October 16, 2012

Nubian Complex reduction strategies in Dhofar, southern Oman (Usik et al. 2012)

From the paper:
If there was no Nubian Complex occupation in Egypt during the MIS 5de5b hiatus, from where did the Egyptian Late Nubian, dating no earlier than MIS 5a, come? Did it spread north from Sudan or was there an expansion of Arabian Nubian Complex toolmakers back into Africa? Certainly, the striking similarities between the Classic Dhofar Nubian and Egyptian Late Nubian, as compared with the Sudanese Late Nubian, might indicate such a scenario. Again, greater chronological resolution in African and Arabian Nubian assemblages is required to answer these questions.   
It seems overly simplistic to expect the expansion of Nubian Complex toolmakers into Arabia was a single migration or event; rather, it was more likely a process of recurring bidirectional movements across the Red Sea linked to consecutive phytogeographic range expansions and contractions. At the same time, the presence of technologically distinct, non-Nubian industries elsewhere in Arabia from MIS 5a to MIS 3 indicates separate, autochthonous culture groups and/or input from other adjacent regions (Marks, 2009; Armitage et al., 2011; Petraglia et al., 2011; Delagnes et al., 2012). In the case of the Wadi Surdud stratified assemblages in Yemen, dated tow60e40 ka BP (Delagnes et al., 2012), and Jebel Faya successive assemblages B and A, bracketed within MIS 3 (Armitage et al., 2011), both archaeological sequences are thought to be the products of local lithic traditions. Clearly, Late Pleistocene demography in Arabia was far more complex than one population emanating from a single source area.   
For now, it is clear that the Afro-Arabian Nubian Complex exhibits a robust archaeological signature on both sides of the Red Sea, in terms of site density, distribution, and long-term technological variability, always based on the core principal of opposed platform exploitation. This is likely the result of populations who were well and truly established in their respective regions for an extended period of time. Perhaps we have made too much of tracking routes of expansion and the timing of sea crossings into Arabia. The Red Sea may be more of a barrier for scholars today than it ever was for humans in the Middle Stone Age. 
Related comment (my emphasis):

Nubian technology has been found in association with a modern human child within occupation Phase 3 at the site of Taramsa 1 in Egypt. Science would suggest they're modern. Unless, of course, one is willing to propose an entirely new species that occupied NE Africa 100,000 years ago? 
Nubian technology has now been identified in central Arabia (article in press by Crassard and Hilbert) and seems to be spread across central and eastern Yemen as well. The Mudayyan Industry, published in Usik et al. 2012, falls sometime after the Nubian occupation of Dhofar and is clearly derived from Nubian Levallois technology. Moreover, this particular technology governed by bidirectional recurrent Levallois blank production is interpreted as the transition from Middle Palaeolithic Levallois to Upper Palaeolithic blade reduction as exemplified at Initial Upper Palaeolithic sites in the Levant such as Boker Tachtit and Ain Difla. Essentially, the Nubians in Arabia have provided the technological missing link for the MP-UP transition in the Levant. 
So, Nubians entered Arabia sometime between 130 - 100 ka and appear to have subsequently expanded northward during the early MIS 3 wet phase that would have facilitated north-south demographic exchange throughout the Peninsula. As for the Out of Arabia expansion eastward, this is still anyone's guess. We can be sure it wasn't related to Nubian Complex toolmakers.

Quaternary International doi:dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2012.08.2111

Nubian Complex reduction strategies in Dhofar, southern Oman

Vitaly I. Usik et al.

Between 2010 and 2012, the Dhofar Archaeological Project has located and mapped 260 Nubian Complex occurrences across Dhofar, southern Oman. Many of these lithic assemblages are technologically homologous to the Late Nubian Industry found in Africa, while others may represent a local industry derived from classic Nubian Levallois technology. The purpose of this paper is to describe the various reduction strategies encountered at a sample of Nubian Complex sites from Dhofar, to explore inter-assemblage variability, and, ultimately, to begin to articulate technological units within the “Dhofar Nubian Tradition.” To achieve this aim, we have developed an analytical scheme with which to describe variability among Nubian Levallois reduction strategies. From our analysis, we are able to discern at least two distinct industries within a regional lithic tradition. Demographic implications of the enduring Dhofar Nubian Tradition are considered in light of new evidence found throughout the Arabian Peninsula.


No comments: