Scholarly article on topic 'The chronostratigraphy of the Haua Fteah cave (Cyrenaica, northeast Libya)'

The chronostratigraphy of the Haua Fteah cave (Cyrenaica, northeast Libya) Academic research paper on "History and archaeology"

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Journal of Human Evolution
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{"North Africa" / "Hominin dispersals" / Neolithisation / Dating}

Abstract of research paper on History and archaeology, author of scientific article — Katerina Douka, Zenobia Jacobs, Christine Lane, Rainer Grün, Lucy Farr, et al.

Abstract The 1950s excavations by Charles McBurney in the Haua Fteah, a large karstic cave on the coast of northeast Libya, revealed a deep sequence of human occupation. Most subsequent research on North African prehistory refers to his discoveries and interpretations, but the chronology of its archaeological and geological sequences has been based on very early age determinations. This paper reports on the initial results of a comprehensive multi-method dating program undertaken as part of new work at the site, involving radiocarbon dating of charcoal, land snails and marine shell, cryptotephra investigations, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of sediments, and electron spin resonance (ESR) dating of tooth enamel. The dating samples were collected from the newly exposed and cleaned faces of the upper 7.5 m of the ∼14.0 m-deep McBurney trench, which contain six of the seven major cultural phases that he identified. Despite problems of sediment transport and reworking, using a Bayesian statistical model the new dating program establishes a robust framework for the five major lithostratigraphic units identified in the stratigraphic succession, and for the major cultural units. The age of two anatomically modern human mandibles found by McBurney in Layer XXXIII near the base of his Levalloiso-Mousterian phase can now be estimated to between 73 and 65 ka (thousands of years ago) at the 95.4% confidence level, within Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 4. McBurney's Layer XXV, associated with Upper Palaeolithic Dabban blade industries, has a clear stratigraphic relationship with Campanian Ignimbrite tephra. Microlithic Oranian technologies developed following the climax of the Last Glacial Maximum and the more microlithic Capsian in the Younger Dryas. Neolithic pottery and perhaps domestic livestock were used in the cave from the mid Holocene but there is no certain evidence for plant cultivation until the Graeco-Roman period.

Academic research paper on topic "The chronostratigraphy of the Haua Fteah cave (Cyrenaica, northeast Libya)"

Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

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The chronostratigraphy of the Haua Fteah cave (Cyrenaica, northeast Libya)

Katerina Doukaa, Zenobia Jacobs b, Christine Lanea, Rainer Grunc, Lucy Farrd, Chris Hunte, Robyn H. Inglisf, Tim Reynolds g, Paul Alberth, Maxime Aubertb, Victoria Cullena, Evan Hille, Leslie Kinsleyc, Richard G. Roberts b, Emma L. Tomlinson1,h, Sabine Wulfj, Graeme Barker d' *

a Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, Dyson Perrins Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK b Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia c Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra 0200, Australia d McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3ER, UK e School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, Ireland f Department of Archaeology, University of York, King's Manor, York YO1 7EP, UK

g Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birkbeck College, University of London, 26 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ UK h Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham TW20 0EX, UK i Department of Geology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland

j GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 5.2 — Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution, Telegrafenberg, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany



Article history: Received 7 December 2012 Accepted 25 October 2013 Available online xxx

Keywords: North Africa Hominin dispersals Neolithisation Dating

The 1950s excavations by Charles McBurney in the Haua Fteah, a large karstic cave on the coast of northeast Libya, revealed a deep sequence of human occupation. Most subsequent research on North African prehistory refers to his discoveries and interpretations, but the chronology of its archaeological and geological sequences has been based on very early age determinations. This paper reports on the initial results of a comprehensive multi-method dating program undertaken as part of new work at the site, involving radiocarbon dating of charcoal, land snails and marine shell, cryptotephra investigations, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of sediments, and electron spin resonance (ESR) dating of tooth enamel. The dating samples were collected from the newly exposed and cleaned faces of the upper 7.5 m of the ~ 14.0 m-deep McBurney trench, which contain six of the seven major cultural phases that he identified. Despite problems of sediment transport and reworking, using a Bayesian statistical model the new dating program establishes a robust framework for the five major lithostratigraphic units identified in the stratigraphic succession, and for the major cultural units. The age of two anatomically modern human mandibles found by McBurney in Layer XXXIII near the base of his Levalloiso-Mousterian phase can now be estimated to between 73 and 65 ka (thousands of years ago) at the 95.4% confidence level, within Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 4. McBurney's Layer XXV, associated with Upper Palaeolithic Dabban blade industries, has a clear stratigraphic relationship with Campanian Ignimbrite tephra. Microlithic Oranian technologies developed following the climax of the Last Glacial Maximum and the more microlithic Capsian in the Younger Dryas. Neolithic pottery and perhaps domestic livestock were used in the cave from the mid Holocene but there is no certain evidence for plant cultivation until the Graeco-Roman period.

© 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

* Corresponding author.

E-mail addresses: (K. Douka), au (Z. Jacobs), (C. Lane), (R. Grün), (L. Farr), (C. Hunt), robyn.inglis@ (R.H. Inglis), (T. Reynolds), pgalbert17@ (P. Albert), (M. Aubert), victoria.cullen@ (V. Cullen), (E. Hill), (L. Kinsley), (R.G. Roberts), (E.L. Tomlinson), (S. Wulf), (G. Barker).

0047-2484/$ - see front matter © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


The research agenda on North African prehistory is dominated by three major debates: (1) the timing and dispersal routes of modern humans into the region, and whether particular types of lithic assemblage are reliable indicators of their presence (Cremaschi et al., 1998; Mercier et al., 2007; Smith et al., 2007; Garcea, 2010a,

K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

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Figure 1. North Africa, showing the location of the Haua Fteah cave together with other sites and places mentioned in the text. Solid circle: archaeological site; open circle: tephra location or palaeoenvironmental site (Drawing: D. Kemp).

2011; Pereira et al., 2010; Wengler, 2010; Hublin and McPherron, 2011; Dibble et al., 2012); (2) how successfully, once established, modern human populations were able to adapt to the major climatic and environmental changes of the Late Pleistocene (Barton et al., 2005, 2007; Bouzouggar et al., 2008; Garcea, 2010b); and (3) the timing and routes of dispersal of plant and animal domesticates in the Early Holocene and the contexts of their use (i.e., by the existing populations of hunter—gatherers and/or by immigrant agricultural populations) (Barker, 2006; Linstadter, 2008; Dunne et al., 2012). The deep (~ 14 m) sequence excavated by Charles McBurney in the 1950s in the Haua Fteah cave in Cyrenaica, northeast Libya (22°3'5"E/32°53'70"N; Fig. 1) has long been central to all three debates because it spanned the Middle and Late Stone Ages (or Middle and Upper Palaeolithic in European terminology), and the Meso-lithic and Neolithic periods. In fact, the sequence remains unique for the whole of North Africa east of the Maghreb (McBurney, 1967). However, though in many respects the excavations and subsequent analyses of material were pioneering for their time, techniques in cave excavation, deep-time radiometric dating and archaeological science more generally have all been transformed in the ensuing sixty years; the context for the renewal of fieldwork at the site in 2007 (Barker et al., 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012). Here we report the initial results of a comprehensive dating program of the geological and cultural sequences that has been one of the primary objectives of the new project.

History of research

The Haua Fteah is situated about a kilometre from the present-day coast at the foot of the northern escarpment of the Gebel Akhdar ('Green Mountain'), an isolated massif with desert to its west, south and east (Fig. 1). The north-facing entrance of the cave is ~50 m wide and ~20 m high; the interior roofed area measures ~80 m across (Fig. 2). By the end of the final (1955) season, McBurney's trench consisted of three stepped units (Fig. 3): an Upper Trench (our terminology, not his) measuring ~10.0 x 10.0 x 2.0 m deep; a Middle Trench measuring ~7.0 x 6.0 x 5.5 m deep; and a Deep Sounding that was published by McBurney as measuring ~2.5 x 1.5 x 6.5 m deep though in fact (as established in 2012) measured 3.8 x 1.6 x 6.5 m deep, giving a total depth for the excavation of 14.0 m. Sediments were removed in horizontal spits, and stratigraphic layers were then defined from

Figure 2. The Haua Fteah cave: (a) looking southwest up to the cave from the coastal plain and (b) looking south across the doline floor into the cave; the standing figures indicate the scale of the cave mouth, which is w50 m wide and w20 m high (Photographs: G. Barker).

^^ decayed rock ¡jigjij^ Rock fall [ | Shelters IIIIUI! Small rock form !H3 Rock out-crop ¡ij.i&j Scattered stones j j^B | Recent burials Iff] Trees

Figure 3. The McBurney (1967) plan, showing the Upper and Middle Trenches (our terms, not McBurney's) and the Deep Sounding. The original plan, including the relative contour heights of the cave surface before excavation, was in feet as shown here, but a metre scale has been added (Drawing: D. Kemp).

the trench walls as the excavations proceeded downwards (Fig. 4). These layers were divided into seven cultural phases, principally on the basis of changes in the stone tool assemblages. Twenty radiocarbon (14C) determinations on wood charcoal and charred bone (treated as charcoal) enabled McBurney to construct a chronology for the upper 6—7 m of the deposit (Callow et al., 1963; Vogel and Waterbolk, 1963, 1967; Supplementary Online Material [SOM] Table S1). Finite 14C ages were obtained for all 20 samples, but the oldest of these were at the then limits of the method, ca. 40 ka BP (thousands of years ago Before Present). Using estimates of sedimentation rates and comparisons with the emerging marine isotopic record, he calculated that the entire deposit probably dated to at least double the age range obtained by 14C for the top 6— 7 m, i.e., ca. 80 ka, and that initial occupation probably began during or soon after the Last Interglacial, the beginning of which (MIS 5e) is now dated to 126.0 ± 1.7 ka (Waelbroeck et al., 2008). From comparisons between the published sediment record from the cave and the marine isotope record, Moyer (2003) suggested that the cave's occupation might even go back to 195 ka, the MIS 7 interglacial.

The first phase (Phase A), from the bottom of the Deep Sounding to Layer XXXV at the base of the Middle Trench, contained a flake and blade/flake industry with burins and points. On the evidence of some biface 'trimmers' (in fact from core maintenance) and broken fragments of bifaces, McBurney considered the assemblage to be an "evolved Acheulian-Middle Palaeolithic type" (1967: 78), like the Amudian of Southwest Asia and, with the European Middle and

Upper Palaeolithic sequences in mind, proposed the term 'Pre-Aurignacian' given that the Aurignacian was the earliest blade industry of the European Upper Palaeolithic. An age range was estimated of ca. 80—65 ka BP. This was succeeded (Phase B: Layers XXXIV—XXV) by 'Levalloiso-Mousterian' industries, so termed from their broad comparability with these industries in the Levant and Europe, with an age range estimated as ca. 65—40 ka BP. Two human mandibles were found in this part of the sequence, from Layer XXXIII, originally regarded as 'Neanderthaloid' but since confirmed as fully modern human (Hublin, 2000). Layer XXV also contained elements of an industry that continued to Layer XVI (Phase C), characterized by the preferential selection of blanks for the production of blades and with an artefact range that McBurney likened to the European Upper Palaeolithic Gravettian. He named it 'Dab-ban' after the Cyrenaican cave of Hagfet ed-Dabba where he had found similar material (McBurney, 1960). On the basis of five 14C dates, the age of the Dabban was proposed as ca. 40—15 ka BP (McBurney, 1967). This was succeeded by a microlithic late or final Upper Palaeolithic industry (Phase D, Layers XV—XI) dated to ca. 14—10 ka BP and termed the 'Eastern Oranian' or 'Iberomaurusian' (hereafter 'Oranian') from its similarities with assemblages in the Maghreb. At the junction of the Middle and Upper Trenches (Phase E, Layers X, IX) was a microlithic Mesolithic-type industry (in European terms) with parallels to Capsian assemblages in the Maghreb and, hence, classified as the 'Libyco-Capsian' (hereafter 'Capsian'). Only two 14C dates were obtained from Phase E, both around 7.0 ka BP, but the age of the phase was estimated to be ca. 10.0—7.0 ka BP based on a date of ca. 10.5 ka BP from near the top of the underlying Eastern Oranian layers. Above this was the final prehistoric occupation (Phase F, Layers VIII—IV), with Neolithic pottery and domestic sheep and goats, which was termed 'Neolithic of Libyco-Capsian tradition' (hereafter 'Neolithic') because of similarities in stone tools (the frequency of backed pieces, for example) with the preceding Libyco-Capsian. Four 14C measurements dated this to ca. 7.0—4.7 ka BP. The prehistoric sequence was capped (Phase G) by a substantial boulder-supported structure dating to the Graeco-Roman period (Layers III, II), covered by burnt animal dung and other evidence of animal stalling that dated to recent centuries (Layer I). The cave is still used for stalling sheep and goats, and similar deposits continue to accumulate.

