Early and Middle Holocene Human Occupation of the Egyptian Eastern Desert: Sodmein Cave

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From: African Archaeological Review(Vol. 32, Issue 3)
Publisher: Springer
Document Type: Report
Length: 433 words

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Byline: Pierre M. Vermeersch (1), Veerle Linseele (1,2), Elena Marinova (1,2), Wim Neer (1,2), Jan Moeyersons (3), Janet Rethemeyer (4) Keywords: Egypt; Neolithic; Holocene; Herding; 14C dating; Prehistory Abstract: In this paper, we discuss human occupation during the Early and Middle Holocene in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, based mainly on the data provided by excavated deposits from the Sodmein Cave, which produced an important Holocene stratigraphic sequence. This sequence is dated by a large number of conventional and AMS 14.sup.C dates. It appears that the area was empty of human occupation during the Late Glacial Maximum (LGM) and the earliest Holocene. With improved climatic conditions, humans arrived in the area, as hunter-gatherers using no ceramics, from around 7.1 to 6.4 Ka cal BC. Humans were absent from the cave during the Holocene 8.2 Ka event (ca. 6.3 Ka cal BC). From 6.2 to 5.0 Ka cal BC, herders visited the site on a regular basis importing caprines. The bone evidence for domesticated small stock is very limited at Sodmein but is nevertheless extremely important, as it contains the oldest known specimens for Africa to date. After 5.0 Ka cal BC, the area was almost entirely deserted. Abstract (French): La presente contribution discute de l'occupation humaine au cours de l'Holocene ancien et moyen dans le desert oriental d'Egypte. L'analyse des donnees fournies par les depots de la grotte Sodmein fournit une sequence stratigraphique holocene importante. Cette sequence est datee par un grand nombre de dates conventionnelles et AMS 14.sup.C. Il semble que la region n'ait pas ete occupee au cours de la fin du maximum glaciaire (LGM) et au debut de l'Holocene. L'arrivee des humains, chasseurs-cueilleurs sans ceramique, dans la region, se situe aux environs de 7.1 a 6.4 Ka calBC au moment de l'amelioration des conditions climatiques. Durant le 'Holocene 8.2 Ka event' ( I[acute accent] 6.3 Ka calBC) l'homme semble absent du site. Plus tard, de 6,2 a 5,0 Ka calBC, des eleveurs, qui ont introduit des caprins, ont visite le site regulierement. A Sodmein l'evidence osseuse de caprins domestiques, quoique limitee, est neanmoins extremement importante, car elle represente a ce jour les plus anciens specimens connus pour l'Afrique. Apres 5.0 Ka calBC la region a ete presque entierement desertee. Author Affiliation: (1) Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium (2) Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium (3) Royal Museum of Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium (4) University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany Article History: Registration Date: 15/07/2015 Online Date: 10/09/2015 Article note: Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi: 10.1007/s10437-015-9195-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A429097660