Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine

Rabat, Morocco

Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine

Rabat, Morocco
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Richter D.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Richter D.,Lüneburg University | Richter D.,Freiberg Instruments GmbH | Grun R.,Australian National University | And 18 more authors.
Nature | Year: 2017

The timing and location of the emergence of our species and of associated behavioural changes are crucial for our understanding of human evolution. The earliest fossil attributed to a modern form of Homo sapiens comes from eastern Africa and is approximately 195 thousand years old, therefore the emergence of modern human biology is commonly placed at around 200 thousand years ago. The earliest Middle Stone Age assemblages come from eastern and southern Africa but date much earlier. Here we report the ages, determined by thermoluminescence dating, of fire-heated flint artefacts obtained from new excavations at the Middle Stone Age site of Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, which are directly associated with newly discovered remains of H. sapiens. A weighted average age places these Middle Stone Age artefacts and fossils at 315 ± 34 thousand years ago. Support is obtained through the recalculated uranium series with electron spin resonance date of 286 ± 32 thousand years ago for a tooth from the Irhoud 3 hominin mandible. These ages are also consistent with the faunal and microfaunal assemblages and almost double the previous age estimates for the lower part of the deposits. The north African site of Jebel Irhoud contains one of the earliest directly dated Middle Stone Age assemblages, and its associated human remains are the oldest reported for H. sapiens. The emergence of our species and of the Middle Stone Age appear to be close in time, and these data suggest a larger scale, potentially pan-African, origin for both. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.


Hublin J.-J.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Hublin J.-J.,Collège de France | Ben-Ncer A.,Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine | Bailey S.E.,New York University | And 8 more authors.
Nature | Year: 2017

Fossil evidence points to an African origin of Homo sapiens from a group called either H. heidelbergensis or H. rhodesiensis. However, the exact place and time of emergence of H. sapiens remain obscure because the fossil record is scarce and the chronological age of many key specimens remains uncertain. In particular, it is unclear whether the present day 'modern' morphology rapidly emerged approximately 200 thousand years ago (ka) among earlier representatives of H. sapiens1 or evolved gradually over the last 400 thousand years2. Here we report newly discovered human fossils from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, and interpret the affinities of the hominins from this site with other archaic and recent human groups. We identified a mosaic of features including facial, mandibular and dental morphology that aligns the Jebel Irhoud material with early or recent anatomically modern humans and more primitive neurocranial and endocranial morphology. In combination with an age of 315 ± 34 thousand years (as determined by thermoluminescence dating)3, this evidence makes Jebel Irhoud the oldest and richest African Middle Stone Age hominin site that documents early stages of the H. sapiens clade in which key features of modern morphology were established. Furthermore, it shows that the evolutionary processes behind the emergence of H. sapiens involved the whole African continent. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature.


Humphrey L.T.,Natural History Museum in London | De Groote I.,Natural History Museum in London | De Groote I.,Liverpool John Moores University | Morales J.,University of Cambridge | And 5 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2014

Dental caries is an infectious disease that causes tooth decay. The high prevalence of dental caries in recent humans is attributed to more frequent consumption of plant foods rich in fermentable carbohydrates in food-producing societies. The transition from hunting and gathering to food production is associated with a change in the composition of the oral microbiota and broadly coincides with the estimated timing of a demographic expansion in Streptococcus mutans, a causative agent of human dental caries. Here we present evidence linking a high prevalence of caries to reliance on highly cariogenic wild plant foods in Pleistocene hunter-gatherers from North Africa, predating other high caries populations and the first signs of food production by several thousand years. Archaeological deposits at Grotte des Pigeons in Morocco document extensive evidence for human occupation during the Middle Stone Age and Later Stone Age (Iberomaurusian), and incorporate numerous human burials representing the earliest known cemetery in the Maghreb. Macrobotanical remains from occupational deposits dated between 15,000 and 13,700 cal B.P. provide evidence for systematic harvesting and processing of edible wild plants, including acorns and pine nuts. Analysis of oral pathology reveals an exceptionally high prevalence of caries (51.2% of teeth in adult dentitions), comparable to modern industrialized populations with a diet high in refined sugars and processed cereals. We infer that increased reliance on wild plants rich in fermentable carbohydrates and changes in food processing caused an early shift toward a disease-associated oral microbiota in this population.


Ruas M.-P.,French Natural History Museum | Tengberg M.,French Natural History Museum | Ettahiri A.S.,Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine | Fili A.,Chouaïb Doukkali University | Van Staevel J.-P.,Paris-Sorbonne University
Vegetation History and Archaeobotany | Year: 2011

