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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 5 (1) 2007

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S. Kouti & E. Huysecom

Ounjougou, Mali: new data on bifacial point production in the southern Sahara during the Middle Holocene

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 5 (1), 2007, pages 3-15, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10083

Abstract
To date, archaeological sites dated between the 7th and 4th millennia cal BC are rare in West Africa. The Neolithic workshop of Promontoire at Ounjougou, Mali, had specialized in the bifacial shaping of armatures on sandstone, a local raw material. This industry was discovered in the upper section of a sequence of mixed fine red loess, dated near the site within an interval between the 6th and 4th millennia cal BC (OSL date of 6.3 ± 0.8 ka), while the geomorphological analysis of the zone and the insertion of the site into neighbouring sequences by radiocarbon dating yield a terminus ante quem of 3500 cal BC, confirming the attribution of the sequence to the Middle Holocene. While typological similarities exist between this bifacial industry and those of the Tilemsi Valley, the Windé Koroji, in southwest Nigeria and the Kintampo culture in Ghana, there remains a significant chronological discrepancy. Moreover, the archaeological material from West African sites contemporaneous with Promontoire Néolithique is most often characterized by a microlithic industry. In the present state of knowledge, the industry of Promontoire Néolithique, chronologically isolated, falls within a dynamic of population movement or influences preceding the current aridity, perhaps as-sociated with climatic changes that took place during the Middle Holocene between the 6th and 3rd millennia cal BC.

Résumé
Dans l'état actuel de nos connaissances, les sites archéologiques datés entre les 7e et 4e millénaires cal BC sont rares en Afrique occidentale. L'atelier de taille néolithique du site du "Promontoire Néolithique" à Ounjougou, Mali, était spécialisé dans le façonnage bifacial d'armatures en grès, une matière première locale. Cette industrie a été découverte dans la partie supérieure d'une séquence de loess rouges fins remaniés, datés à proximité du gisement dans un intervalle compris entre le 6e et le 4e millénaire cal BC (OSL 6.3 ± 0.8 ka), tandis que l'étude géomorphologique de la zone et de l'insertion du site au sein des séquences voisines bien datées par la méthode du 14C, nous livre un terminus ante quem de 3500 cal BC, confirmant une attribution à la séquence de l'Holocène moyen. Si des ressemblances typologiques existent entre cette industrie bifaciale et celles de la vallée du Tilemsi, du faciès de Windé Koroji, du Sud-Ouest nigérien ou de la culture de Kintampo au Ghana, nous constatons cependant un décalage chronologique bien marqué. Par ailleurs, le matériel archéologique des sites ouest africains contemporains du "Promontoire Néolithique" est le plus souvent caractérisé par une industrie microlithique. Dans l'état actuel des connaissances, l'industrie du "Promontoire Néolithique", isolée au niveau chronologique, s'intègre dans une dynamique soit de mouvements de populations, soit de jeux d'influences antérieurs au déclenchement de l'aride actuel, peut-être liés aux changements climatiques qui ont lieu au cours de l'Holocène moyen entre le 6e et le 3e millénaire cal BC.




Keywords: bifacial industry, lithics, Middle Holocene, Neolithic, southern Sahara


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