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High-Precision Radiocarbon Dating Application to Multi-Proxy Organic Materials from Late Foraging to Early Pastoral Sites in Upper Nubia, Sudan

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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The study area presented in this paper comprises two geographical entities in northern Upper Nubia located between the Second and the Third Cataract of the Nile River: Sai Island and the Amara West district, on the present left bank of the river. Four sites, three at Sai Island and one in the Amara West district, were excavated. They represent three distinct archaeological complexes, named Arkinian, Khartoum Variant, and Abkan, which encompass a long time period from ca. 11,000 to 6000 cal years BP (9000–4000 BC) and range from late foraging to early pastoralism. Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating was applied to multiproxy materials in order to provide a frame of reference for this important chronological and economic period in this area. Different types of materials were selected, namely wood charcoal, charcoal tempers in pottery, ostrich eggshell, and aquatic gastropod shells. Twenty-four new AMS radiocarbon dates are presented to (a) cross-check the accuracy and reliability of the chronology of late foraging and early pastoral sites in our study area; (b) integrate, update, and revise the previously available radiometric dates; and (c) reconstruct a comprehensive framework of the chronology of late foraging and early pastoralism in Upper Nubia.

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