Programmes > Par auteur > Barton R. Nicholas

The MSA to LSA transition in North Africa, with special reference to Taforalt cave
Nick Barton, R. Nicholas Barton  1, *@  , Abdeljalil Bouzouggar  2, *@  , Simon Collcutt  3@  , Louise Humphrey  4@  , Jacob Morales  5@  , Alison Roberts  6@  
1 : University of Oxford
2 : INSAP & University of Rabat
3 : Independent consultant
4 : Natural History Museum, London
5 : University of Gran Canaria
6 : Ashmolean Museum
* : Auteur correspondant

A longstanding debate in Africa concerns the precise chronological and cultural relationship of the MSA (Middle Stone Age) to the LSA (Later Stone Age). In sub-Saharan Africa, this is sometimes because there is a question over the definition of the LSA or it is a matter of poor chronological control (for recent discussion see, Tryon and Faith 2016; Loftus et al. 2016; Pargeter and Redondo 2015). In North Africa, the matter is potentially clearer because there appears to be less variation in the LSA (Bouzouggar et al. 2008; Barton et al. 2016). In broad terms, the North African MSA is represented by Levallois flake and blade industries that sometimes contain small cores and a range of potential projectile forms such as bifacial foliates and tanged points that define the Aterian. These industries which date from at least 130 ka are attributed to early forms of Homo sapiens. In contrast, the LSA (25-10 ka Cal BP) is identified with a more recent demographic expansion of modern humans into North Africa (Maca-Meyer et al. 2003; Pereira et al. 2010) and is associated with a microlithic bladelet culture known as the Iberomaurusian. Previously it had been believed that a considerable time gap of more than 20 ka separated these cultural entities but, as a result of recent fieldwork and dating programmes at Taforalt and other sites, this hiatus has been considerably narrowed, raising the possibility of greater continuity in human populations from the MSA to LSA. In this paper we discuss the MSA to LSA transition at Taforalt and the occurrence of a lithic technology that falls within this timespan. The latter appears to have few direct counterparts in North Africa. It contains well-made adzes and triangular-sectioned tools that show some morphological parallels with Lupemban picks. 



Barton, R.N.E., Bouzouggar, A., Collcutt, S.N., Carrion Marco, Y, Clark-Balzan, L.,

Debenham, N.C., Morales, J. 2016. Reconsidering the MSA to LSA transition at Taforalt

Cave (Morocco) in the light of new multi-proxy dating evidence. Quaternary International



Bouzouggar, A., Barton, R.N.E., Blockley, S., Bronk-Ramsey, C., Collcutt, S.N., Gale, R.,

Higham, T.F.G., Humphrey, L.T., Parfitt, S., Turner, E., Ward, S., 2008. Reevaluating the

age of the Iberomaurusian in Morocco. Afr. Archaeol. Rev. 25, 3-19.


Loftus, E., Sealy, J., Lee-Thorp, J. 2016. New Radiocarbon Dates and Bayesian Models for

Nelson Bay Cave and Byneskranskop 1: Implications for the South African Later Stone Age

Sequence. Radiocarbon 58, 2, 365-381.


Maca-Meyer, N., González, A.M., Pestano, J., Flores, C., Larruga, J.M., Cabrera, V.M.,

2003. Mitochondrial DNA transit between West Asia and North Africa inferred from U6

phylogeography. BMC Genet. 4 (1), 15.


Pargeter, J., Redondo, M., 2015. Contextual approaches to studying unretouched

bladelets: a case study from Sehonghong rockshelter, Lesotho. Quaternary International

(in press).


Pereira, L., Silva, N.M., Franco-Duarte, R., Fernandes, V., Pereira, J.B., Costa, M.D.,

Martins, H., Soares, P., Behar, D.M., Richards, M.B., Macaulay, V., 2010. Population

expansion in the North African Late Pleistocene signalled by mitochondrial DNA haplogroup

U6. BMC Evolutionary Biology 10, 390.


Tryon, C.A., Faith, J.T., 2016 A demographic perspective on the Middle to

Later Stone Age transition from Nasera rockshelter, Tanzania. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B371:


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