Evidence of Middle Palaeolithic human settlements in sub-Saharan West Africa are relatively uncommon, badly or not dated, and are generally known from surface sites or secondary stratigraphic context. The discovery of a Pleistocene sedimentary sequence with numerous archaeological levels at Ounjougou (Dogon Country, Mali), is therefore of considerable significance as it allows the establishment of a chrono-cultural reference framework for the West African Palaeolithic, in turn establishing the chronological and archaeological site in an African and Asian context. Preliminary optical dating investigations have tentatively place the age of the Middle Palaeolithic elements of the site as occurring with the last glacial-interglacial cycle (m.i.s. 5-2).
This project will undertake a systematic dating evaluation of the site using new technologies in lunrinescence dating, in doing so correlating the record of human habitation to other sites across Africa and Asia to further inform the debate surrounding the emergence and distribution of anatomically modern humans during the period. We propose the analysis of both sedimentary horizons and burnt flints (wherever possible directly comparing these results to radiocarbon and other independent methods) as the best means by which a systematic chronostratigraphy may be developed.
The dating investigation (incorporating both single grain and red luminescence methodologies) is designed to both fully evaluate the potential of these exciting new approaches and also to gain the maximum yield of age-related information from the preserved archaeological and sedimentary (including fluvial, colluvial and aeolian) deposits.
This work will be undertaken within a context of a wider programme which will simultaneously undertake concurrent palaeoenvironmental, archaeological and dating analyses at other key sites across North Africa and Asia, allowing the fellow to work and interact with a wide community.
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