[meteorite-list] Arrowheads from NWA - post-Pleistocene

From: Thaddeus Besedin <endophasy_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 05:55:20 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <919546.96445.qm_at_web62505.mail.re1.yahoo.com>

     The small projectile points of the varieties
usually illicitly exported from Northern and Western
Saharan sites are technologically Mesolithic and
Neolithic; as such, most were produced after the
dissemination of animal husbandry, ceramics, and the
bow, and were thus produced after ~10,000 - 9,000 BP.
There is evidence that the bow had an earlier
introduction in localized variations of lithic
assemblages of this period - small projectile points
of the Capsian Epipaleolithic (Mesolithic) period may
have been used as arrow points. There is evidence of
atlatl(spearthrower) use in Africa as early as 25,000
BP, so most upper Paleolithic-Epipaleolithic
(Mesolithic) objects from the Western Sahara
classified as projectile points were probably used to
tip dart projectiles launched from atlatls, and are
metrically equivalent to atlatl points in use in the
Americas, where historical documentation by colonial
Europeans of their use exists (e.g. Aztec weapon
technology). Looted projectile points that have been
common on the antiquities market recently are not
typically the long, narrow lanceolate and often
unifacial late Ibero-Maurisian (Oranian) projectiles
(with parallel-oblique flaking) that are quite similar
to Magdalenian objects, but are instead small (<3cm in
length), bifacial, and barbed/stemmed or triangular
with concave or convex bases, although small, often
serrated bipointed and elliptical lanceolate forms
Both Oranian and Magdalenian cultures are
contemporaneous, with the Oranian usually considered
to begin between the end of the Oldest Dryas and the
onset of the B?lling Interstadial in the
Blytt-Sernander system, approximimately 15,000 BP, and
terminating with at the approximate initial Neothermal
Atlantic(Holocene)Atlantic period, when Capsian
Mesolithic (Epipaleolithic) industries superseded
Oranian Mesolithic industries in the archaeological
record (the Oranian Ibero-Maurisian-Capsian transition
is classified, as a chronological stage, independently
of European Mesolithic stages - the term
'Epipaleolithic' is applied instead). Magdalenian
technological components range in age from ca. 18,000
BP (W?rm Glacial Maximum)to ca. 11,000 BP (terminal
Pleistocene). Climatic correlation between those
environmental changes stimulating technological
innovation in Northwestern Africa (Oranian sites occur
from Libya to Morocco) and stadial/interstadial events
in Europe have not been adequately explored, so the
Blytt-Sernander system is used for convenience, since
a Mediterranean coastal focus is common to sites in
Northwest Africa with artifacts common to Oranian
industries, thus eustasy had direct impact on Oranian
settlement patterns and resource exploitation.
     Like Magdalenian industries, Oranian industries
produced blade (linear flake) tools, and when these
non-microlithic tools are predominant in single
components of Oranian lithic assemblages, these
assemblages are properly considered to be the products
of late Upper Paleolithic industries. With the
inclusion of microblade technologies in both Oranian
and Magdalenian assemblages, these assemblages are
classified as Mesolithic/Epipaleolithic; hafted,
highly standardized microblade-based lithic objects,
which were inserted in series into organic handles are
abundant in Mesolithic contexts from Europe to Alaska,
although most organic artifacts presumed to have been
present upon deposition of assemblages have
A distinction between Capsian Mesolithic and Capsian
Neolithic industries must be recognized, with
ceramics, in use beginning ~7,000 BP, a diagnostic
artifact of the Capsian Neolithic, which existed in
the middle Atlas region of Algeria from 6,200 ? 5,300
 Anyway, any projectile points predating 13,000 BP are
unsuitable for hafting as arrow points due to
excessive weight and length, and Capsian Neolithic
sites, producing the small, exquisitely-crafted
projectile points familiar to us, are found from
Tunisia (where the type site, Jabal al-Maqta?, is
located, on the shore of a salt lake) to Morocco.
This explains the intersection of meteorite collection
and artifact looting in Morocco and Algeria. You will
find that the morphology of projectile points acquired
from Moroccan dealers is almost always typical of
these later types. The Sahara is not all uninhabitable
dunes and barren rock, and did not undergo
desertification at the same rate everywhere. Today,
wetlands are still extant throughout the Western
Sahara, with perennial freshwater and brackish pools
and wetlands in the Atlas Mountain region where
Capsian culture flourished.

--- "E.P. Grondine" <epgrondine at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Hi Sterling, list -
> Bessey's "arrowheads" are likely far older than
> 13,000-9,000 years old (11,000 BCE - 7,000 BCE). The
> Sahara begins to dry up at the start of the Holocene
> by 8,350 BCE at the latest. (Atlantic impact.) The
> impact that produced the Alaskan and Siberian mucks,
> and altered the north Pacific currents, and the
> world's weather, are covered in my book "Man and
> Impact in the Americas".
> It is too bad these mucks are not absolutely dated
> yet. But 11,000 BCE would be a late date for
> Bessey's
> "arrowheads" (points) - most are likely far older.
> E.P. Grondine
> Man and Impact in the Americas
> > > --- "Sterling K. Webb"
> <sterling_k_webb at sbcglobal.net>
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > >> Hi, Tom, List
> > >>
> > >> Dean Bessey used to (may yet) sell neolithic
> > >> arrowheads from NWA. Most are probably 9000 to
> > >> 13,000 years old, from the time that the Sahara
> > >> was a well-watered grassland with scattered
> forest
> > >> stands and lots of big game, well illustrated
> in
> > >> the rock drawings the neolithic peoples left
> behind:
> Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha! Play Monopoly Here
> and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at Yahoo!
> Games.
> ______________________________________________
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> Meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com

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Received on Mon 11 Jun 2007 08:55:20 AM PDT

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