The Middle Stone Age in the Eastern Desert. EDAR 135 — a buried early MIS 5 horizon from Sudan
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionAzania. 2022, 57 (2), 155-196. 10.1080/0067270X.2022.2078561
Middle Stone Age (MSA) lithic artefacts coming from dated layers preserved in their original stratigraphic position are still rare in Northeast Africa in general and in Sudan in particular. This paper aims to present the results of technological and functional analyses of an assemblage coming from a stratigraphic context, i.e. the upper level of the EDAR (Eastern Desert – Atbara River) 135 site, discovered in an abandoned gold mining pit in the Sudanese Eastern Desert, approximately 70 km east of the town of Atbara. The assemblage, which is based on locally available quartz and rhyolite, comes from a layer bracketed by OSL dates of 116 ± 13 and 125 ± 11 kya. Such dating places it within Marine Isotope Stage 5e–5d. Analysis of the assemblage revealed several characteristics that seem to set it apart from other MSA Northeast African inventories. Among these, the dominance of simple, non-predetermined core reduction strategies and expedient tool types, coupled with the lack of traces of Nubian Levallois technique, are the most conspicuous. Micro-traces of use on animal and plant matter were preserved on some of the tools. EDAR 135 is part of a newly discovered complex of sites that confirms the presence of Middle and Late Pleistocene hominins along one of the possible routes out of Africa towards Eurasia.