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In recent years, Garamantian archaeology has received renewed attention from historians and archaeologists, particularly in the south-western corner of Libya in the central Sahara. This paper focuses on the potential of intensive field surveys and digital technologies as applied to a particular segment of the Garamantian state: the ‘castles’ of Wadi Awiss and their associated contexts ― necropoleis and site remains. The combination of a field survey, selected settlement soundings and territorial funerary data provided additional information on the chronological and functional organization of the Garamantian system.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Rock art contexts are a fragile aspect of the world’s cultural heritage and have always attracted the attention of scientists, institutions, stakeholders, and visitors. UNESCO gives due recognition to this significance by including many art sites on its World Heritage List. The Tadrart Akakus in SW Libya was awarded this status in 1985. However, over the past decade, given a series of threats (tourism, infrastructure, oil exploitation), these Holocene art sites have become increasingly endangered. The central authorities and local stakeholders have failed to reach a unanimous consensus on the best practices to be adopted to tackle the situation; proposed solutions range from the total closure of the area to self-regulation. The research presented here aims to demonstrate that simple measures at individual sites (information panels, fences), integrated in a comprehensive inter- and multi-disciplinary study of rock art contexts (in particular, statistical and GIS analysis), may represent the best way to help politicians and stakeholders to dynamically manage a cultural heritage site.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

The surface pottery from a well-preserved Holocene archaeological site in south-western Libya is analysed. The collection suggests a long and protracted human occupation of the shelter, from Late Acacus (Mesolithic) hunter-gatherers to Late Pastoral (Neolithic) herders. Aim of the work is to decode the dynamic history of the site via the study of its surface elements, both artefacts and ecofacts, and the way they interacted over the millennia. To do this, traditional ceramic analysis is combined with recently developed methods of description imported from sedimentology, stressing the potentialities of surface archaeological material. In this framework, spatial analysis of scattered potsherds, in connection with their quantitative and qualitative features and chronological attribution, appears of main relevance in the analysis of site formation processes and postdepositional events that altered the archaeological deposit, transforming its present surface.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

Archaeological deposits in rock shelters have enormous informative potential, particularly in arid environments where organic materials are well preserved. In these areas, sub-fossilized coprolites and dung remains have been identified as valuable proxies for inferences about past environments, subsistence economies and cultural trajectories. Here we present a multidisciplinary analysis of bovid (ovicaprine) coprolites collected from the Early Holocene hunter-gatherer occupation at Takarkori rock shelter (SW Libya, central Sahara). Our results show that Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) were managed as early as ~9500 years cal BP, mostly with the rearing of juveniles. Palynological analysis of individual pellets suggests a seasonal confinement of the animals and the selection of fodder. GIS analysis of coprolite distribution also indicates sophisticated strategies of Barbary sheep “herding” and spatial differentiation of specialized areas within the rock shelter, including the construction and use of a stone-based enclosure for corralling animals. These highly structured and organized forms of control over wild animals are interpreted as a potential co-evolutionary trigger for the subsequent rapid adoption and integration of the incoming pastoral Neolithic economy.

In: Journal of African Archaeology