In the course of five seasons of fieldwork, the new project (the Cyrenaican Prehistory Project, or CPP) has removed the backfill deposited in the McBurney trench at the end of the 1955 season, cleaned and recorded the original sections using the single-context stratigraphic recording system, cut 30 x 30 cm column samples from the ground surface to the base of the Deep Sounding for sedimentological and palynological analysis, and is excavating two new trenches down the side of the Middle Trench (Trench M) and Deep Sounding (Trench D) to provide new data about the sedimentary and cultural sequences, and the climatic and environmental contexts in which they developed (Fig. 5). All excavated sediment is being washed and screened down to 2 mm to collect suites of artifactual and bioarchaeological data that will enable the project to test the robustness of McBurney's arguments about the cultural phases he defined and the timing and character of the transitions between them. The faces of the McBurney trench are well preserved, with many of the original aluminium labels still in place, enabling the new stratigraphies to be tied to and compared with McBurney's published stratigraphies. The sedimentary and cultural sequences discussed in this paper come from the Upper and Middle Trenches and very top of the Deep Sounding. The main fill of the latter was only cleared in 2012 on the resumption of fieldwork after the 2011 civil conflict and the recording and dating of its sediments are in progress.

4 K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

Ql U-=- il

o _i m . yeliow (orange when shaded as well)

Figure 4. The McBurney trench in 1955: (a) "general view on completion of the operation" (McBurney caption) looking west to the east-facing sections of the Upper and Middle Trenches (McBurney, 1967: plate XXXX, photograph: R. Inskeep). The Upper Trench section measures ~ 10 m in length, the Middle Trench section measures ~ 6 m. The large boulder visible near the top of the north-facing section of the Middle Trench, immediately below the metal base frame of the crane, is also visible in the re-excavated face shown as Fig. 5b, and in the CPP drawing of the same section shown as Fig. 6. (b) The stratigraphy of the east-facing sections of the Upper and Middle Trenches as recorded by R. Inskeep in 1955 (McBurney, 1967: Fig. 1.4), together with McBurney's stratigraphic key. The Deep Sounding is not shown. The large boulders in the upper section relate to a Graeco-Roman structure. The Arabic numbers refer to the spits in which the trenches were excavated, the Roman numerals to the stratigraphic layers identified during and after excavation. The use of the spit system has resulted in uncertainties regarding the stratigraphic distributions of archaeological material: Layer XXV, for example, was identified by McBurney as transitional between the Levalloiso-Mousterian and Dabban phases of occupation, and contained material of both types of assemblage. As the figure shows, it was excavated in two spits (23 and 23), the upper spit spanning two distinct stratigraphic units.

Sedimentary processes, facies and environmental interpretations

Five main sedimentary facies have been recognised in the sediments exposed in the Upper and Middle Trenches on the basis of field observations, bulk sedimentological analyses (particle size, calcium carbonate, loss-on-ignition, magnetic susceptibility) and micromorphology (Inglis, 2012; Fig. 6 and SOM Figs. S1—3). Example photomicrographs of the main sediment types as observed micro-morphologically are shown in Fig. 7. The bulk sediment analyses are being published separately. They consist of combinations of five main types of sediment: silts and silty clays, eboulis, diamicts, calcite layers, and anthropogenic deposits, reflecting a variation over the long and short term of sedimentary processes and

depositional material. The fine sediment material is generally reddish in colour, consistent in character with the terra rossa soil material on the surrounding hillsides, suggesting that this is a key source of sediment throughout the sequence, variously from aeolian transportation or colluvial movements (Hunt et al., 2010), as is common in many Mediterranean caves (e.g., Karkanas, 2001; Woodward and Goldberg, 2001). The layers vary in colour from deep red to lighter orange/buff, with the darkest red layers compact and clay-rich. This variation in colour and texture probably reflects differences in source material. The restriction and clarity of most layer boundaries suggest that the sediments have not undergone significant post-depositional alteration such as leaching or major bioturbation following their burial, which could alter their oxidation state and therefore colour (Taylor, 1982; Bridges, 1997).

Figure 5. The new (CPP) excavations in the Haua Fteah: (a) the eastern part of the north-facing section of the Middle Trench, looking south; the visible holes are the locations of OSL tubes; scale in 0.5 m divisions: (b) looking southwest across the Middle Trench to the Trench M excavation in 2012; the second plywood sheet to the left of the standing figure covers the part of the Middle Trench wall shown in the left image; the north-facing and east-facing walls of the Upper Trench are visible in front and to the right (compare the latter with the same face in 1955: Fig. 4a). The large boulder near the top of the north-facing section of the Middle Trench, between the two plywood sheets to the left of the standing figure, is visible in the 1955 photograph shown as Fig. 4a (Photographs: G. Barker).

Similarly, the more clayey layers likely reflect clayey sediment source material, rather than the in situ translocation and concentration of clay down profile in horizons (as evidenced by the general lack of clay void coatings that could otherwise attest to the illuvia-tion of clays down profile after the deposition of the unit [Goldberg, 1992 ]). Where present, these coatings were restricted to the 1 —2 cm under sediment layers interpreted as potential mass flows of muddy material, indicating that their formation was related to the short duration in which the overlying unit was deposited (Inglis, 2012).

Lying at the base of the Middle Trench, and representing the deepest part of the stratigraphy discussed in this paper, Facies 5 (at ~7.5—6.5 m depth below the present ground surface, but basal depth currently unknown) consists of red-orange silt layers interpreted as redeposited soil material reworked primarily from the immediate area of the cave but also potentially from further afield, as well as the recycling of sediment already within the dry shelter through aeolian processes. Such deposition was interrupted with rare inwash events that transported more clay-rich soil material from the surrounding hillsides into the shelter. These layers are interspersed with a number of burning features, 0.5—1.0 m wide, one of which has been interpreted as a hearth with multiple ash dumping episodes through micromorphological analysis (Fig. 7a).

Facies 4 (at ~ 6.0—6.5 m depth) consists of silty greyish sediments and eboulis. The increased physical weathering of the bedrock which produced this eboulis suggests a period of significant cooling, with rare, thin washes of clay-rich soil material re-deposited from the surrounding hillside and identified through micromorphological observations (Fig. 7b). This facies is capped by a burning event (CPP Contexts 513 and 535), interpreted by McBurney as an 'immense hearth' (McBurney, 1967) that is heavily-weathered, suggesting its relatively prolonged exposure as a surface (Inglis, 2012).

Facies 3 (at ~4.0—6.0 m depth) consists of dense reddish clay-rich fabrics alternating with lighter-coloured silty clay fabrics, respectively reflecting colluvial inwash and aeolian deposition. Micromorphological observation identified colluvial reworking of potentially aeolian-derived deposits, probably from within the shelter, towards the base of the facies. Towards the top of the facies, clay-rich layers (Fig. 7c) interpreted as inwash increased in frequency, particularly prominent at the layers corresponding to McBurney's Layer XXV. This increase was accompanied by the sporadic occurrence of increasingly thick eboulis lenses produced by greater physical weathering, suggestive of cooler periods. There are also distinct layers of calcite concretion (Fig. 7d) suggestive of periods of increased water dripping or flowing onto the sediments (Macphail and Goldberg, 1999). This could possibly reflect periods of relatively increased precipitation in the local environment (Pickering et al., 2007), although the potential mobility of carbonate through the profile also makes it possible that these horizons may have formed below the cave surface at a later point. The overall interpretation of the facies was one of variable depositional environments that became more markedly different to the top of the facies, potentially in response to punctuated periods of increasing landscape destabilisation and increasing cold.

Facies 2 (at ~ 2.0—4.0 m depth) consists of silty greyish sediments and eboulis similar to but thicker than those of Facies 4, and containing a series of thick, red clay lenses. This facies contains a visible lens of volcanic tephra (Context 426; see below, Tephrochronology). Many of these sediments appear to have accumulated in a period of increased physical weathering, potentially as a response to a prolonged cold period that was sustained for a significantly longer period than those represented by the thin eboulis layers in the top of Facies 3. Whilst full micromorphological analysis was not carried out within this facies because of the technical difficulty of sampling such coarse-grained deposits, the

K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

Historic a-m) Neolithic (vi-vm)

Mid Holocene to present

(13.6-11.9 ta to Mid Holocene)

Levalloiso-Mousterian (XXV-XXXIV)

(73.3-43.5 ka)

♦ Charcoal 14C sample (in situ) O Charcoal 14C sample (in contextual location) A ESR sample (in situ) A ESR sample (in contextual location) ^ Shell 14C sample (in appro, contextual location)

(48.7^.7 te) (V) OSL sample (In situ)

© Tephra (in stratigraphical location)

e McBumey nail

<=» Rocks

* Charcoal 9 Molluscs

(75.6-65.3 ka) N . ,

modelled date range for É

exposed units only

Upper Trench

Figure 6. The upper 7.5 m of the McBurney trench (north-facing section), showing the stratigraphic contexts or discrete units defined by the CPP (circled numbers), the McBumey layers and cultural phases, the five sedimentary facies defined by the CPP (the base of Facies 5 is currently unknown), the location of the main series of dated samples used in the Bayesian modelling, and the modelled dates for the cultural sequence (left) and facies (right). See also SOM Figures S1—3 for the other faces of the trench and the other sample locations. Trench M is the new trench being excavated down the side of the Middle Trench, the stratigraphy of which up to the end of excavation in 2010 is shown on the right of the main section drawing (Drawings: L. Farr).

sustained high magnetic susceptibility values of the fine material may reflect episodes of landscape degradation that caused the sporadic transport of well-developed soil material from the surrounding hillsides into the shelter during inwash events. The latter can be traced in the sections, and were confirmed through limited micromorphological analysis, although these values may also have been raised by extended periods of surface exposure and weathering, as well as an increased anthropogenic influence in these levels. The part of Facies 2 that lies within the new (Trench M) excavations also includes a large channel, presumably cut by a particularly violent inwash event, or series of such events, mixed with rockfall.

Facies 1b (at ~ 1.0—2.0 m depth) consists of greyish-red silty diamict layers, interpreted as inwash events carrying soil material into the cave from the surrounding hillsides, interbedded with eboulis derived from roof spalling and debris avalanches and mixed with anthropogenic material (Hunt et al., 2010). Facies 1a (0.0— 1.0 m depth) consists of red diamicts interpreted as mudflows and large inwash events interbedded with abundant anthropogenic material including midden and stabling (penning and dung-burning) deposits below and especially above the Graeco-Roman structure. The inwash events also change in character from the small-scale flows of sediment from potentially aeolian and less pedogenically-altered sources in Facies 1b to large-scale mudflows of external soil material interpreted as the relocation of eroding ploughsoils, a change that began shortly before the construction of the Graeco-Roman structure.

Evidence of micro-scale bioturbation by soil microfauna, in the form of granular micro-fabrics visible in thin section, is abundant, but the macro-scale clarity of the layer boundaries suggests that such bioturbation may have been restricted to the top few exposed centimetres of layers, largely ceasing after burial. Burrows visible in the profiles indicate that bioturbation by larger fauna such as mole rats is likely to have had a more disruptive impact, potentially mixing younger and older sediments and fine materials, such as charcoal and glass shards, and incorporating 1950s backfill into adjacent ancient deposits. The occurrence of large amounts of rockfall, especially in Facies 4 and 2, may have allowed post-depositional downward movement of sediments and fine materials in cracks between the rocks as a result of human and animal trampling. Colluvial inwash and mass mudflow events, such as the one observed in Trench M, can truncate deposits, and mix sediments and fine materials of different ages, from inside and outside the cave, together during transportation. The potential impacts of these bioturbation processes on the dating program are discussed below.

The multi-method dating study

A multi-method dating approach was adopted involving accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon (14C) dating, crypto-tephra investigations, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and electron spin resonance (ESR) techniques; an extensive series of samples has been analysed (Fig. 6 and SOM Figs. S1—3). The target

500pm 2mm

Figure 7. Photomicrographs showing the main sediment types within the Haua Fteah as observed through micromorphology: (a) Sample HF09-2155, Microfabrics 3 and 4, XPL: detail of burning event in Facies 5 showing interpreted ash dump (Ash) over crust of clay-rich (Cr) material potentially laid down by an inwash of clay-rich material during a period of hearth disuse; (b) Sample HF08/09-2033, Microfabric 3, PPL (plane polarized light): fine homogeneous silt (Ae) with sand-sized limestone eboulis interpreted as the result of continued aeolian reworking of material within the cave and in the immediate cave surroundings; note thin clay crust (Cr) interpreted as a small-scale wash event — larger lenses in Facies 4 visible in section are interpreted as larger scale wash events, perhaps from outside the cave; (c) Sample HF08-762, Microfabric 1, XPL: clay-rich fabric with stipple-speckled to mosaic b-fabric (the appearance of the fine material under cross polarised light) interpreted as reworked soil material deposited in a mass colluvial movement; clay coating to vegetal void (Co); (d) Sample HF09-2621, Microfabric 3, XP: calcite-cemented unit interpreted as resulting from water dripping or flowing onto sediments; precipitation of crystals in voids has produced platy microstructure similar to that observed in fabrics that have undergone freeze-thaw processes (Analysis by R. Inglis; descriptive terminology following Stoops, 2003).

dating event of the different methods employed is different, and it is important to keep this in mind when comparisons among methods are made and their accuracy interpreted (SOM 3: Dating program). Summaries of the methods and results of each dating technique are provided in the following sections, with further detail provided as SOM.

