Two new Later Stone Age sites from the Final Pleistocene in the Falémé Valley, eastern Senegal.

  • publication
  • 28-03-2024

Ndiaye M, Lespez L, Tribolo C, Rasse M, Hadjas I, Davidoux S, Huysecom É, Douze K. PLoS One 2024 ;19(3):e0294346. PMC10977785. 10.1371/journal.pone.0294346. PONE-D-23-15115.

The understanding of cultural dynamics at work at the end of the Final Pleistocene in West Africa suffers from a significant lack of excavated and dated sites, particularly in the Sahelian and Sudanian ecozones. While the Later Stone Age shows varied behavioral developments in different parts of the continent, the chrono-cultural framework of this period remains largely unknown in West Africa. We report on archaeological, geomorphological, and chronological research on two Final Pleistocene Later Stone Age sites in the Falémé Valley, eastern Senegal. Optically stimulated luminescence ages place the site of Toumboura I-2017 between 17 ± 1 and 16 ± 1 ka and the Ravin de Sansandé site between 13 ± 1 ka and 12 ± 1.1 ka. The excavated lithics show typical Later Stone Age industries, characterized by chaînes opératoires of core reduction mainly producing flakes and bladelets as well as blades and laminar flakes. Segments dominate the toolkits but a few backed bladelets and end-scrapers on flake blanks were recognized. Local raw materials were used, with a preference for chert and quartz, as well as greywacke. These Later Stone Age lithic assemblages are the oldest known in Senegal so far and add to the small number of sites known in West Africa for this period, which are mainly located farther south, in sub-tropical ecozones. The Later Stone Age sites of the Falémé Valley are contemporaneous with typical Middle Stone Age technologies in Senegal dated to at least the Pleistocene/Holocene transition. Our results thus provide new archaeological evidence highlighting the complex cultural processes at work during the Final Pleistocene in West Africa.

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