Sunday, October 23, 2005

Stone Age Cemetery, Artifacts Unearthed in Sahara

Archaeologists have excavated a trove of Stone Age human skeletons and artifacts on the shores of an ancient lake in the Sahara.

The seven nearby sites include an extensive cemetery and represent one of the largest and best preserved concentrations of ancient skeletons and artifacts ever found in the region, researchers say.

Harpoons, fishhooks, pottery, jewelry, stone tools, and other artifacts pepper the ancient lakeside settlement. The objects were left by early communities that once thrived on the former lake's abundant fish and shellfish.

Sounds like a great site. Apparently Neolithic, but the text is confusing as to whether these wree true Neolithic people. The date(s) been put at between 10-5k BP, which would work for Neolithic, and there is pottery and grinding stones. But, we all know how tricky basing entire subsistence practices on a few artifact types can be. Mention is made of domesticated animals but it's not clear whether these were associated with these remains or not. EIther way, it seems to be fairly extensive at least seasonal occupations. It seems similar to habitations found by Wendorf et al. around some of the now-dessicated playa lakes in the western deserts of Egypt and elsewhere: basically semi-sedentary herders who utilized permanent or semi-permanent lacustrine resources as part of their seasonal round. Interesting that there are so many burials at this one spot though. Probably a site to keep watching.