Radiocarbon (14C) dating

The original 14C dates obtained by McBurney were made on wood charcoal and charred bone (SOM Table S1) (Callow et al., 1963; Vogel and Waterbolk, 1963,1967). We report here the results of 96 new AMS 14C measurements obtained since 2007 (Table 1): 64 on charred — partly combusted — plant material of wood charcoal, charred seeds, or pine cone scales, all referred to, hereafter, as charcoal; 28 on terrestrial snails and four on marine shell. Thirty-six 14C measurements were produced at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU), 52 in Belfast and eight by Beta Analytic.

The charred plant material typically comprises ~ 60—90% carbon and at least some components of it appear 'inert' (i.e., resistant to inorganic chemical or biologically mediated oxidation, especially in arid depositional environments). The samples were collected in situ from the cleaned faces of the Upper and Middle Trenches as well as from the newly-opened Trench M. Prior to submission for dating, taxonomic identification of the charred material was undertaken by Caroline Cartwright (British Museum) based on microscopic characteristics (e.g., internal and external physical structure and

diagnostic anatomical features revealed through standard techniques of light microscopy) (see also Barker et al., 2008). The ORAU and Beta Analytic charcoal samples were dated using the standard Acid—Base—Acid (ABA) protocol (Brock et al., 2010), as were the five wood charcoal samples dated at Belfast (UBA-16129, UBA-16131 — 34). The remaining samples dated in Belfast (all cones of Pinus sp.) were cleaned using an acid wash only. Some of the material submitted to ORAU was badly preserved and a high rate of failure was observed: ~50% of samples initially submitted for dating did not survive pretreatment and had very low C yield. The carbon content of the samples for which dates were obtained also varied, from 50 to 72% in 25 of the samples to 30—43% in three and just 13—18% in the remaining three samples. The majority of results for the charcoal samples span from the historic period to 49 ka (14C) BP, but five samples yielded very young results, between AD 1650 and AD 1950 when calibrated. These clearly represent intrusions in the strati-graphic column from the modern levels of the site, possibly incorporated during the filling of McBurney's trenches.

Three marine shells (Columbella rustica) from the 1952 excavations, held in the McBurney Archive (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge), were dated by the ORAU, producing four results (one sample was dated twice as an internal laboratory check). The shells were intentionally perforated with a punch on the last whorl (E1—2 position of Taborin's system: Taborin, 1993) to create beads. One is from McBurney's Layer XIV— XV, one is from Layer XX, and one is of uncertain provenance, labelled simply '8'—8'6' depth (Red II)' but most likely associated

Table 1

Radiocarbon determinations for the Haua Fteah obtained by the Cyrenaican Prehistory Project, with approximate correlations with McBurney layers.

Laboratory code Age ± Calibrated BP (95.4%) From To S13C %C Material Species CPP context Sample ID Trench McBurney layer Comment

0xA-18710 1688 25 1700 1530 -22.2 54.0 Charcoal Juniperus sp. 126 HF 190 E-facing UT III Mix of charcoal with sediment.

A few pieces were used.

OxA-18673 6917 31 7830 7670 -26 65.3 Charcoal Rhus cf. tripartita 131 HF 209 E-facing UT VI Mix of charcoal with sediment. Twelve

charcoal fragments were selected. Humics.

OxA-18674 6505 33 7490 7320 -25.8 37.7 Charcoal Ephedra sp. 132 HF 238 E-facing UT VIII Mix of orange—brown sediment and

very small pieces of charcoal. Humics.

OxA-18675 5759 28 6650 6480 -25.9 71.6 Charcoal Zygophyllum sp. 129 HF 243 E-facing UT VI, V or III About 20 small pieces of charcoal covered in

orange brown sediment were used. Humics.

OxA-18676 5462 30 6310 6200 -25.7 55.3 Charcoal Zygophyllum sp. 129 HF 243 E-facing UT VI, V or III About 20 small pieces of charcoal covered in

orange brown sediment were used. Humics.

OxA-18794 5521 32 6400 6280 -24.9 28.8 Charcoal Zygophyllum sp. 129 HF 243 E-facing UT VI, V or III Remaining material from above was used.

Very small pieces of charcoal.

OxA-18677 6115 31 7160 6890 -24.9 15.6 Charcoal Suaeda sp. 131 HF 244 E-facing UT VI Mix of charcoal with sediment. Seven

charcoal pieces were selected. Low C yield.

OxA-18678 12,360 50 14,900 14,050 -24.7 13.0 Charcoal Juniperus sp. 136 HF 254 E-facing UT X Two large charcoal pieces were dated.

Low C yield.

OxA-18795 12,750 50 15,580 14,760 -23.6 43.3 Charcoal Cupressus sp. 186 HF 292 N-facing MT XV—XIV Mix of charcoal with sediment. Humics.

OxA-18796 13,190 50 16,630 15,390 -24.0 49.0 Charcoal Pistacia sp. 187 HF 295 N-facing MT XV—XIV Small (<1 mm) charcoal in sediment.

OxA-18836 170 25 290 modern -22.0 63.5 Charcoal Cupressus sp. 194 HF 296 N-facing MT XVII—XVI One charcoal piece was selected

OxA-18797 26,850 130 31,420 31,060 -23.5 55.2 Charcoal Juniperus sp. 207 HF 304 N-facing MT XX Small charcoal, <2 mm.

OxA-19184 9425 40 10,760 10,560 -25.4 59.8 Charcoal Juniperus sp 176 HF 317 N-facing MT X Mix of charcoal with sediment. Humics.

OxA-19158 9740 45 11,250 10,890 -23.9 63.9 Charcoal Juniperus sp 177 HF 319 N-facing MT XI—X Mix of charcoal with sediment. Humics.

0xA-19028 6413 32 7420 7270 -23.9 58.2 Charcoal Rhus sp. tripartita 132 HF 380 S-facing UT VIII Mix of charcoal with sediment. Humics.

OxA-19185 12,395 50 14,950 14,100 -21.2 55.2 Charcoal Juniperus sp. 181 HF 388 N-facing MT XIII—XII Mix of charcoal with sediment. Humics.

OxA-19186 12,430 50 14,980 14,130 -20.9 32.3 Charcoal Juniperus sp. 182 HF 390 N-facing MT XIII—XII Larger charcoal shards were used.

0xA-19029 11,795 45 13,790 13,450 -23.1 69.1 Charcoal Pinus sp. 238 HF 437 E-facing MT XII One discreet charcoal shard was used.

OxA-19187 12,260 45 14,800 13,920 -22.3 54.5 Charcoal Pinus sp. 238 HF 438 E-facing MT XIV Mix of charcoal with sediment. Larger

charcoal fragments were used.

0xA-19030 11,160 45 13,220 12,850 -23.9 58.0 Charcoal Juniperus sp. 179 HF 454 N-facing MT XI Mix of charcoal with sediment. Larger

charcoal fragments were used.

OxA-19188 12,040 65 14,060 13,730 -22.3 56.3 Charcoal Pinus sp. 238 HF 458 E-facing MT XIV Mix of charcoal with sediment. Larger

charcoal fragments were used.

OxA-19571 18,720 100 22,630 22,030 -22.6 18.3 Charcoal Rhus sp. 244 HF 464 E-facing MT XVII Mix of charcoal with sediment. Larger

charcoal fragments were used. Low

C yield.

OxA-19189 13,360 55 16,840 15,900 -23.6 52.8 Charcoal Rhus sp. 240 HF 467 E-facing MT XVI—XV Mix of charcoal with sediment. Larger

charcoal fragments were used.

OxA-22161 9840 60 11,410 11,150 -26.0 59.6 Charcoal n/a 177 HF 726 N-facing MT X Mix of charcoal with sediment.

OxA-22162 27,900 210 32,790 31,480 -24.0 63.8 Charcoal n/a 443 HF 766 N-facing MT XX—XIX Mix of charcoal with sediment. Five

small fragments were used.

OxA-22163 101 29 270 10 -25.2 65.8 Charcoal n/a 201 HF 767 N-facing MT XVIII—XVII

OxA-22164 26,120 170 31,140 30,490 -24.7 66.2 Charcoal n/a 246/236 HF 768 N-facing MT XXII—XXI

OxA-22165 229 27 310 modern -24.2 58.3 Charcoal n/a 465 HF 806 N-facing MT XX Five small fragments were used.

OxA-22166 224 27 310 modern -22.2 58.6 Charcoal n/a 465 HF 807 N-facing MT XX Five small fragments were used.

OxA-22232 135 26 280 0 -22.3 63.8 Charcoal n/a 234 HF 808 N-facing MT XX Single charcoal fragment was used.

OxA-22137 10,900 45 12,920 12,630 -23.2 61.1 Charcoal n/a 180 HF 1048 N-facing MT XII

OxA-22138 11,855 50 13,850 13,480 -23.5 54.7 Charcoal n/a 183 HF 1050 N-facing MT XIII

UBA-16129 32,656 164 37,850 36,610 -22.1 n/a Charcoal n/a 236 S2199 W-facing MT XXII, XXI or XXB

UBA-16131 41,658 367 45,790 44,540 -24.6 n/a Charcoal n/a 494 S2254 W-facing MT XXV

UBA-16132 32,766 145 38,070 36,680 -23.8 n/a Charcoal n/a 236—441 S2282 W-facing MT XXII, XXI or XXB

UBA-16133 38,085 362 43,160 42,010 -23.6 n/a Charcoal n/a 506 S2475 W-facing MT XXIX

UBA-16134 48,571 1036 51,020 46,700 -26.0 n/a Charcoal n/a 521 S2534 W-facing MT XXXIV—XXXIII

K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

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K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

with the Oranian/Capsian transition. The shells were scanned for post-depositional alteration using high-precision X-Ray diffraction (Douka et al., 2010a). No secondary calcite was identified and the samples were considered suitable for dating using the routine protocol of the ORAU, which involves phosphoric acid dissolution, and CO2 purification prior to graphitization and AMS measurement (Brock et al., 2010). The three beads resulted in stratigraphically coherent dates (Table 1).

In the case of terrestrial molluscs, the dating program concentrated on Helix melanostoma because of the relatively constant pattern of fractionation found in in-progress Ph.D. research (see SOM 4: Radiocarbon (14C) dating: terrestrial molluscs). Twenty-eight molluscs have been dated, all from Trench M (Contexts 10,006—10,011). Their ages closely correlate with a series of charred pine cones from the same contexts, the comparison of the two series allowing the calculation of the 'limestone effect' at the site (Goodfriend and Stipp, 1983).

All terrestrial 14C measurements were calibrated using lntCal09, the most recent internationally agreed calibration curve available (Reimer et al., 2009). The four marine results were calibrated with Marine09, which incorporates a global marine reservoir correction of 400 14C years. ln addition, a local Mediterranean reservoir correction of 58 ± 8514C years was applied (Reimer and McCormac, 2002). The terrestrial gastropods were corrected for the 'limestone effect' by subtracting 410 ± 2414C years prior to calibration (see SOM 4).

The five earliest radiocarbon dates (UBA-16129, UBA-16131—34 and OxA-22164), from Facies 5 and Facies 3 (Table 1 and Fig. 6) were obtained using the ABA pretreatment protocol, the method most widely used by all radiocarbon laboratories. However, it has been shown over the last few years that ABA does not efficiently decontaminate 'old' (>29—30 ka BP) charcoal samples when compared with a new more rigorous protocol (ABOx-SC: Bird et al., 1999): at almost all Palaeolithic sites where the latter has been applied, the results are older and more consistent both with the archaeological context and other independent markers, such as the Campanian Ignimbrite (CI) tephra (Douka et al., 2010b; Wood et al., 2012). The latter, 40Ar/39Ar dated at source to 39.28 ± 0.11 ka (error at 95.4% confidence interval) (De Vivo et al., 2001), has now been identified at the Haua Fteah (see below, Tephrochronology). The close association of the CI with UBA-1632 and UBA-16129, as well as with OxA-22164, suggests that the true age of these samples should be older, ~39.5 ka cal BP. When these samples were submitted for dating in 2008, the effect of ABOx-SC was not widely tested or appreciated.

The radiocarbon results in Facies 2 range from 27 ka to about 11 ka BP and agree well with the accepted age for Tephra T426 (see below, Tephrochronology), showing internal consistency with decreasing age moving up the stratigraphic column. The dates from Facies 1 also show good consistency, ranging from 12.3 ka BP to the Middle Holocene, and one reaches the historic period (OxA-18710). ln some cases, however, where duplicate dates were produced from the same sample (e.g., sample HF 243), variations were observed. This is attributed to the nature of the sample and the bad preservation state: the charcoal fragments, for example, were almost always mixed with clayey sediment, which had to be physically and/ or chemically removed during the pretreatment stage (see comments for each sample in Table 1). This opens the possibility that at least some of the samples were non-homogeneous, if not partially contaminated.


