Holocene Deposits of Saharan Rock Shelters: The Case of Takarkori and Other Sites from the Tadrart Acacus Mountains (Southwest Libya)


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August 2013


The excavation at Takarkori rock shelter is part of a long-term study of Holocene cultural dynamics in southwest Libya begun in the early 1990s. With a rich Holocene occupation, the area is one of the key spots for reconstruction of human occupation of the last 10,000 years. In this region, similar to the case in the rest of the Sahara, most of the data come from surface investigations at open-air sites, while excavated caves and rock shelters provide just a few. Although less exposed than open-air sites, Holocene archaeological deposits in Saharan caves and rock shelters are characterized by a fairly dynamic nature. Loose sediments, coupled with variability of human occupations and magnitude of natural agents, determine multiple alterations to the archaeological deposits in sheltered sites. In this paper, we present the nature and meaning of the archaeological deposits at Takarkori rock shelter, where a relatively large area has been recently excavated, showing a stratigraphic sequence extending from c. 9,000 to 4,200 BP, unevenly represented by several occupation pulses. In order to sharpen understanding of the development of human occupation at this site, specific procedures for the study and recording of the archaeological deposit have been developed, along with a program of extensive radiocarbon dating. Data from the Takarkori sequence ultimately will be integrated with available published stratigraphies from the Acacus Mountains, with the aim of reviewing the results from past excavations.


Holoscene, Sahara, Rock Chelters, Archaeological Sequence, Late Acacus, Pastoral Neolithic

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African Archaeological Review, Vol. 30 (2013-08-10).