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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. 7 (2) 2009

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F. Diez-Martín, M. Domínguez-Rodrigo, P. Sánchez, A.Z.P. Mabulla, A. Tarriño, R. Barba, M.E. Prendergast & L. de Luque

The Middle to Later Stone Age technological transition in East Africa. New data from Mumba Rockshelter Bed V (Tanzania) and their implications for the origin of modern human behavior

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 7 (2), 2009, pages 147-173, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10136

Abstract
Recent re-excavation of Mumba Rockshelter unearthed an unbiased lithic sample from Bed V. Technological analysis has permitted a reinterpretation of the so-called Mumba Industry, a transitional industry between Middle and Later Stone Ages originally defined by Mehlman (1989). Our data confirm Mehlman's observation that the "evolutionary" markers in Mumba Bed V are basically typological. However, our study differs from his in that we classify all of Bed V as LSA based on the combined analyses of typology and technology in our excavated assemblage. From a technological perspective, no changes have been observed throughout the sequence, and continuity is the main technological characteristic of the series. The only transitional marker from Lower through Upper Bed V is the appearance of the geometric crescent in the latter, taking into account that microliths exist throughout the sequence. This evidence casts some doubts on previous interpretations and underscores the need to recover a larger sample using modern excavation techniques. It also stresses the need to define the MSA/LSA transition in better terms, combining techno-typological criteria.

Résumé
Des fouilles récentes effectuées dans l'abri de Mumba ont permis de recueillir une collection lithique qui ne soit pas biaisé dans le niveau V.  L'analyse technologique de cette collection nous a permis de réinterpréter l'industrie dite de Mumba, une industrie de transition entre le Middle et le Later Stone Age, définie à la base par Mehlman (1989). Nos donnés confirment les conclusions de Mehlman selon lesquelles à Mumba V les marqueurs évolutifs sont plutôt typologiques. Néanmoins, notre étude diffère de la sienne car nous concluons que toute la séquence du niveau V peut être attribuée au LSA, selon les  données typologiques et technologiques pour nous recueillies. Du côté de la technologie nous n'avons observé aucun changement important dans la séquence, étant donné que la continuité est la caractéristique la plus remarquable de toute la série. Le seul indice marquant la transition est l'apparition des microlithes géométriques dans la partie supérieure du niveau, bien que la présence de microlithes ait été reconnue tout au long de la séquence. Cette évidence permet de questionner les interprétations précédentes et de mettre en évidence la  nécessité des nouvelles données issues de techniques archéologiques modernes. Nos résultats montrent aussi le besoin d'une définition plus détaillée de la transition MSA/LSA, en utilisant des critères technologiques et typologiques.




Keywords: East Africa, Later Stone Age, lithic technology, LSA, Middle Stone Age, modern human behavior, MSA, Mumba Rockshelter, technological transition


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