Contiguous 2 cm samples were taken through three overlapping vertical sampling columns on the west-facing section of the Middle Trench in order to investigate the presence of non-visible volcanic

ash layers (cryptotephra) (Fig. 8). The sediment samples were processed in the laboratory following the methods described in Blockley et al. (2005), which aim to isolate volcanic glass from its host sediment using the physical properties of the tephra (density and grain size) (SOM 5: Tephrochronology). lnitial investigations were carried out at a vertical sampling resolution of 5—10 cm respecting context boundaries (the interval was partly dependent upon the nature and thickness of the archaeological contexts). Concentrations of volcanic glass shards were calculated after counting from grain mounts under high-powered optical microscopy and are stated as the number of shards per gram of dry sediment (s/g). Where high concentrations of glass shards were

Sample column A Middle Trench (upper)

Archaeological complex

Levalloiso-Mousterian/ Dabban transition

ÜÜ O =)


2000 4000 6000

422 - 30 - ■ - 40 - 1

425 " - 50 - 1

218 428 424 - 70 - 1 - 80 - | - 90 -

190 - 100- ^

431 - 110- 1

432 - 120- "

- 130-

- 140 -

437 - 150-

438 - 170-

- " - 180-

- " - 190-

- " - 200-

- - - 210 -

236 - 220-

Sample column A Middle Trench (lower)

440 236


500 1000 1500

509 513

517 521



Figure 8. Tephra glass shard concentrations (shards/gram) for the upper and lower sample columns of the west-facing section of the Middle Trench (for location of sampling columns, see SOM Fig. S1). Approximate positions of archaeological complexes are noted in the left hand column. Context numbers refer to the CPP excavations. Microscopic inspection and chemical analysis confirm that the high tephra concentrations in the uppermost 72 cm represent remobilisation of tephra glass shards from the HF-T426 tephra layer (context 426), as do the fluctuating concentrations below it, an example of the bioturbation affecting the Haua Fteah sediments.

K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

located, these samples were re-visited at 2 cm resolution to pinpoint more precisely the stratigraphic position of the tephra horizon. A short section of the north-facing Trench M was also investigated at lower resolution. Tephra and standard results are presented in SOM Tables S2 and S3. Four tephra layers were located in the Middle Trench west-facing sample columns, of which the first three have been correlated to dated eruption events. HF_T426 The ~1 cm thick Context 426, at 60 cm depth in the sampling column, has been confirmed as a visible tephra layer that can be traced around the walls of the Middle Trench, occurring as Context 10,008 in Trench M (Fig. 6). Macroscopically the layer is a very fine-grained, grey, ashy horizon, which shows clear horizontal continuity (SOM Fig. S4). Under microscopic inspection, the layer is seen to be composed almost entirely of volcanic glass shards (<0.5% detrital grains content). These shards show a wide variety of morphologies, texture and colour. The shards generally show a low angularity and range from clear to light brown irregular shards with both open elongate and closed circular vesicles, to more blocky light brown shards with high microcryst content. Microcrysts are present in around 25% of the shards, either as isolated tabular crystals or in randomly oriented clusters. Shard sizes range from 30 to 250 mm on the longest axis. The homogeneous trachytic glass composition of HF_T426 correlates to the most recent Plinian caldera-forming event from Mount Etna in Sicily, known as the Biancavilla Ignimbrite (Coltelli

et al., 2000; Albert et al., 2013; Fig. 8b). A radiocarbon age estimate of 14,180 ± 260 BP or 17,920-16,810 cal BP (Kieffer, 1979; calibrated using lntCal09: Reimer et al., 2009) is reported from an in situ carbonized tree beneath the Biancavilla flow units at Vallone San Filippo.

HF_T441/442 A clearly defined rise in tephra shard concentrations was located at 18-24 cm depth within sampling column A (lower) (Fig. 8). The peak concentration of ~ 1400 s/g is centred at 20-22 cm, which lies at the contact between Contexts 441 and 442, a layer not visible macroscopically within the stratigraphy. The tephra shards in HF_T441/442 are colourless with platy to curvilinear form, often displaying fluted structures from the elongation of vesicles. Grain sizes (measurement of the longest axis) are <160 mm. Glass shards from T441/442 show a homogeneous phono-trachytic major and minor element composition (Fig. 9c). The Campi Flegrei has produced multiple Plinian and sub-Plinian eruptions over the last >60 ka (Wulf et al., 2004). The largest of these was the Campanian Ignimbrite (CI), a caldera-forming event that erupted 250300 km3 of magma (Costa et al., 2012). Detailed glass analysis from the main fall and flow units sampled close to the eruptive centre (more complete representations of tephra chemical composition than distal ashes: Albert et al., 2012) has recently been carried out by Tomlinson et al. (2012a). The compositional data from HF_T441/ 442 show a good match to this proximal record (Lowe et al., 2012; Fig. 9c). Major, minor and trace element concentrations separate

Figure 9. Glass composition of the Haua Fteah tephra layers (WDS-EPMA and LA—ICP—MS) and comparative reference data: (a) total-alkali-silica plot of tephra layers from the Haua Fteah; (b) HF_T426 compared to glass compositional envelope from Acireale proximal fallout deposit of the Biancavilla tephra (Albert et al., 2013); (c) HF_T441/442 and HF_T513 plotted alongside glass compositional envelopes from proximal outcrops of the CI main flow and fall units and three proximally described pre-Cl Campi Flegrei events TLa, TLc and TLf (data from Tomlinson et al., 2012a) and data from tephra layer TM-20-2a in Lago Grande di Monticchio. Error bars in bottom right corner of each plot indicate approximate two standard deviation uncertainty ranges for data produced within this study, based upon the reproducibility of secondary standard analyses run alongside the tephra data.

K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

the CI from the largest of a number of precursor events (TLa, TLc and TLf: Orsi et al., 1996; Pabst et al., 2008; Tomlinson et al., 2012a) and confirm that HF_T441/442 can confidently be assigned to the main explosive phase of the Cl eruption. As previously mentioned, the Cl has been 40Ar/39Ar dated to 39.28 ± 0.11 ka BP (De Vivo et al., 2001). HF_T513 A third tephra layer was located within Context 513, at 180—192 cm depth in Middle Trench sample column A (lower) (Fig. 8). The maximum shard concentration was 86 s/g. Morphologically, the tephra shards appear similar to those in HF_T441/442, although grain sizes (measurement of the longest axis) are limited to <80 mm. Major and minor element analysis of T513 describes a phonolitic composition, with only one compositional outlier sitting within the trachytic field of a total alkali silica diagram (Fig. 9c). The broad compositional similarity of HF_T513 with HF_T441/442 suggests that they are from the same Campi Flegrei source area, but, as can be seen in the major and trace element bi-plots, the two eruptions are compositionally distinct. Several 'Pre-Cl' tephra layers have been described from outcrops within the Campi Flegrei (e.g., TLa, TLc and TLf: Orsi et al., 1996; Pabst et al., 2008; Tomlinson et al., 2012a), at sites across the Campanian Plain (e.g., SA3-a: Di Vito et al., 2008) and within the high resolution tephrostratigraphic record of Lago Grande di Monticchio (e.g., TM-20-2a and >8 other layers: Wulf et al., 2004). Based upon major, minor and trace elements compositions, the closest match for HF_T513 is to glass composition data on the TM-20-2a tephra layer from Lago Grande di Monticchio (Wulf et al., 2007; Fig. 9c). The latter, found at a depth of 43.5 m and 6.0 mm thick, was most likely generated by a much lower magnitude eruption than, for example, the Cl (-260.0 mm). TM-20-2a has a varve age of 68,620 ± 2060 calendar years (ca. 3% varve counting error). HF_T526/527 Tephra shards were found throughout Contexts 526 and 527 in concentrations of <141 s/g, and in trace concentrations (<5 s/g), reaching into the base of Context 524 and the upper part of Context 528 (Fig. 8). The distribution is variable, concentrated mainly at 248—258 cm depth, at the boundary between the two contexts. Shard morphologies show a range of platy, rather featureless, curvilinear forms, to elongate fluted and angular shards with open vesicles. All shards are colourless and have maximum long axis of -70 mm. Sample HF T526/527 within WDS-EPMA had a variable chemical composition, being comprised of at least two rhyolitic populations and a smaller number of shards of trachytic composition (Fig. 9c). This variability indicates a mixed population of tephra from multiple volcanic events. These events may have occurred closely spaced in time, or their proximity may result from reduced sedimentation rates and syn-depositional reworking, which would cause them to be spread out and mixed within the stratigraphy. In the pre-Cl Mediterranean volcanic record, a small number of explosive eruptions are believed to have generated widespread rhyolitic tephra layers. These include eruptions from Nisyros lsland in the Hellenic Arc (Volentik et al., 2005; Tomlinson et al., 2012b) and numerous eruptions from rhyolitic centres in the Central Anatolian Province such as Acigol and Hasan Dagi (Deniel et al., 1998; Kuzucuoglu et al., 1998; Mouralis et al., 2002). However, all of these events are poorly dated, little is known about the distal dispersal of their tephra, and where single-grain glass chemistry is available it does not show a match for HF_T526/527, which at present, therefore, remains uncorrelated.

OSL dating

Twelve samples for OSL dating were collected at semi-regular intervals (-every 30—50 cm) from the top to the bottom of the south face (north-facing section) of the Middle Trench (Figs. 5 and

6). The samples were measured and analysed in the OSL dating laboratory at the University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia. One duplicate sample (HF10) was measured in the OSL dating laboratory at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK (Russell and Armitage, 2012). The sample names and associated sample contexts are listed in Table 2. Full details of sample collection, preparation and measurements are provided in SOM 6: Optically stimulated luminescence dating.

The equivalent dose (De) is a measure of the radiation energy absorbed by a grain during the period of burial. We measured De values in two ways, owing to the paucity of grains in our preferred grain size fraction (180—212 mm in diameter). We first measured multi-grain aliquots of each sample, in which each aliquot consisted of either -15 grains of 60—90 mm in diameter, or —8 grains of 90—125 mm in diameter. Because the multi-grain aliquots each represents the average of many grains, it is not possible to decipher from these measurements alone what the De distributions may mean with regards to grain behaviour and burial history. This can only be achieved by measurement of individual grains (e.g., Jacobs and Roberts, 2007). Therefore, in this study, we also measured individually the few grains recovered of 90—125 mm and 125— 212 mm in diameter. This allowed us to test whether we are obtaining accurate estimates of De using small multi-grain aliquots and how these values could be combined to obtain a final estimate of De for age calculation.

Of the 8200 multi-grain aliquots measured, 3272 aliquots (39.9% of the total number measured) were used for final De determination. Reasons for rejecting multi-grain aliquots are provided in SOM Table S4. On average, most aliquots were rejected due to poor recycling ratios. Those that were accepted were typical of aliquots dominated by the fast-component (SOM Fig. S8a). The De values for the accepted aliquots for each sample are displayed as radial plots in the left-hand column of SOM Fig. S10 and a representative example is provided in Fig. 10. ln such plots, the most precise estimates fall to the right and the least precise to the left. lf these independent estimates are consistent with statistical expectations, then 95% of the points should scatter within a band of width ±2 units projecting from the left-hand ('standardised estimate') axis to any chosen De value on the right-hand, radial axis. The radial plots, thus, provide simultaneous information about the spread, precision and statistical consistency of the De values (Galbraith, 1988, 1990).

lt is immediately apparent from these plots that, for each of the samples, the De estimates are spread too widely to fall within any single band of ±2 units. This is also reflected in the De overdispersion values (Table 2), which range from 15 ± 1% (HF1) to 30 ± 4% (HF9), and are greater than the 7% overdispersion obtained for sample HF7 under controlled laboratory conditions in a dose recovery test. However, all of the radial plots show that the vast majority of the De values are spread symmetrically around a common value. Such patterns are typical of samples that have been well-bleached prior to deposition and that have remained undisturbed since burial. There are, however, three interesting characteristics of note: a few samples show very distinct hard base-lines in their distributions (e.g., HF3), several samples show evidence of significant low outlier De values (e.g., HF7 and HF9), and some of the samples (e.g., HF10 and HF11) almost appear to consist of more than one population of De values.

Of the 6200 individual grains measured, only 780 grains (12.6%) were used for final De determination. Reasons for rejecting individual grains are provided in SOM Table S4. On average, most grains were rejected because they were too dim following a laboratory dose (TN signal < 3xBG). The De values for the accepted grains in each sample are displayed as radial plots in the right-hand column of SOM Fig. S10 and a representative example is provided in Fig. 10.

Table 2

Dose rate data, De values and OSL ages for multi-grain aliquots and single grains of 12 sediment samples from the Haua Fteah.

