Prehistoric Nubia.

Archived info, text by Fred Wendorf.

Nubian Early Stone Age:

The sites of this stage are typologically and technologically within the range of the Acheulean complex and share many resemblances with the Middle and Late Acheulean from further south, especially Klor Abu Anga near Khartoum, Sudan. No living sites of this group are known, only quarries and workshops. Ferrocrete sandstone was preferred for tool production, although quartz was also important in some sites. Bifaces were the most common tools, while cleavers, trihedral forms, and para-Levallois flakes are rare. Levallois technology appears during the middle phase of this stage and becomes increasingly important thereafter. Nubian Early Stone Age sites occur only in the Older Pediments. None are known to occur within the silts of the river.

Nubian Middle Stone Age:

 This stage is generally equivalent to the Middle Paleolithic elsewhere. It contains four distinct industries the Nubian Mousterian, Denticulate Mousterian and the Nubian Middle Paleolithic and the Khormusan. The latter has affinities with the Sangoan-Lupemban of central and west Africa; the first two are more similar to the Mousterian complexes of the Near East and Europe. The first three of these industries share the following features: a nearly complete absence of handaxes (these are replaced by biface foliates or flake tools); a strong preference for ferrocrete sandstone for tools; and a frequent use of Levallois technology (although this varies among the three industries of this stage). Sites of these three industries occur only in the Older Pediments. The Khormusan sites occur imbedded in the oldest Nile silts known in the part of the Valley and are believed to date between 65,000 and 55,000 years old. Khormusan sites record a diverse food economy.
They contain an abundance of fish remains as well as numerous bones of wild cattle, gazelle and hartebeest. In addition to the typical wide, flat Levallois flakes, the Khormusan sites contain numerous burins (a kind of engraving tool), scrapers and perforators.

Nubian Upper Stone Age:

Three distinct industries are also included in this stage: the Khormusan, the Gemian, and the Sebilian. Each of these industries is markedly different from the others, but as a group they share an emphasis on medium-sized flakes for the manufacture of tools; the biface foliates of the preceding stage are gone, and there are no true geometric, microlithic, or backed microblade tools characteristic of later stage. Except for the Sebilian, which differs sharply from all other known lithic assemblages in Nubia, sites of this stage yield increasing frequencies of artifacts made on Nile pebbles, while burins, endscrapers, and retouched points occur commonly in one or the other industries. The Sebilian retains the emphasis on ferrocrete sandstone preferred during the earlier stages, and the tools of this industry emphasized various kinds of truncations. These differences have led to the suggestion that the Sebilians were an outside, non-Nilotic group who briefly intruded into the area. In some respects they have close affiliations to some of the industries known farther south in central Africa -especially the Tshitolian.

Nubian Final Stone Age:

This stage contains four distinct industries: the Halfan, the Qadan, the Arkinian, and the Shamarkian. All of these industries share a tendency for the retouched tools to be microlithic, suggesting extensive use of composite tools. They also all make frequent use of microblades and bladelets in the manufacture of finished tools, and Nile chert pebbles were used almost exclusively as raw material for these tools. The Nile and its resources, especially fish, become increasingly important, and it is during this stage that the first use of ground grain occurs. There is an overlap in time between the Nubian Final Stone Age and the preceeding Nubian Upper Stone Age. The earliest Nubian Final Stone Age sites (the Halfan) occur in situ in Nile silts and have radiocarbon dates of around 17,000 B.G., while the Nubian Upper Stone Age probably begins before 20,000 B.G., but survives as a technological stage represented by the Sebilian, as late as 9,000 B.G.

Nubian Ceramic Age:

This stage includes at least three distinct lithic industries in Nubia. Pottery, the diagnostic feature of this stage, first appears in the final phase of the Shamarkian industry, and is also present in two distinct and seemingly contemporary groups named the Abkan and Khartum Variant. Both the Shamarkian and Abkan ceramics appear to be stimulated by Egyptian sources; however, the Khartum Variant pottery clearly is similar to that of Shaheinab in central Sudan. All three industries share an emphasis on large flake tools, and the Abkan and Shamarkian sites are dramatically larger than those known previously in Nubia. This change of settlement size may indicate the appearance in Nubia of a new economic resource -possibly cultivation.

Nubian ‘eggshell’ ceramics, coloured with ochre.

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