Early Human Occupation at al-Jamrab (White Nile Region, Central Sudan): A Contribution to the Understanding of the MSA of Eastern Africa

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Antichità, Sapienza Università di Roma, Piazzale A. Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy
  • 2 Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra “A. Desio”, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via L. Mangiagalli 34, 20133 Milano, Italy
  • 3 Institut für Geologie, Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck, Innrain 52, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 4 Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Antichità, Sapienza Università di Roma, Centro Studi Sudanesi e Sub-Sahariani, Piazzale A. Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy

Abstract

The middle reaches of the Nile River play a key role in the current models about the diffusion of modern Humans out of Africa, nevertheless the Early and the Middle Stone Age (Early Palaeolithic and Middle Palaeolithic) in central Sudan are poorly known. On-going investigation at al-Jamrab (White Nile region) highlights the archaeological potential of the central Sudan and illustrates the importance of an integrated approach combining archaeological excavation and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction for understanding cultural site formation and post-depositional dynamics. The stratigraphic sequence at al-Jamrab includes a thick cultural layer rich in Early and Middle Stone Age artefacts, preserved in a deeply weathered palaeosol developed on fluvial sediments. The cultural layer includes a two-fold human occupation covering the Middle Stone Age, with Acheulean and Sangoan bifacial artefacts, although an Early Stone Age/Middle Stone Age transitional phase cannot be excluded. The artefact-bearing unit is attributed to the Upper Pleistocene based on preliminary OSL dating, the local palaeoenvironmental context, and strong pedogenetic weathering. Considering the paucity of archaeological data for the Pleistocene of Sudan and the importance of this region in the study of human dispersal out of Africa, this preliminary work on a new site and its associated stratigraphic context provides insights into the early peopling of Sudan and adds one more tessera to the Eastern Africa picture.

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