Sample Sample Grain Water Dose rate (Gy/ka) Number of Over-dispersion De value (Gy) Agea (ka)

name context size (mm) content(%) Beta Gamma Cosmic Total aliquots or grains (%)

HF1 180 60-90 2.7 1.07 ± 0.06 0.22 ± 0.01 0.045 1.37 ± 0.07 593/1000 (MG) 15 ± 1 25.1 ± 0.2 18.4 ± 1.0

180-212 1.00 ± 0.06 1.29 ± 0.07 53/100 (SG) 24 ± 4 26.0 ± 1.1 19.3 ± 1.4

HF2 185-188/189 60-90 11.1 1.61 ± 0.09 0.47 ± 0.02 0.045 2.15 ± 0.13 510/900 (MG) 18 ± 1 43.2 ± 0.4 20.1 ± 1.3

90-125 1.58 ± 0.09 2.12 ± 0.13 52/200 (SG) 25 ± 4 38.7 ± 1.5 18.3 ± 1.4

HF3 201 60-90 24.8 1.06 ± 0.07 0.48 ± 0.02 0.044 1.61 ± 0.13 534/1000 (MG) 18 ± 1 52.0 ± 0.5 32.4 ± 2.8

90-125 1.04 ± 0.07 1.59 ± 0.13 24/200 (SG) 65 ± 11 (25 ± 6) 50.6 ± 3.4 31.9 ± 3.5

HF4 235,439,444 90-125 30.7 1.78 ± 0.13 0.71 ± 0.04 0.042 2.73 ± 0.21 354/500 (MG) 24 ± 1 97.7 ± 1.6 38.2 ± 3.7

HF5 453 90-125 36.6 1.11 ± 0.08 0.65 ± 0.03 0.042 1.84 ± 0.18 129/200 (SG) 24 ± 2 86.8 ± 2.3 47.2 ± 4.9

HF6 498 90-125 37.0 1.46 ± 0.11 0.77 ± 0.04 0.041 2.30 ± 0.23 55/400 (MG) 29 ± 5 74.9 ± 4.0 32.6 ± 3.8

180-212 1.38 ± 0.11 2.22 ± 0.22 27/500 (SG) 168 ± 24 (26 ± 6) 106.4 ± 7.7 47.9 ± 6.0

HF7 503/504 90-125 33.8 1.34 ± 0.10 0.78 ± 0.04 0.040 2.18 ± 0.21 190/500 (MG) 24 ± 2 104.8 ± 2.8 48.0 ± 4.9

57/1000 (SG) 97 ± 10 105.5 ± 5.4 48.3 ± 5.3

(30 ± 4)

HF8 513 90-125 29.2 1.37 ± 0.10 0.70 ± 0.04 0.039 2.01 ± 0.19 175/500 (MG) 21 ± 2 106.4 ± 2.5 49.8 ± 4.7

125-180 1.30 ± 0.10 2.06 ± 0.19 120/1000 (SG) 60 ± 5 (20 ± 3) 95.0 ± 2.7 46.2 ± 4.5

HF9 536/537/562 90-125 22.0 0.72 ± 0.05 0.56 ± 0.03 0.038 1.35 ± 0.11 82/1000 (MG) 30 ± 4 89.2 ± 3.2 66.0 ± 5.8

180-212 0.68 ± 0.05 1.31 ± 0.10 87/800 (SG) 49 ± 5 (24 ± 4) 91.5 ± 3.6 69.7 ± 6.3

HF10 524 60-90 34.6 1.36 ± 0.10 0.72 ± 0.04 0.038 2.15 ± 0.21 373/900 (MG) 26 ± 2 130.8 ± 2.5 60.9 ± 6.1

180-212 1.26 ± 0.10 2.05 ± 0.20 112/2000 (SG) 19 ± 4 130.7 ± 3.7 63.7 ± 6.6

HF11 528 90-125 28.4 1.12 ± 0.08 0.72 ± 0.04 0.037 1.91 ± 0.17 405/1000 (MG) 26 ± 1 125.8 ± 1.7 65.8 ± 6.0

125-212 1.06 ± 0.08 1.85 ± 0.16 81/1000 (SG) 25 ± 4 131.1 ± 5.2 70.9 ± 7.0

HF12 525/565 180-212 25.6 1.03 ± 0.07 0.72 ± 0.04 0.036 1.81 ± 0.15 33/900 (SG) 24 ± 6 130.3 ± 7.9 71.9 ± 7.6

We consider the single-grain OSL chronology to be more reliable for our samples and those ages are highlighted in bold; see text for discussion. a Standard error includes all random and systematic uncertainties; see text for discussion.

Like the multi-grain aliquots, the single grain De distributions are also spread more widely than can be explained by measurement uncertainties alone. The single-grain De distributions are over-dispersed by between 19 ± 4% (HF10) and 168 ± 24% (HF6) (Table 2). The lower end of this range is typical of samples measured from around the world that are considered to be well-bleached prior to deposition, and that remained undisturbed since burial (Olley et al., 2004; Thomsen et al., 2005, 2007; Jacobs et al., 2006; Arnold and Roberts, 2009; Galbraith and Roberts, 2012), but the upper end suggests significant contamination. However, the data cannot be interpreted without looking at the De distribution patterns when displayed as radial plots (SOM Fig. S6). From these it is evident that the large overdispersion for some of the samples is due to the presence of only a few precisely known grains that are 'modern' in age and that form a discrete De population (e.g., SOM Fig. S10: HF6). Note that in some samples there are

that are not consistent with zero. Such grains are considered part of the De distribution of those samples (e.g., SOM Fig. S11: HF9). We have also noted in SOM Table S5 that in many of these samples, there were always a few grains that were rejected on the basis of them being 'modern' (i.e., they have precise dose response curves, but no natural signal). These De values are not shown on the radial plots, since negative and zero De values cannot easily be plotted on such graphs (e.g., Arnold et al., 2009). So, in actual fact, the overdispersion values for these samples will be even larger. We are not sure how to interpret the results for such grains: they might simply be light-exposed grains that were not removed properly when sample preparation commenced, or they could be grains belonging to the 1950s backfill that were incorporated through bioturbation of sediments by e.g., mole rats, observed as burrows in the field (see section on 'The sedimentary sequence'). This may also explain the very young 14C ages that were obtained for five of the charcoal

also a number of grains with smaller-than-average De values, but samples (Table 1). If these grains are removed from the De

Single aliquots 90-125 Mm grains

Relative Error (%) 24 12 8 6 6 12 18 Precision

Single grains 125-180 |jm grains

Relative Error (%) 24 12 8 6 6 12 18 Precision

Figure 10. Representative radial plots of multi-grain aliquot and single-grain De distributions for OSL samples from the Haua Fteah. The plots shown here are for sample HF8; plots for all samples are provided in SOM 6. The OSL age for this sample was estimated using the central age model (CAM); the grey band is centred on the CAM weighted mean De value in each plot.

Table 3

ESR dating of tooth samples (all bovid, mainly Ammotragus sp.) from the Haua Fteah; see text and SOM 7 for discussion; dose-rate conversion factors after Guerin et al. (2011).

Lab CPP Location Context

number sample number

De U(EN) (Gy) (ppm)

U(DE) Thickness3 U(SED) Th(SED) K(SED) Gamma(SED) (ppm) (mm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) DRb (mGy/a)

Beta(SED) U-234/U-238 Th-230/U-238 U-series DRb age (ka) '


US-ESR calculations


Internal (EN) Beta (DE) Total DR Age +Error -Error Age DR (mGy/a) DR (mGy/a) (mGy/a) (ka) (ka) (ka) (ka)

2571 2573

832 721 723 776 778 882 933

Middle Trench Middle Trench Middle Trench Middle Trench Middle Trench Middle Trench Middle Trench Middle Trench

17.6 ± 1.0 0.22 31.9 ± 1.6 0.14

18.4 ± 1.4 0.06 17.3 ± 1.9 0.03 17.9 ± 1.0 0.14

17.5 ± 1.1 0.47 22.8 ± 1.1 1.04 22.3 ± 1.5 0.26

17.6 950 2.37 7.45 13,200 1003 ± 80

16.7 700 2.09 9.34 15,300 1003 ± 80 6.9 850 2.17 10.67 18,000 1003 ± 80 3.3 1600 1.91 9.64 18,600 1003 ± 80 7.7 1100 1.77 6.47 11,000 1003 ± 80

15.4 1350 2.44 8.62 13,700 1003 ± 80

18.9 1300 1.77 8.44 15,600 1003 ± 80

20.7 800 2.16 8.17 15,000 1003 ± 80

183 ± 13 1.09 ± 0.01 0.071 ± 0.014 7.3 -0.12 ± 0.46

264 ± 29 1.08 ± 0.01 0.081 ± 0.013 8.5 0.74 ± 0.57

257 ± 27 1.04 ± 0.01 0.042 ± 0.023 4.5 1.18 ± 1.23

137 ± 13 1.05 ± 0.01 0.030 ± 0.050 3.2 2.65 ± 1.89

130 ± 14 1.07 ± 0.01 0.035 ± 0.024 3.6 2.22 ± 1.71

137 ± 14 1.08 ± 0.01 0.082 ± 0.013 8.6 -0.38 ± 0.32

145 ± 14 1.10 ± 0.01 0.095 ± 0.012 9.9 -0.24 ± 0.30

230 ± 24 1.08 ± 0.01 0.060 ± 0.010 6.2 0.65 ± 0.53

15 ± 5 76 ± 26 1277 ± 85 13.7 1.3 1.2 13 ± 1

6 ± 2 64 ± 20 1337 ± 85 23.8 2.2 1.9 23 ± 2

2 ± 1 19 ± 13 1281 ± 85 14.3 1.5 1.4 14 ± 1

0 ± 0 3 ± 2 1143 ± 85 15.1 2.0 1.9 15 ± 2

4 ± 4 5 ± 4 1142 ± 85 15.6 1.5 1.3 15 ± 1

40 ± 12 58 ± 17 1238 ± 85 14.1 1.5 1.3 14 ± 1

85 ± 24 69 ± 17 1302 ± 86 17.5 1.7 1.5 17 ± 1

12 ± 3 73 ± 22 1318 ± 86 16.9 1.7 1.6 16 ± 1


number sample number

Location Context De (Gy) U(EN) U(DE) Thicknessa U(SED) Th(SED) K(SED) Gamma(SED) Beta(SED) U-234/U-238c

EU-ESR calculations

LU-ESR calculations

(ppm) (ppm) (mm) (ppm) (ppm) (ppm) DRb (mGy/a)


Internal Beta (EN) DR (DE) DR (mGy/a) (mGy/a)

Total DR (mGy/a)

Age (ka)

Internal Beta (EN) DR (DE) DR (mGy/a) (mGy/a)

Total DR

Age (ka)

2697 3013 Trench M 10,001 9.9 ± 0.4 0.11 4.5 1000 2.03 10.59 19,700 920 ± 115 232 ± 24 1.074 ± 0.020 14 ± 3 35 ± 3 1201 ± 117 8.2 ± 0.8 7 ± 1 17 ± 1 1176 ± 117 .4 8 ± 0.9

2698 3021 Trench M 10,001 9.0 ± 1.2 0.26 6.3 900 2.06 9.45 17,700 920 ± 115 235 ± 25 1.074 ± 0.020 33 ± 5 54 ± 4 1242 ± 117 7.2 ± 1.1 16 ± 2 26 ± 2 1197 ± 117 7.5 ± 1.2

2699 3031 Trench M 10,001 10.5 ± 0.6 0.11 6.0 1150 1.81 6.37 11,900 920 ± 115 131 ± 13 1.074 ± 0.020 15 ± 2 42 ± 3 1108 ± 115 9.4 ± 1.1 7 ± 1 20 ± 1 1078 ± 115 9.7 ± 1.1

2700 3045 Trench M 10,001 9.7 ± 0.9 0.05 3.6 1500 1.89 7.24 13,400 920 ± 115 112 ± 12 1.074 ± 0.020 6 ± 3 20 ± 1 1058 ± 115 9.1 ± 1.3 3 ± 1 9 ± 1 1044 ± 115 9.2 ± 1.3

2701 3066 Trench M 10,001 9.5 ± 0.5 0.29 4.9 1550 1.77 6.04 12,100 920 ± 115 97 ± 9 1.074 ± 0.020 40 ± 5 26 ± 1 1083 ± 115 8.7 ± 1.0 19 ± 2 13 ± 1 1049 ± 115 9.0 ± 1.0

2702 3069 Trench M 10,001 9.7 ± 0.7 0.17 4.2 1100 2.27 5.62 11,500 920 ± 115 139 ± 14 1.074 ± 0.020 23 ± 2 30 ± 2 1112 ± 115 8.7 ± 1.1 11 ± 1 15 ± 1 1085 ± 116 8.9 ± 1.1

2703 3074 Trench M 10,004 7.6 ± 0.8 0.33 5.0 1050 2.44 5.71 7900 920 ± 115 120 ± 13 1.074 ± 0.020 43 ± 4 37 ± 3 1120 ± 115 6.7 ± 1.0 21 ± 3 18 ± 1 1079 ± 115 7.0 ± 1.0

2704 3076 Trench M 10,005 9.6 ± 0.5 0.15 1.9 1150 1.90 8.23 17,800 920 ± 115 180 ± 18 1.074 ± 0.020 20 ± 2 13 ± 1 1133 ± 116 8.3 ± 0.9 9 ± 2 6 ± 1 1115 ± 116 8.5 ± 0.9

2705 3095 Trench M 10,005 9.8 ± 1.0 0.18 6.1 900 2.22 7.09 15,500 920 ± 115 210 ± 23 1.074 ± 0.020 23 ± 4 52 ± 3 1205 ± 117 8.1 ± 1.1 11 ± 1 25 ± 2 1166 ± 117 8.4 ± 1.2

2706 3101 Trench M 10,005 10.6 ± 2.2 0.20 5.5 850 1.56 5.93 11,300 920 ± 115 162 ± 17 1.074 ± 0.020 26 ± 4 50 ± 4 1158 ± 116 9.1 ± 2.1 12 ± 2 24 ± 2 1118 ± 116 9.4 ± 2.2

2707 3145 Trench M 10,001 7.4 ± 0.5 0.13 2.8 1400 1.60 7.43 13,700 920 ± 125 118 ± 12 1.074 ± 0.020 17 ± 3 16 ± 1 1071 ± 115 6.9 ± 0.8 8 ± 1 8 ± 1 1054 ± 115 7.0 ± 0.9

Notes: De: Equivalent Dose; DR: Dose Rate; EN: Enamel; DE: Dentine; SED: Sediment; US-ESR: Combined U-series/ESR dating (Grün et al., uptake.

