Friday, June 8, 2012

Kerma et les débuts du Néolithique Africain

Matthieu Honegger
Mission Archéologique Suisse au Soudan

translated from French
pages 246-247

"The difference between the tombs attributed to the Mesolithic and the cemeteries of the Neolithic are fundamental.  On one side are the small number of burials, without grave goods, all of equal status; on the other is a veritable necropolis with at least one hundred graves often with grave goods indicative of the emergence of social distinction.  In a millenium, Nubian society had completely transformed their social organization.  This transformation must have taken place on account of the introduction of domestic cattle, the oldest findings of which are in the Middle Nile at Nabta Playa in Egypt and Kerma (Fig. 1 [map]).

"Until the Winter of 2004-2005, the status of the Neolithic cemetery of El Barga was assumed, because of the presence of polished stone objects (axes, pendants, earrings, labrets), to be associated with the Mesolithic (Fig. 14 and 15).  The last discovery of the 2004-2005 campaign confirmed our hypothesis that El Barga is a Neolithic site:  a man's grave next to which was deposited the skull of a domestic cattle buried just above the burial of a child (Fig. 17).  Two carbon 14 dates have given results of approximately 5750 BC [7762 bp] that make this the oldest Neolithic site in the Nile Valley.  However, these dates don't correspond to the first phase of the Neolithic in the region.  In effect, the cemetery shows technical and social transformations that had already taken place and one can't doubt that the introduction of pastoralism had occured at an earlier time.

"The discovery of two sites located five kilometers from El Barga confirmed this hunch.  These two well-preserved habitats present a large quantity of objects on the surface, as well as the remnants of circular stone structures marking the location of huts.  A recovery of objects and animal remains from the surface and a survey has been conducted at the two sites to understand the stratigraphic sequence of the area.  The sites have a homogeneous occupation history across time, and contain the bones of domestic cattle.  Some of the remains were dated by radiocarbon dating to approximately 7000 BC [ 9000 bp]."

1 comment:

  1. The language in the text in the last paragraph that reads: "une occupation homogène sur le plan chronologique" has been translated somewhat literally as "a homogeneous occupation history across time," and while my own French is only middling, FWIW, I suspect from context that the sense meant in this technical context is really more along the lines of "an uninterrupted occupation history."


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