The analysis of botanical macro-remains (seeds, fruits and wood) from the fortress site of Îgîlîz, situated in the Anti-Atlas mountain range of southern Morocco, provides a first glimpse of the plant economy of a medieval rural community in this part of North Africa. Considered as the original stronghold of the religious community led by Ibn Tûmart, the founder of the Almohad dynasty, the site was occupied from the 10th to the 13th century a. d. The crop assemblage identified from ashy contexts in a central grouping of buildings (the qasba) comprises barley (Hordeum vulgare), sorghum (Sorghum sp., earliest occurrence known so far from Morocco), wheat (Triticum sp.) and a pulse (Lathyrus sativus/cicera). Several arboreal fruit species are also identified: fig (Ficus carica), almond (Prunus dulcis), date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), grapevine (Vitis vinifera) and argan (Argania spinosa). The latter, predominant in the archaeobotanical record in the form of both fruit and wood remains, is of particular interest as it is the first time that this species, endemic to south-western Morocco and of prime economic interest regionally, has been identified from an archaeological context. In the past, as today, the argan tree seems to have played a major role in village economies as a source of wood for fuel and construction, fodder for livestock and food in the form of an edible oil, extracted from the oleaginous seeds. This article focuses on present and past uses of Argania spinosa as well as on the ecology and morpho-anatomy of this emblematic species. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.


Barton R.N.E.,University of Oxford | Bouzouggar A.,Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine | Hogue J.T.,University of Oxford | Lee S.,University of Oxford | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2013

Recent genetic studies based on the distribution of mtDNA of haplogroup U6 have led to subtly different theories regarding the arrival of modern human populations in North Africa. One proposes that groups of the proto-U6 lineage spread from the Near East to North Africa around 40-45ka (thousands of years ago), followed by some degree of regional continuity. Another envisages a westward human migration from the Near East, followed by further demographic expansion at ~22ka centred on the Maghreb and associated with a microlithic bladelet culture known as the Iberomaurusian. In evaluating these theories, we report on the results of new work on the Middle (MSA) and Later Stone (LSA) Age deposits at Taforalt Cave in Morocco. We present 54 AMS radiocarbon dates on bone and charcoals from a sequence of late MSA and LSA occupation levels of the cave. Using Bayesian modelling we show that an MSA non-Levallois flake industry was present until ~24.5ka Cal BP (calibrated years before present), followed by a gap in occupation and the subsequent appearance of an LSA Iberomaurusian industry from at least 21,160 Cal BP. The new dating offers fresh light on theories of continuity versus replacement of populations as presented by the genetic evidence. We examine the implications of these data for interpreting the first appearance of the LSA in the Maghreb and providing comparisons with other dated early blade and bladelet industries in North Africa. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Richter D.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Moser J.,Kommission fur Archaologie Aussereuropaischer Kulturen | Nami M.,Direction du Patrimoine | Eiwanger J.,Kommission fur Archaologie Aussereuropaischer Kulturen | Mikdad A.,Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2010

In addition to South Africa, the Northwestern corner of the African continent is providing a wealth of data for the understanding of the behaviour of early modern humans. In NW Africa, this modern behaviour is associated with a technocomplex called 'Aterian'. However, its definition as well as chronological position is heavily debated. As a common notion, the 'Aterian' is placed as the (more or less) last technocomplex of the Middle Stone Age/Middle Palaeolithic. However, the stratigraphy of the Moroccan site of Ifri n'Ammar provides evidence that the 'Aterian' cannot serve as a chronostratigraphic entity because of its presence in a stratigraphical sequence before as well as after Middle Palaeolithic industries lacking tanged tools. These should supposedly all occur beneath any layer containing tanged lithic objects, which are, at present, the main criteria for assigning an assemblage to the 'Aterian'. According to the sequence of Ifri n'Ammar, the relative chronostratigraphical position of tanged tools is therefore shown not to be a single unit.Thermoluminescence (TL) dating of heated artefacts from the main layers of Ifri n'Ammar provides a first chronostratigraphic backbone for the site and for the Maghreb. Layer 'Upper OS', which contains tanged items as well as personal ornaments is dated to 83.3 ± 5.6 ka (n = 10), while the underlying 'Lower OS', which is lacking tanged pieces, is dated to 130.0 ± 7.8 ka (n = 9). The following layer (Upper OI), which again contains tanged items, and thus provides the earliest appearance of the technique of tanging is dated to 145 ± 9 ka. The base of the sequence is formed by a Middle Palaeolithic layer (Lower OI) again lacking tanged objects and dated to 171 ± 12 ka by TL on heated lithic artefacts. These data significantly push back in time the earliest occurrence of tanged tools and the sequence calls for a complete revision of the Maghreb chronostratigraphy. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Stoetzel E.,CNRS Systematics, Biodiversity and Evolution Institute | Bailon S.,French Natural History Museum | Nespoulet R.,French Natural History Museum | Hajraoui M.A.E.,Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine | Denys C.,CNRS Systematics, Biodiversity and Evolution Institute
Historical Biology | Year: 2010

Small vertebrates found in archaeological context can provide important information on the evolution of biodiversity and paleoenvironments of a precise geographical region and sometimes on a large interval of time. However, very few studies are specifically dedicated to small fossil vertebrates in north Africa, especially for the end of the Quaternary period. The Late Pleistocene to Middle Holocene succession of El Harhoura 2 cave, situated in the region of Témara (Morocco), has revealed an exceptional richness of small vertebrates' remains, as well as in bones abundance than in species diversity (rodents, shrews, hedgehogs, amphibians, chelonians and squamates). We present here an annotated preliminary taxonomic list of this material. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.