Age calculations with ESR data (Grün, 2009b). Detection limits: U: 0.01 ppm; Th: 0.03 ppm; K: 500 ppm. Alpha efficiency: 0.13 ± 0.02 (Grün and Katzenberger-Apel, 1994). a 50 mm removed from each side; 25 mm uncertainty in each measurement. b Water: 10 ± 5%. c Average from first data set.

1988); CSUS-ESR: Closed system U-series - ESR dating (Grün, 2000); EU: Early U uptake; LU: Linear U

K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

distributions, then the overdispersion values for the different samples (indicated in brackets in Table 2) range between 19 ± 1% (HF10) and 40 ± 4% (HF9), similar to the range observed for the multi-grain aliquot measurements.

The random incorporation of these 'modern' grains into a multi-grain aliquot can also explain all three of the patterns discussed above for the multi-grain aliquots. 'Modern' grains represent between 2.3% (HF9) and 38.9% (HF6) of the measured grains in the samples where they were observed. How their incorporation into the multi-grain aliquots affected the final De value will partly depend on the proportion of modern grains measured for each sample: the higher the proportion, the more likely it will be to get an underestimate of De from multi-grain aliquots. When these 'modern' grains are omitted from the De distributions, the singlegrain De distributions can be best explained as having been well-bleached prior to deposition and undisturbed since burial.

We used the central age model (CAM) of Galbraith et al. (1999) to combine the individual multi-grain and single-grain De values meaningfully in order to obtain the most accurate estimate of De for age calculation. For the single-grain distributions, we first removed the 'modern' grains before applying the CAM. The smaller-than-average De values, other than those that are 'modern', were not removed; their inclusion would lead to a larger uncertainty on the CAM De value, but they do not appear to skew the weighted mean value significantly. The CAM model assumes that the De values for all grains/aliquots are centred on some average value of De (similar to the median) and the estimated standard error takes account of any overdispersion. Information about the number of grains measured and used, the grain size, overdispersion values calculated and the final De ± 1s value for each sample is presented in Table 2 for the multi-grain and single-grain measurements.

The environmental dose rates (the rate of supply of ionising radiation to the grains over the burial period) mostly vary over a narrow range between 1.6 and 2.3 Gy/ka, and there is no obvious pattern of variation with depth (Table 2). There is one conspicuously higher value of 2.73 Gy/ka for HF4. There are also two samples (HF1 and HF9) with lower dose rates of ~ 1.30-1.37 Gy/ka, respectively. Sample HF1 was collected from a loose snail-shell rich layer, whereas sample HF9 was collected from a yellow baked layer underneath some ashy material. HF1 also had much lower moisture content than any of the underlying samples, which contained a much higher proportion of silts and clays.

The De and dose rate information is presented in Table 2, together with the OSL ages for all samples. The OSL ages for the twelve samples are in correct stratigraphic order for both the small multi-grain aliquots and the single grains. Both aliquots and grains produce statistically comparable ages where comparisons are available for eight samples, with the notable exception of HF6. This sample was unusual in that 38.9% of the individual grains measured were 'modern' (SOM Table S4), and while these grains could be identified and removed from the single grain data set, they appeared to have contaminated a significant fraction of the multi-grain aliquots of this sample. For this reason, amongst others, we consider the single-grain OSL chronology to be more reliable for our samples and those ages are highlighted in bold in Table 2. The ages range from ca. 19 ka at the top of the Middle Trench (HF1) to ca. 70 ka at the base (HF12). The four lowermost samples (HF9-12) date to between 70 and 65 ka, and the overlying four samples (HF5-8) all cluster closely at ca. 47-48 ka. HF4 and HF3 gave ages of 38 ± 4 ka and 32 ± 4 ka, respectively. The uppermost two samples (HF2 and HF1) gave statistically consistent results of ca. 18-19 ka. Overall, therefore, there is good internal stratigraphic coherence amongst all of the OSL ages, whilst they also confirm the very variable rates of sedimentation indicated by the sedimentological and stratigraphic studies discussed above.

There are, in general, good correspondences between the OSL ages, 14C ages and ages of the tephra horizons, apart from the apparent mismatch between the OSL age for HF8 of 46 ± 5 ka and the age of the tephra (T513) in the same context of 68.6 ± 2.1 ka. We observed at the time of sampling that sample HF8 was collected from hearth-ash mixed in with sediment and that the sediments were likely post-dating the hearth-like layer. As noted above, the underlying sample, HF9, with an OSL age (70 ± 6 ka) consistent with the tephra age, was collected immediately underneath this hearth-like layer in a yellowish baked sediment layer. Thus, HF8 sediments may have been incorporated at ca. 46 ka into the underlying layers in which the tephra shards were found. This also agrees with the sedimen-tological observation that the top of Facies 4, from which HF8 was collected, represents a heavily weathered anthropogenic burning event, suggestive of a relatively long surface exposure. In other words, if the sediments associated with this burning event represent the last time that the surface was exposed to sunlight, and the assumption is that that surface represents a significant hiatus in sediment deposition, then one would expect the OSL age to be much younger than the in situ and underlying tephra, and more similar to the ages of the start of Facies 3, which essentially buried the surface sediments exposed at the top of Facies 4. The OSL age for the base of Facies 3 is indeed consistent with that obtained for HF8 at the top of Facies 4.

None of the OSL samples is stratigraphically directly comparable with the CI tephra (T441/442), but two of the OSL ages bracket this layer (HF4 and HF5). Sample HF5, located ~ 30 cm below T441/442 and dated to 47 ± 5 ka, is older than TT441/442. Sample HF4, located ~20 cm above T441/442, unfortunately did not yield sufficient grains >125 mm in diameter, but the multi-grain aliquot age of 38 ± 4 ka corresponds closely with the 40Ar/39Ar age for the CI tephra of 39.28 ± 0.11 ka (De Vivo et al., 2001).

The uppermost and macroscopically visible tephra layer (T426) was identified along the east face (west-facing section) of the Middle Trench and corresponds most closely with OSL sample HF2 located immediately above it, which gave an age of 18 ± 1 ka. This is statistically consistent with the age assigned to the tephra of 16.817.9 ka cal BP at the 95% confidence interval, and with a range of consistent 14C ages. The uppermost OSL sample HF1 that gave an age of 19 ± 1 ka appears, however, to be systematically too old by 4-5 ka when compared to 14C ages from similar or slightly deeper contexts (e.g., OxA-19029, OxA-19185, OxA-19186, OxA-19187 and OxA-19188).

An inter-laboratory comparison of sample HF10, from which a duplicate tube was dated at Royal Holloway, University of London (Russell and Armitage, 2012), is discussed in the SOM.

ESR dating

Animal teeth were collected from the cleaned faces of the Middle Trench, especially from the north-facing section, and sent for ESR dating to the Australian National University (Canberra) in two batches (Table 3: Sample numbers 2564-2573 and 26972707). Sample preparation and ESR measurements followed the routine procedures of the ANU ESR laboratory (see SOM 7. ESR dating). Because of relatively low U-concentrations and strong U-series disequilibria, the internal enamel and dentine dose rates are very small. The differences in the age results using the p-value system and the closed system U-series/ESR model are within rounding errors (Grün, 2000). Because of the insignificant dose rate contributions of uranium in the dental tissues, the second set was not further analysed for U-series isotopes. The differences between the parametric early and linear U-uptake models (EU and LU) are no more than 300 years. This is

OxCal v4.1.7 Bronk Ramsey (2010); r:50 Atmospheric data from Reimer et al (2009);

End Facies 1 N.

OxA-18677 OxA-18794 OxA-18675 OxA-18667 OxA-18673* OxA-19028* OxA-18674 OxA-18678* OxA-19184 OxA-19158 OxA-22161 JL _JL _J 1 -L _L X iA _L

( ESR-2568* r- )


Facies 1

Start Facies 1


( HF1* ^-—i ID

OxA-19185 OxA-19186 OxA-22138* OxA-19029* OxA-19188 OxA-19187* JS

( ESR-2564 ZD

( ESR-2573 --- ZD


( ESR-2566 —HT^ — )

OxA-18796 ( ESR 2565* - A. A


T426 (T1) OxA-19189*

( ESR-2570* ZD

(ESR-2571 ^ - ZD

OxA-19571 i

( ESR-2569* ^— _)

( HF3 ID

OxA-18797 OxA-22162

(HF4* ID

Facies 2

Start Facies 2 -

T441/442 (T2)

( HF5 -, ZD

( HF6 ----- M - )

( HF7 - ZD

Facies 3 Start Facies 3

'( HF8* T513 (T3) ( HF9 --- )

Facies 4

Start Facies 4 ( HF10 - ——— )'

( HF11 - —a )

( HF12- —-- ID

Facies 5

Haua Fteah (Faci es 5-1)

i i i I......... ......... ......... ! ! ....... I......II 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 .........i

90000 80000 70000 60000 50000 40000 30000 20000 10000 0

Modelled date (years)

Figure 11. Bayesian model of Haua Fteah age determinations constructed around the five lithostratigraphic facies (Facies 5-1) identified in the sequence (for description see text). Radiocarbon ages from 50 ka BP onwards are calibrated using IntCal09 (Reimer et al., 2009). Older determinations were made with chronometric methods (OSL, ESR), which do not require calibration. The light grey probability distributions represent the calibrated/calculated measurements while in dark grey are the posterior distributions as calculated by the Bayesian model. The determinations classified as outliers are highlighted with an asterisk. Built with OxCal 4.1.7 (Bronk Ramsey, 2009a) (Figure: K. Douka).

K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

significantly smaller than the average errors on the EU and LU estimates, which are in the 1000-years range. Thus, any uncertainties introduced by modelling the uranium uptake history are minor, while at other sites this is often the largest error source for ESR dating of tooth enamel (Grün, 2009a).

The chronostratigraphy of the Middle and Upper Trenches

Using the four dating methods described above, we built a Bayesian statistical framework using the OxCal platform that allows the formal incorporation of external 'prior' information within an explicit probabilistic framework (Bronk Ramsey, 2001, 2009a). The advantage of using such a model is that it may result in the reduction in uncertainty of date estimates for a particular sedimentary facies or cultural phase. It also allows for an assessment of the correspondence between ages obtained using the same and/or different dating methods, and their correspondence to other independent proxies, such as the stratigraphy or archaeological context. The outlier detection analysis as described by Bronk Ramsey (2009b) was used to assess the likelihood of each result being consistent within the constraints of the modelled sequence, thus allowing for the identification of possible erroneous determinations or problematic stratigraphic contexts. An outcome of the model is the creation of a Probability Distribution Function (PDF) between each facies/phase boundary that represents the end and start dates of the corresponding facies/phases.

To maximize the information that we can gain from the chro-nometric determinations obtained for the Haua Fteah, two sets of priors were used to construct two different Bayesian models. The first model used, as prior information, the five major lithostrati-graphic facies defined by the CPP for the site (Fig. 11). The second model built the framework around the cultural phases identified by McBurney, on the basis of the CPP's identification of McBurney's layers in the cleaned faces of his trenches (Fig. 12). In the Discussion section we review the reliability of this cultural phasing as it is being assessed by the new excavations, particularly of Trench M.

The original standardised likelihoods are shown in Figs. 11 and 12 in light shaded grey, while the modelled or posterior probability densities are shown in a darker shade of grey/black. For 14C determinations, the calibrated age ranges are presented, expressed as calendar years before AD 1950 (i.e., cal BP; for the actual ranges see Table 1). The OSL ages are expressed as calendar years before today (i.e., not AD 1950) and do not have fully independent uncertainties associated with their age estimates; many of the errors are shared among all of the OSL ages and are referred to as systematic errors, which may include, for example, calibration errors for the various pieces of equipment that were used (Galbraith and Roberts, 2012). The error estimate unique to each OSL age is called the random error and is predominantly derived from the propagation of measurement uncertainties, which come from counting errors on each parameter measured (dose rate and equivalent dose), fitting uncertainties in De estimation, and variation between De values from different grains (see earlier discussion). The OSL ages reported in Table 3 include both the random and systematic uncertainties. When ages with common systematic errors and random errors are combined, only the latter should be included, so prior to construction of the Bayesian models, we excluded all systematic errors so that the 95.4% probability distribution for the OSL ages only includes the total random uncertainty associated with each age, following Rhodes et al. (2003).

In the following sections, BP and cal BP are exclusively used for 14C ages (raw and calibrated, respectively), whereas years or thousands of years (ka) are used for all other dating methods. When durations or start and end ages determined using the Bayesian model are reported, and such ages are made up from ages derived

using multiple methods, only years or ka are used. Ranges and ages discussed below are reported at the 68.2% confidence interval, and durations of phases at the 95.4% confidence level.

