TUKUL 1: African Prehistory

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Middle and Late Stone Age

In the Horn of Africa, particularly in Ethiopia and Somalia, several MSA and LSA sites were discovered in the last four decades. Most of these sites are found in caves, under rockshelters and others are exposed to open air surfaces. Almost all recorded information come from surface collection except for the findings from 2 way,  Porc Epic, Midhishi and Gud Gud sites. Today, studies on MSA and LSA attracted the attention of many archaeologists to the debate our such issues as the origins of anatomically modern humans, behaviour, adaptation, agriculture and state formation.  But, due to the marginalized nature of the research activities in the region, our knowledge on these prehistoric communities is still very limited.

Middle Stone Age (MSA)

200,000 years ago, in Africa south of the Sahara, hominids began to make a wider variety of small tools based on a flake technology. Some of these tools were hafted, such as a spear tips and knives. These industries differ from the preceding Acheulean period mainly in the absence of large bifacial tools. MSA in Ethiopia and the Horn persisted in some areas as late as 20,000 years ago. Gademotta MSA site, located in Central Ethiopian Rift Valley, is one of the oldest sites in the African continent, dated to 200,000 years ago. Other sites such as different localities of Melka Kunture, Porc Epic, and K’one in Ethiopia, Midhishi and Gud Gud in Somalia, are important sites yielding information about MSA communities in the Horn of Africa, where they developed distinct regional traditions.

Francis Hours and Maurice Taieb
MSA hominids are anatomically similar to modern humans, with however some noticeable differences especially in the skull. In Ethiopia and in the Horn of Africa sites with MSA hominid fossils are very rare. At Bodo, in the Middle Awash Valley, one partial skull and other bones have been dated to about 640,000 to 400,000 years. In the Kibish Formation (Lower Omo Basin), several fossils of Homo sapiens including two fairly complete skulls, have been dated to 130,000 years. In the Porc Epic Cave near Dire Dawa (Harar), a poorly preserved lower jaw has been dated to around 100,000 years.

Late Stone Age (LSA)

This is the last stage of the Stone Age. Around 40,000 years ago a new set of stone tools appeared in Africa, Europe and elsewhere. The hominids of this period utilized a microlithic blade technology. In Africa this new technology is called LSA, and corresponds to the European and Asian Upper Palaeolithic.
The LSA shows a highly diversified typology, and tools are now obtained through different lithic techniques. Generally, the LSA artifacts show further reduction in size and are used as composite tools, for example in the arrow-heads. 

Garba III
Artistic activities such as painting and sculpture were carried on at this time. Very ancient rock-paintings are known, for example, in the Apollo 11 Cave (Namibia). Changes in human behaviour occurred via social learning rather than through the slow process of biological evolution. The behaviour and technology of these populations were probably much like those of the present-day groups of hunters and gatherers.

Apollo 11 (Namibia)

Apollo 11 (Namibia)


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