August 1, 2013

Nubian Complex in Central Arabia

The Nubian Complex MSA techno-culture arrived to Central Arabia, just south of Riyadh seemingly via the South

Rémy Cressard & Yamandú H. Hilbert, A Nubian Complex Site from Central Arabia: Implications for Levallois Taxonomy and Human Dispersals during the Upper Pleistocene. PLoS ONE 2013. Open accessLINK [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069221]

Abstract

Archaeological survey undertaken in central Saudi Arabia has revealed 29 surface sites attributed to the Arabian Middle Paleolithic based on the presence of Levallois blank production methods. Technological analyses on cores retrieved from Al-Kharj 22 have revealed specific reduction modalities used to produce flakes with predetermined shapes. The identified modalities, which are anchored within the greater Levallois concept of core convexity preparation and exploitation, correspond with those utilized during the Middle Stone Age Nubian Complex of northeast Africa and southern Arabia. The discovery of Nubian technology at the Al-Kharj 22 site represents the first appearance of this blank production method in central Arabia. Here we demonstrate how a rigorous use of technological and taxonomic analysis may enable intra-regional comparisons across the Arabian Peninsula. The discovery of Al-Kharj 22 increases the complexity of the Arabian Middle Paleolithic archaeological record and suggests new dynamics of population movements between the southern and central regions of the Peninsula. This study also addresses the dichotomy within Nubian core typology (Types 1 and 2), which was originally defined for African assemblages.


Figure 3. Levallois methods schemata: figuration of product and core shapes for each method.
A: Preferential Levallois flake production with centripetal preparation; B: Preferential Levallois point production with unidirectional convergent preparation; C: Nubian Levallois type 1 with distal divergent preparation; D: Nubian Levallois type 2 with double lateral preparation; E: Nubian Levallois type 1/2 with mixed type 1 and type 2 preparation.
Figure 10. Schematic representation depicting the three main dorsal preparation types, preparation type 1, 2 and 1/2, and the proposed reduction succession discussed in the text.
In order to facilitate comprehension cores, end-products and preparation by-products have been color-coded; blue equals type 1 preparation, green type 2 and yellow type 1/2.

Many more images of interest for experts or qualified amateurs are available in this high quality study. For the less specialized reader it is probably more interesting to ponder the overall extension of the Nubian Complex:

Figure 11. Distribution of main sites with Nubian cores in Eastern Africa and Arabia.
Illustrated cores do not represent actual size. 1. Al-Kharj 22 (this study); 2. Aybut Al Auwal [12]; 3. Shabwa [30]; 4. Hadramawt [5], [6], [27]; 5. Aduma [112]; 6. Gademotta [113]; 7. Asfet [114]; 8. Nazlet Khater 1 [115]; 9. Abydos [66].

The authors argue that Southern and Central Arabia are the Easternmost reaches of this complex, however we cannot forget that the recent discovery of Indian sites with a complex industry, dated to c. 96 Ka ago, of Nubian, Aterian and other MSA affinities challenges this notion.

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