The origin of food production is a key theme in North African pre-/protohistory. In recent years the orthodox model, that domestic plants and animals were introduced by maritime Neolithic colonists from the Near East, has been challenged, and a component of autonomous development independent of the Near East acknowledged. However, there remains considerable uncertainty about the nature and extent of, and interplay between, internal and external dynamics in the beginnings of food production across North Africa.
Although it is commonly accepted that domestic plants and animals from the Near East (wheat, barley, cattle, sheep/goats) were introduced into North Africa in the Early and Middle Holocene (c.9000-4000 cal. BC), a period of profound climate change, when and how these migrations occurred remain extremely uncertain. The aim of the proposed project is to a make a significant contribution to resolving this uncertainty through innovative methodologies in artefact analysis.
The project will focus on three case study areas, to investigate and compare forager-farmer interactions and processes of Neolithization in contrasting ecosystems: Mediterranean (Gebel Akhdar), arid (Egyptian Western Desert) and lacustrine (Fayum). It will take advantage of current fieldwork programmes by European teams collecting high quality palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental data essential for understanding human group activities in this period of significant climate change. It will investigate the chronology and location of the first appearance of the Levantine domesticates in North Africa, their subsequent spread and the cultural interactions involved in these processes, through a multidisciplinary approach based on Accelerator Mass Spectrometry dating of domesticated botanical and zoological material, functional and geochemical analyses on stone tools, and Geographical Information System analysis. Intensive training will be provided in the last two of these methodologies.
Field of science
- /social sciences/sociology/social problems/migration
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/ecology/ecosystems
- /natural sciences/chemical sciences/analytical chemistry/mass spectrometry
Call for proposal
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