstone-percussed bones. Magnetostratigraphy, mammalian biochronology, and Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) dating methods were used for constraining the age of the Ain Boucherit archaeological occurrences. The magnetostratigraphic study was carried out on 22 m thick section, beginning just below Unit P/Q from the bottom all the way up to the calcrete deposits, which also caps the section. The occurrence of both normal and reversed polarities provides solid correlations of the local magnetic polarity stratigraphy with the Global Polarity Scale (GPTS). The results show that Unit P/Q dates to the Matuyama Reversed Chron, and Unit R to the onset of the Olduvai Normal Subchron. The Ain Hanech and El Kherba sites, located higher up in the section, area near the top of the Olduvai Subchron, and the calcrete deposits with Acheulean artifacts are within the pre-Jaramillo Subchron (Clr). Based on biochronological evidence, the age of Ain Boucherit is estimated to ~2.2 Ma for Unit P/Q and ~1.95 Ma for Unit R. Furthermore, the preliminary ESR dating results on optically bleached quartz grains extracted from sediments, based on the combination of both the AI and Ti centers, are consistent with the paleomagnetic and biochronology age estimated, particularly for Unit P/Q. In addition, fossil teeth were collected from the excavation from Unit R for combined US-ESR dating and laboratory analysis is underway. Thus, currently the Ain Boucherit materials represent the oldest archaeological occurrences north of the East African Rift, showing that ancestral hominins inhabited the Mediterranean fringe in North Africa much earlier than previously thought.
Type: Presentation
Appears in Collections:Congresos, encuentros científicos y estancias de investigación

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