A Bayesian model within a sedimentological framework

The first Bayesian modelled sequence (Fig. 11) was constructed around the five major lithostratigraphic facies defined for the upper 7.5 m of the deposit shown in Fig. 6. Forty-eight new determinations were included: 25 14C dates on charcoal, 12 OSL determinations, eight ESR measurements, and the correlated ages for the three identified tephras. The 14C (Table 1) and ESR (Table 3) dating results from Trench M excavation were not included, as the major goal of the exercise reported here was to assess the chronological framework of the freshly-exposed sections of the McBurney excavation. We omitted the five 'young' 14C determinations (OxA-18836, OxA-22163, OxA-22165, OxA-22166 and OxA-22232); the historic 14C age at the top of the sequence (OxA-18710); four 14C measurements on marine shell ornaments from the McBurney collection whose precise locations compared to the CPP contexts cannot be defined yet (OxA-21085, OxA-21086, OxA-21087 and OxA-21088); and six 14C determinations for the oldest samples collected, thought to be underestimates of the true age as previously discussed (UBA-16129, UBA-16131—16134 and OxA-22164).

Initially, the determinations were divided in two broad sequences (Facies 5-3 and Facies 2-1) with different resolutions, and several sub-sequences and phases therein. In this first modelling attempt, 13 (~27%) of the 48 ages included in the model were identified as outliers (highlighted with an asterisk in Fig. 11); these were deemed 100—60% outliers and therefore did not contribute much to the constructed chronology. Nevertheless, the rest of the modelled results allowed us to estimate the start and end boundaries, as well as the most probable duration, for the five lithos-tratigraphic facies. These estimates should be treated with caution as they may change with the addition of further data.

The model indicates that the exposed and dated layers of Facies 5 were deposited between ca.75 and 65 ka, although the start date of Facies 5 is certainly earlier (see below, and Discussion). Facies 4 spans the interval between 68 and 47 ka, but a visual inspection of Fig. 11 reveals that the ages may be consistent with a temporal gap of relatively long duration. An alternative explanation may be that the sediments at the top of Facies 4, dated by OSL sample HF8, are associated with the start of Facies 3. This is in agreement with the sedimentological interpretation, which suggests that the top of Facies 4 is represented by a heavily-weathered layer, suggestive of prolonged surface exposure. HF8, thus, likely dated re-activation of sediment in this layer and initial sediment deposition at the start of Facies 3 rather than the latest deposition of Facies 4. The duration of Facies 3 is modelled during the period from 48 to 34 ka. The likely duration of Facies 2 is modelled between 35 ka and 12 ka. Facies 1b started ca. 13.6—11.9 ka and lasted until the mid-Holocene. Facies 1a continues to the present, and indeed is still accumulating.

In terms of Marine Isotope Stages, the modelled age spans indicate that Facies 5 (as exposed) falls almost completely within the early part of MIS 4 (dated globally to ca. 74—60 ka). Facies 4, beginning at 68 ka, developed from the middle of MIS 4 into MIS 3 (the latter dated globally to ca. 60—24 ka). Facies 2 spanned the latter part of MIS 3 and all of MIS 2 (dated globally to ca. 24— 11 ka), and Facies 1 developed during the Holocene. The dating of the upper part of the sequence fits broadly well with the environmental interpretations drawn from stratigraphy: the cooling evidenced by the eboulis-dominated Facies 2 (Fig. 13) is consistent with cooling at the end of MIS3 and into MIS2, and an

Figure 12. Bayesian model of Haua Fteah constructed around the broad archaeological divisions (Pre-Aurignacian, Levalloiso-Mousterian, Dabban, Oranian, Capsian, Neolithic) and including radiometric determinations (14C, OSL, ESR) and tephra (T) age estimates: (a) Pre-Aurignacian to Oranian; (b) Capsian and Neolithic. Determinations flagged as outliers are highlighted with an asterisk. The probability distribution function (PDF) for the Homo remains is plotted in (a) and indicated by an arrow. The radiocarbon measurements were calibrated using IntCal09 (Reimer et al., 2009) and the model was built with OxCal 4.1.7 (Bronk Ramsey, 2009a) (Figure: K. Douka). (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

e 1 d 1 c 1 b 1 a MIS 4 MIS 3 MIS 2 MIS 1

QxCal v4.2.2 Bronk Ramsey (2013); r.5

Facies 1 Facies 2 Facies 3 Facies 4

Facies 5*_

(* as currently exposed)

Haua Fteah PDFs (facies


Neolithic Capsian Oranian Dabban

Levalloiso-Mousterian Pre-Aurignacian *

(* as currently exposed)

Haua Fteah PDFs (culture ■ ■ ■ ■ ■........

phase duration)

120000 100000 80000 60000 40000 20000 0

Modelled date (years)

Figure 13. Probability distribution functions (PDFs) for the duration of each facies and for each archaeological phase as modelled in Figs. 11 and 12a and b. The PDFs, the numerical age estimates of which are shown in Table 4, are plotted here below the NGRIP oxygen isotope record. The latter is used as a proxy for temperature variation over the Last Glacial Cycle (North Greenland Ice Core Project members, 2004). The Marine Isotope Stages are also indicated on the top of the plot. Plot generated with OxCal 4.1.7 (Bronk Ramsey, 2009a) (Figure: K. Douka).

overall reduction of physical weathering with the start of Facies 1 is consistent with warming into the Holocene. Towards the bottom of the sequence, however, where the model relies on a relatively restricted number of dates compared with the upper part of the sequence that is supported by multiple dates and methods, there appears to be a slight disjuncture between the modelled dates, their relation to global changes and the environmental interpretations constructed for the facies. According to the model, the relatively homogeneous, silty, Facies 5 identified at the base of the Middle Trench was deposited during the very latter part of MIS 5 and mainly in early MIS 4, but very similar sediments appear to continue into the Deep Sounding for a further depth of ~ 6.5 m, suggesting that Facies 5 contains at least the latter part of MIS 5 as well as MIS 4. If correct, this would imply that the major global climatic shift that is the end of MIS 5 and the onset of MIS 4 had no impact on the sedimentation processes of the Haua Fteah and that severe cooling only accompanied the end of MIS 4, and is evidenced in the increased physical weathering in Facies 4, which dates to this period. It is possible that this disjuncture highlights a local lag in response in the cave sediments to global environmental change, but it is equally possible that the dating model requires further clarification at this depth before the response of the cave to environmental change can be fully understood.

A Bayesian model within a cultural framework

In a second modelling exercise, we built a framework around the cultural phases proposed by McBurney (1967), and used the correlated CCP contexts and McBurney layers to assign each age to a phase (Fig. 12a,b). In this model, 50 age determinations were used. The same samples that were excluded in the previous model were excluded again, and in addition OSL HF1 was also left out as being too old. Three 14C dates on marine shell ornaments from McBur-ney's excavations (OxA-21085, OxA-21087, OxA-21088) were included this time within the respective archaeological layers. OxA-21086 was not modelled because its precise location in the stratigraphy cannot be established. The model is shown in Fig. 12 with the ten outliers (~20% of the 50 ages) marked in black. As previously, we have calculated the duration of each cultural phase, which is essentially a probability distribution function between the start and end phase boundaries (Fig. 13).

The top of McBurney's earliest archaeological phase, the Pre-Aurignacian, has a single OSL age of 71.9 ± 7.6 ka for sample HF12 that was collected from the bottom of the Middle Trench, equivalent to his Layer XXXV (Table 4; Fig. 6). A new series of OSL samples was collected from the cleaned faces of the Deep Sounding after emptying its backfill in 2012, but the results from these are not yet available, so the start date and duration of the Pre-Aurignacian

K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1—25

Table 4

The chronology of prehistoric occupation in the Haua Fteah, according to the original study (McBurney, 1967) and the results of the Bayesian statistical modelling of the new determinations (14C, tephra, OSL, ESR). In the latter case, proposed modelled ages quoted here were generated from the probability distribution functions for each cultural phase and correspond to their most likely duration at 68.2% and 95.4% level of confidence.

Phase Layers Estimated age Proposed age (this study)

(McBurney, 1967) (ka)

(ka) 68.2% 95.4%

Pre-Aurignacian XXXV and 80—65 80.3-70.5 a 101.6-67.7

Levalloiso- XXXIV-XXV 65—40 68.1-48.7 73.3-43.5


Dabban XXV-XVI 40—15 40.0-18.1 43.5-17.1

Oranian XV-XI 15—10 16.1-13.1 17.2-12.5

Capsian X, IX 10—7 12.3-9.3 12.7-7.9

Neolithic VIII-IV 7—4.7 7.7-6.2 9.3-5.4

a The beginning of the Pre-Aurignacian is likely to extend much earlier than this; see text for discussion.

archaeological phase currently remain unknown (see Discussion, below).

The Levalloiso-Mousterian phase (McBurney's Layers XXXIV to XXV) is dated by six OSL samples and the tephra concentration HF_T513/T3 in Context 513, which we correlated with Layer XXX. In the Lago Grande di Monticchio record, this tephra was dated at 68.6 ± 2.1 ka (Wulf et al., 2007). While OSL sample HF8 from the same context is not identified as a certain outlier due to the specifics of the model, it is much younger; the reasons for this were discussed earlier (see 'OSL dating'). All of the other determinations demonstrate good agreement in relation to their relative strati-graphic positions. The modelling suggests a start date for the Levalloiso-Mousterian phase at some point between 75 and 70 ka (Fig. 12a) and that it lasted for about 30 ka, from 73 to 43 ka (Table 4). Based on a visual inspection of the age distributions within this phase (Fig. 12a), it may be possible to suggest that it occurred at two statistically-distinct time periods, from ~73 to 64 ka and from ~52 to 44 ka. The most likely age of the two modern human mandibles found in the Levalloiso-Mousterian Layer XXXIII is placed between 73 and 65 ka BP at the 95.4% confidence level (Fig. 12a: in green).

In our model, the start and the end of the Dabban are bracketed by the 39Ar/40Ar age of 39.30 ± 0.11 ka (68.2%) for the Campanian Ignimbrite and the 14C age for the Biancavilla Ignimbrite of 17,670— 17,070 cal BP. McBurney (1967) sub-divided the Dabban into an early and a late phase, obtaining five dates for its total duration, three for the former and two for the latter (SOM Table S1). When calibrated, these dates indicated that the Early Dabban fell between 39 and 32 ka BP and the Late Dabban between 22 and 19 ka BP. Our modelled results broadly agree with McBurney's findings: the duration of the Dabban is calculated to be between 40 and 18 ka (65.4%, ~22 ka) or from 43 to 17 ka (95.4%, ~26 ka), not too dissimilar to the ca. 20 ka duration calculated by McBurney (1967) (but see Discussion concerning the Levalloiso-Mousterian/Dabban transition).

The start date for the Oranian (McBurney's Layers XV—XI) is calculated between 17.0 and 16.0 ka (68.2%), the end at some point shortly after 13 ka and, therefore, its duration between 17.0 and

12.5 ka. This age range is older than McBurney's estimate of 15— 10 ka by about two to three millennia (Table 4).

McBurney (1967) judged the Capsian (in Layers X and IX) to be an entirely Holocene or Mesolithic phenomenon, dating it to ca. 10—7 ka (SOM Table S1). The new model places its beginnings at 12.9—12.3 ka in the terminal Pleistocene and its duration between

12.6 and 7.9 ka.

The start boundary of the Neolithic is rather long (8.5— 7.4 ka cal BP), but the earliest direct determinations place Contexts 132—131, which are the equivalent to McBurney's Layer VIII ('Pottery Neolithic'), at about 7.4—6.9 ka cal BP. This agrees rather well with the two determinations that McBurney obtained for this layer (SOM Table S1: NPL-42 and W-98), which, despite the much larger associated errors, when calibrated fall between 8.0 and 7.1 ka cal BP. His latest Neolithic dates, from Layer VI, which span between 6.7 and 5.4 ka BP, compare with our own estimate of ca. 6.4—6.2 ka BP for Context 129 (on the basis of a single sample) or about 6.4— 5.8 ka BP for the latest phase of Neolithic activity overlain by the construction of the Graeco-Roman structure.


The age of the initial use of the site can only be estimated tentatively so far because our earliest date is the OSL determination from the base of the Middle Trench. This corresponds to the top of the Pre-Aurignacian sequence defined by McBurney (1967), who found Pre-Aurignacian material in the underlying 5.5 m of the Deep Sounding, including near its base. Moreover, the CPP excavations in 2012 found a further ~ 1 m of undisturbed sediment at the base of the Deep Sounding with further, albeit scarce, evidence for human occupation below where McBurney ceased excavation. This included a small number of struck and retouched flakes and bla-delets, micro-debitage, marine shell including burnt fragments of Osilinus turbinatus, and burnt fragments of land snails such as H. melanostoma, both significant food sources in the Oranian and Capsian phases of occupation (Barker et al., 2012). The rather uniform sedimentary characteristics of the Deep Sounding profiles, including the newly excavated basal sediments, suggest that the Deep Sounding sediments probably accumulated within MIS 5 (Barker et al., 2012; Fig. 13).

