Middle Stone Age Bifacial Technology and Pressure Flaking at the MIS 3 Site of Toumboura III, Eastern Senegal

  • publication
  • 25-11-2021

Schmid, V.C., Douze, K., Tribolo, C. et al. Afr Archaeol Rev (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10437-021-09463-5

Over the past decade, the increasing wealth of new archaeological data on the Middle Stone Age (MSA) in Senegal and Mali has broadened our understanding of West Africa’s contributions to cultural developments. Within the West African sequence, the phase of Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3, ca. 59-24 ka) yielded so far the best known and extensive archaeological information. The site of Toumboura III encompasses an occupation dated by optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) to between 40 ± 3 ka and 30 ± 3 ka. It provides the largest, well-dated, and stratified lithic assemblage in West Africa for the MSA and sheds light on an unprecedented cultural expression for this period, adding to the notable diversity of the late MSA in this region. We conducted a technological analysis of the lithic components following the chaîne opératoire approach. The lithic assemblage features a prevalence of bifacial technology and the exploitation of flakes as blanks for tool production. The craftspeople manufactured distinct types of bifacial tools, including small bifacial points shaped by pressure technique. The new data from Toumboura III demonstrate behavioral patterns that are entirely new in the region. By revealing behavioral innovations and technological particularities, these results on the techno-cultural dynamics during the MIS 3 phase of the MSA enhance our understanding of the complex Pleistocene population history in this part of Africa.

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