A brief summary of the earliest Neolithic settlements in the Eastern Sahara

A brief summary of the earliest Neolithic settlements in the Eastern Sahara

A Fred Wendorf paper. Although he supports an early neolithic domestication in the Sahara of cattle he admits in other sources the evidence isn’t great, just suggestive.

The paper was written before the 11,500 year old pots turned up in Mali (I’m still not happy with that dating method) which seems to be associated with the mechtoid people of the Sahara who reached as far south as Niger and Mali during the Saharan wet phase. This also dates the arrival of barley at about 8,000 bp, which would suggest that there are neolithic farming sites further north a touch older than that (barley is near Eastern in origin). This would date the neolithic arrival in Egypt to before the 7,000 year old oldest known Egyptian site near Fayum. 

potmali

Red marks the oldest Malian pottery spot. Other pottery yielding sites are marked on the map. Nabta is marked also (inside Egypt).

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One response to “A brief summary of the earliest Neolithic settlements in the Eastern Sahara

  1. Pottery is not definitory of Neolithic. There is Neolithic without pottery (Natufian PPNA and later PPNB) and there are other cultures where pottery is known without Neolithic (Jomon culture of Japan notably, with pottery dated to c. 9000 BCE).

    Otherwise, it’s interesting to know that true Neolithic (i.e. barley ciltivation) is as old as 6000 BCE in the Sahara, what is older than Cardium Pottery and can well imply other, inland, routes for Neolithic difussion in Africa.

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