The two modern human mandibles (Hublin, 2000) were found in Layer XXXIII near the base of the Levalloiso-Mousterian occupation, and there is good reason to suppose that modern humans were responsible for the Pre-Aurignacian material in the cave as well. The latter was primarily found in the base of the Deep Sounding, which in total removed ~ 8.75 m3 of sediment, whereas the Levalloiso-Mousterian material was collected from ~ 30.00 m3 of sediment in the lower part of the Middle Trench. Ongoing analysis of the Pre-Aurignacian and Levalloiso-Mousterian lithic assemblages in the McBurney Archive suggests that they are more likely to be sampling variants rather than distinct industries (Reynolds, 2012): all of the elements of the Pre-Aurignacian occur with variable degrees of expression in the Levalloiso-Mousterian. Marine molluscs are a frequent part of the fauna associated with the Pre-Aurignacian lithics and both these and fish and crab remains were recovered from the excavation at the base of the Deep Sounding (Barker et al., 2012), so it is possible that the Pre-Aurignacian is a littoral or coastal variant of a more general Middle Palaeolithic (or Middle Stone Age [MSA], to use the African terminology) adaptation in the Gebel Akhdar. A probable worked bone point was recovered from a Pre-Aurignacian level in the Deep Sounding in 2012 (Barker et al., 2012), adding to the worked bones in MSA contexts at Dar es-Soltan 1 (Ruhlmann, 1951) and El Mnasra (Hajraoui, 1994) as evidence of the use of this technology on the North African littoral at a time not dissimilar to its appearance along the coast in southern Africa where, like coastal exploitation strategies, it is associated with early modern humans (Henshilwood and Sealy, 1997; Henshilwood et al., 2001).

In recent years, the Aterian, an MSA industry that contains tanged pieces, blades, bladelets, and bifacial foliates with reduction that frequently involves small Levallois radial cores, sometimes associated with shell beads and pigments (Scerri, 2012), has

been regarded as a significant marker of the appearance of modern humans in North Africa (Garcea, 2004, 2009, 2010c; Bouzouggar et al., 2007; Dibble et al., 2013), having been found in association with modern human fossils at Mugharet el Aliya (Wrinn and Rink, 2003), Dar es-Soltan I (Barton et al., 2009), Contrebandiers (Nespoulet et al., 2008; Dibble et al., 2012) and Zouhrah (Trinkhaus, 2005; Fig. 1). Dates for the Aterian range from ca. 60—90 ka in the Sahara (Cremaschi et al., 1998) and ca. 85— 43 ka in the Gebel Gharbi mountains of Tripolitania, western Libya (Garcea, 2010c) to greater than 100 ka in the Maghreb (Barton et al., 2007, 2009; Richter et al., 2010; Schwenninger et al., 2010; Jacobs et al., 2011, 2012; Clark-Balzan et al., 2012). McBurney said at different times that the Aterian was both present and not present at the Haua Fteah, in part reflecting the continuing difficulties arising from the use of the term to describe the occurrence of either a few 'classic types' such as tanged pieces or a much larger repertoire of forms. The re-analysis of the MSA material in the archive indicates that there is a consistent but low frequency presence of elements that could be considered Aterian but nothing to define an assemblage as Aterian (Reynolds, 2012; Scerri, 2012). Isolated tanged pieces have been found by the CPP project in the environs of the cave and an industry with pedunculates was excavated in the Hagfet et-Tera cave at the western edge of the Gebel Akhdar, ~175 km from the Haua Fteah (McBurney and Hey, 1955; McBurney, 1960).

It has been suggested that the first systematic occupation of North Africa by modern humans was probably as a result of a northward movement across the Sahara in MIS 5, when wetter climates created a string of major lakes across what is now desert (Armitage et al., 2007; Osborne et al., 2008; Garcea, 2010c; Drake et al., 2011). Given the topographic isolation of the Gebel Akhdar, separated from the Maghreb by the hyper-arid Gulf of Sirte desert, there is at least as strong a case for Egypt and/or the Levant (where early modern humans at Qafzeh and Skhul possibly date to ca. 130— 70 ka, Shea, 2010) as the source for the Haua Fteah's modern humans. Their estimated age of 73—65 ka would place them within MIS 4, a period when the Qafzeh/Skhul hominins might have retreated to coastal refugia such as coastal North Africa (the Gebel Akhdar) and Arabia in response to overpopulation or climate change (Beyin, 2011).

Layer XXV, McBurney's transitional layer between the Levalloiso-Mousterian and the blade-based Dabban assemblages, is now dated to between 46 and 41 ka (Fig. 13: Dabban start boundary), well before the CI eruption, the products of which have been found in the cave. A start date for the Dabban at this time would be similar to the current dates for the first appearance of Upper Palaeolithic technologies in the Levant (Rebollo et al., 2011), Southern Europe (Benazzi et al., 2011) and Central and Northern Europe (Higham et al., 2011), with an important bearing on theories about the timing and direction of the spread of modern humans equipped with these technologies, including whether they spread from North Africa into the Levant or vice versa (Olivieri et al., 2006; Iovita, 2009).

However, it should be emphasised that the character and timing of the transition between the two industries are unclear. Layer XXV was dug in two spits (spits 32 and 33: Fig. 3, right image). McBurney (1967: 125) noted the presence of both Levalloiso-Mousterian and Dabban material in both spits, the greater frequency of the latter in the upper spit, but also the occurrence of occasional "more or less Levalloisoid" flakes in the overlying Level XXIV, which he regarded as likely to be intrusions from Layer XXV. The Trench M excavations have just reached this part of the stratigraphy and clarifying whether the transition from Levalloiso-Mousterian to Dabban technologies was gradual or sudden is an important focus of the new work.

It is apparent from the depth distribution of lithics recorded by McBurney, and also noted in Trench M, that despite its long duration the Dabban, like the Levalloiso-Mousterian, in fact consisted of subphases of activity separated by short, but distinct, temporal gaps. Its restriction to the Gebel Akhdar suggests that the latter, surrounded today by desert to the east, south, and west, is likely to have been a refuge for human populations during the oscillating climatic regime of MIS 3 and the prolonged period of cooling and associated aridity and landscape degradation that characterized MIS 2.

McBurney (1967) dated the first use of microlithic Oranian technologies at the site to ca. 14 ka, but the new model suggests that they started ca. 17—16 ka, coinciding with the beginnings of deglaciation after the peak of LGM conditions (North Greenland Ice Core Project members, 2004). Oranian technologies continued to be used at the cave until ca. 13—12 ka. Iberomaurusian microlithic technologies like the Oranian are evidenced in the Maghreb by ca. 26 ka (Barton et al., 2007; Bouzouggar et al., 2008) and in the Gebel Gharbi by ca. 20 ka (Garcea, 2010b). The time lapse in the appearance of microlithic technologies is at variance with theories of the Maghrebian Iberomaurusian having its origins in a westward migration of people from the Gebel Akhdar (e.g., Close and Wendorf, 1990; Pereira et al., 2010).

The Capsian phase at the Haua Fteah was dated by McBurney (1967) to between 10 and 7 ka. Our new chronological framework places its duration from 12.6 to 7.9 ka, so through the Younger Dryas cold stage into the Holocene. McBurney attributed the development of the Capsian across North Africa to population movements, but like the Oranian, from which it clearly developed, it seems more likely that it was primarily a behavioural response to climate change. In the Haua Fteah, there is evidence for subsistence diversification during the Younger Dryas: the hunting of Barbary sheep, gazelle (Gazella sp.) and hartebeest (Alcelaphus sp.); fishing; the collecting of crustaceans, marine molluscs and land snails; and the gathering of a range of plant foods including pine cones (which were stored), large-seeded legumes, fruits and berries (Barker et al., 2010). A possible interpretation of root etching on the butchery waste recovered from Trench M (indicating the growth of vegetation on discarded bones), and of the lack of trampling damage, is that the Early Capsian occupation of the cave was markedly seasonal. Changes in the size and abundance of Osilinus and Patella sp. shells indicate severe resource pressure or 'overgathering' from food scarcity at this time (Hunt et al., 2011).

The period after the 8.2 ka event (Weninger et al., 2006) does not seem to have been significantly drier at the Haua Fteah than the period before it, the land snail assemblages do not point to significant aridification (Hunt et al., 2011), and there does not seem to be a strong link between the 8.2 ka event and subsistence change as has been argued for in the eastern Mediterranean (Weninger et al., 2006) and the Maghreb (Jackes and Lubell, 2008). The first appearance of Neolithic pottery at the cave is now dated to ca. 7.4—6.9 ka, not dissimilar to McBurney's dates for this layer (VIII) of 8.0—7.1 ka (McBurney, 1967). Rather than a package of new resources, technologies, and associated behaviours appearing at the site at this time, there is evidence for piecemeal change, as appears to be the case elsewhere in North Africa (Linstadter, 2008; Dunne et al., 2012; Barker, 2013). The landscape around the site at this time was relatively open scrubland (Hunt et al., 2011 ). People continued to hunt species such as Barbary sheep and collect land snails (Trochoidea spp., Eobania spp., H. melanostoma) and marine molluscs (Patella caerulea, O. turbinatus), making fine drills ('mèche de foret') likely used as picks for removing the latter from their shells (Barker et al., 2012). There are less marked signs of resource stress in the land snails and marine molluscs (Hunt et al., 2011). This system of foraging, more or less a continuation of Capsian practices in the Early Holocene, was augmented at some stage in the Neolithic by sheep

K. Douka et al. / Journal of Human Evolution xxx (2013) 1-25

and goat herding (Klein and Scott, 1986), but there is no certain evidence for cereal cultivation in terms of directly-dated seeds. Later Neolithic occupation of the cave was more intensive and probably involved the stabling of animals as well as middening (Hunt et al., 2010). Whether the end of Neolithic occupation at the site ca. 6.2— 5.8 ka was related to the aridification that was widespread in the eastern Sahara at this time (Kuper and Kropelin, 2006; Cremaschi et al., 2010) is unclear. The really significant transformation in land use was in the Graeco-Roman period, when the cave was used for stabling livestock, as today, and there is evidence in its sediments and palynology for significant impacts on the landscape beyond the cave from ploughing and cultivation (Hunt et al., 2010).


Ever since the 1950s excavations by Charles McBurney, the Haua Fteah has held iconic status in North African prehistory because of its deep sequence of occupation. Yet several aspects of the character of its geological and archaeological sequences have remained unclear, and their chronology has been based on very early chrono-metric determinations, which required urgent revisiting. New work has been able to identify the McBurney layers in the well-preserved faces of his trenches and compare these with the stratigraphic units observed in the newly-recorded sections, and date the layers that McBurney linked to the major cultural phases of human occupation that he defined.

The project has still to fully characterize and date the sediments of the Deep Sounding, ~7.5—14.0 m below the present ground surface (Fig. 3), but the results of analysing the first main set of dating materials collected from the cleaned faces of the Middle and Upper Trenches (charcoal and land snails for 14C dating; tephras; sediments for OSL dating; and animal teeth for ESR dating) and marine molluscs (shell beads) from the 1950s archives, using a Bayesian statistical approach, have demonstrated that five major sedimentary facies can be recognised and that the upper four of these developed during MIS stages 4—1, though (apart from the Holocene Facies 1) not in strict synchroneity.

New excavations down the side of the McBurney trenches are not yet complete, but the preliminary findings of the project are that: (1) the major cultural units that he recognised (Pre-Aurigna-cian, Levalloiso-Mousterian, Dabban, Oranian, Capsian, Neolithic, Graeco-Roman, Modern) are appropriate except that the first two are likely to be sampling variants rather than distinct industries, (2) the two modern human mandibles have been dated to ca. 73—65 ka at the 95.4% confidence level, so within MIS 4, (3) the first appearance of the Upper Palaeolithic Dabban industry dates to ca. 43-40 ka BP, below Campanian Ignimbrite tephra dated to ca. 39 ka BP, but the character of the transition from the Levalloiso-Mous-terian is not yet clarified, (4) the first microlithic (Oranian) technologies date to soon after the peak of LGM conditions, (5) the increasingly microlithic Capsian developed in the Younger Dryas, (6) Neolithic pottery first appeared ca. 7.4—6.9 ka and sheep and goat herding somewhat later (not yet accurately dated), both being integrated within Capsian foraging systems, whereas the first evidence for plant cultivation is not until the Graeco-Roman period. The revised chronostratigraphy of the Haua Fteah, now dated with a precision unavailable to the original excavator, confirms the site as a reference sequence for North African prehistory, and for potential interactions between Africa, the Levant and Europe, from the first appearances of Homo sapiens to the spread of farming.


GB would like to acknowledge in particular the permission of the Department of Antiquities of Libya to undertake the project, and its

logistical support; and the financial support of the European Research Council (Advanced Investigator Grant 230421: TRANS-NAP project: Cultural Transformations and Environmental Transitions in North African Prehistory), the Society for Libyan Studies, the Leakey Foundation, and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC Radiocarbon Facility). KD was funded by the Leverhulme Trust project AHOB3. CL, VC, PA and ET were funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council consortium RESET (NE/E015670/1 and NE/E015905/1) and would like to thank Victoria Smith for the tephra EPMA. ZJ and RGR were supported by Australian Research Council grants DP1092843 to ZJ and DP0666084 to RR, RG, and ZJ. RI was supported by a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council doctoral award and Magdalene College, Cambridge. Tom Higham should be thanked for assistance with the radiocarbon dating programme at Oxford. Contributor roles: KD: Bayesian modelling; ZJ, RGR: OSL dating; CL, ET, PA, VC, SW: tephrochronology; RG, LK, MA: ESR dating; LF: geoarchaeology; RI: geomorphology, micromor-phology; CH: geomorphology, molluscan analysis; TR: excavation director, lithic analyses; EH: molluscan analysis; GB: project director.

Appendix A. Supplementary material

Supplementary data related to this article can be found online at


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