Stoetzel E.,CNRS Systematics, Biodiversity and Evolution Institute | Marion L.,CNRS Systematics, Biodiversity and Evolution Institute | Nespoulet R.,French Natural History Museum | El Hajraoui M.A.,Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine | Denys C.,CNRS Systematics, Biodiversity and Evolution Institute
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2011

The relationship between local and global climatic variations and the origin and dispersal of Homo sapiens in Africa is complex, and North Africa may have played a major role in these events. In Morocco, very few studies are specifically dedicated to small fossil vertebrates, and neither taphonomic nor palaeoecological studies have been undertaken on these taxa, particularly in archaeological contexts. The late Pleistocene to middle Holocene succession of El Harhoura 2 cave, situated in the region of Témara, yields an exceptionally rich small vertebrate assemblage. We present the results of a first systematic, taphonomic, and palaeoecological study of the small mammals from Levels 1 to 8 of El Harhoura 2. The absence of bone sorting and polishing, as well as the presence of significant traces of digestion indicate that the small mammal bones were accumulated in the cave by predators and that no water transport occurred. Other traces observed on the surface of bones consist mainly of root marks and black traces (micro-organisms or more probably manganese) which affected the majority of the material. The percentage of fragmentation is very high in all stratigraphic levels, and the post-depositional breakage (geologic and anthropogenic phenomena) obscure the original breakage patterns of bones by predators. According to the ecology of the different species present in the levels of El Harhoura 2, and by taking into account possible biases highlighted by the taphonomic analysis, we reconstruct the palaeoenvironmental evolution in the region. For quantitative reconstructions we used two indices: the Taxonomic Habitat Index (THI) and the Gerbillinae/Murinae ratio. Late Pleistocene accumulations were characterised by a succession of humid (Levels 3, 4a, 6, and 8) and arid (Levels 2?, 5, and 7) periods, with more or less open landscapes, ending in an ultimate humid and wooded period during the middle Holocene (Level 1). We discuss particular limits of our results and interpretations, due to an important lack of taxonomic, ecological, and taphonomic knowledge in North Africa. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Clark-Balzan L.A.,University of Oxford | Candy I.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Schwenninger J.-L.,University of Oxford | Bouzouggar A.,Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine | And 4 more authors.
Quaternary Geochronology | Year: 2012

Cave sequences provide some of the most important archives of Palaeolithic archaeology that are currently available. The potential value of such sequences is, however, frequently limited by the problems associated with constructing robust chronologies for archaeologically significant levels. In this study, we apply 230Th/U and OSL SAR techniques to the dating of deposits from the Calcareous Group at Grotte des Pigeons, Taforalt, eastern Morocco. The advantage of combining these techniques is: 1) they allow the cross-checking of chronologies derived from independent sets of measurements and assumptions, and 2) they date different facies of cave sediments (i.e. clastic cave sediments as opposed to cave precipitates such as speleothems) allowing the timing of deposition by different cave processes to be constrained more robustly. The age estimates derived by these techniques from different sampling locations are in good agreement with one another, suggesting the potential of these techniques when used in tandem for producing more robust chronologies of Palaeolithic sequences. The deposition of the Calcareous Group is placed within the middle to late part of MIS 5 (MIS 5c to 5a). Furthermore, the Bayesian analysis of the dates derived in this study along with those that have been previously published, allows the duration of deposition of this unit to be estimated at 25.4 ± 3.7 ka (mean ± 1σ). The paper concludes by discussing the significance of these ages for the archaeology of the Taforalt sequence. We suggest that the collection of samples for multiple independent dating methods in direct association combined with the use of careful, stratigraphic constraints in Bayesian models results in the most robust dates available for such cave sequences. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Humphrey L.,Natural History Museum in London | Bello S.M.,Natural History Museum in London | Turner E.,RGZM | Bouzouggar A.,Institute National Des Science Of Larcheologie Et Du Patrimoine | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2012

Grotte des Pigeons at Taforalt, north-east Morocco, is well known for a large assemblage of Iberomaurusian (Epipalaeolithic) skeletons, possibly representing the earliest and most extensively used prehistoric cemetery in North Africa. New archaeological excavations carried out in 2005 and 2006 revealed further human remains in a largely undisturbed burial area in an alcove at the back of the cave. This discovery provides the first opportunity to report on Iberomaurusian human mortuary activity at this site. Reported here are a closely spaced and inter-cutting series of four burials. These contained the remains of four adults, of which three were buried in a seated or slightly reclining position facing towards the cave entrance and one was buried in a highly flexed position on its left side. The distribution of articulated and disarticulated bones suggested intensive use of the area, with earlier burials disturbed or truncated by subsequent burials, and displaced skeletal elements deliberately or unwittingly incorporated into later depositions. Through this process, parts of a single skeleton were redistributed among several discrete graves and within the surrounding deposit. Some aspects of the Iberomaurusian funerary tradition that are evident from the human remains excavated in the 1950s are absent in the newly excavated adult burials, suggesting a possible elaboration of funerary activity over time. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

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