Acheulian sites adjacent to Tabelbala in the Tachenghit Formation

Sahara Desert.


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History of Research – French army officers posted in the area of the Tabelbala Oasis in the early twentieth century were the first to identify the Acheulian sites in the area. Lieutenant César collected a large sample of Acheulian tools during his stay in 1911–12 (Alimen 1978). His collection formed the basis for Breuil’s definition (1930, 1931) of the Tabelbala Tachenghit technique. From 1948, Champault (1996) conducted a survey and excavations in the area, primarily in Feidj, located some 20 km north of the Tabelbala Oasis. During 1966–67, Alimen (1978) conducted two seasons of excavation, aimed to refine the stratigraphy and establish better control over the geology and cultural sequences. Both Champault (1966) and Alimen (1978) studied the collections of stone tools housed by different French institutions, providing a detailed description of them.

Geology – The limestone of the Tachenghit Formation was embedded in a shallow paleo-lake, created in the basin during the Pleistocene (Alimen 1978). Fig. A9 presents a typical section of the site of Feidj Tachenghit (Alimen 1978). Layer 2b represents Tachenghit white limestone, reported to bear Acheulian artifacts in in-situ context, embedded between layers of sandstone.

Stratigraphy – All the sites or stations in the area are short-occupation sites. They are scattered unevenly in terms of area and find density on the surface of the Tachenghit limestone layers (Alimen 1978).

Date – Alimen (1978) assigned all of the sites to the Final Ougartian stage.


Alimen, M.-H.

1978    L’évolution de l’Acheuléen au Sahara Nord-Occidental (Saoura – Ougarta – Tabelbala). CNRS, Paris.

Balout, L.

1955    Préhistoire de l’Afrique du Nord. Arts et Métiers Graphiques, Paris.

1967    Procèdes d’analyse et questions de terminologie dans l’étude des ensembles industriels du Paléolithique Inférieur en Afrique du Nord. In Background to Evolution in Africa, edited by W. W. Bishop and J. D. Clark, pp. 701–735.

Biberson, P.

1961    Le Paléolithique Inférieur du Maroc Atlantique 17. Service des Antiquités du Maroc, Rabat