Scientific article

Between continuity and discontinuity: An overview of the West African Paleolithic over the last 200,000 years

Published inQuaternary International, vol. 466, p. 3-22
Publication date2018

In Paleolithic settlement models for Africa, West Africa has been neglected, if not entirely ignored, due to an obvious lack of research in the region but also of the availability of reliable and precise chronostratigraphic data. However, since 1997 research conducted at Ounjougou (Mali) has significantly updated our view of the West African Middle Stone Age with the establishment of the first archaeological and chronostratigraphic sequence and use of a comprehensive geomorphological approach. This site complex has provided most of the data for MIS 5 to 3, but in order to document MIS 2, one must turn to the Falémé Valley (Senegal), where data is now available from research conducted since 2011. Complemented with other scattered data from West Africa, it is now possible to propose a nearly continuous techno-cultural history for the Upper Pleistocene, supplemented by substantive evidence from the Early Holocene. We can now demonstrate significant diversity in lithic production systems, the probable times of their appearance and disappearance, and their very rapid rate of change. The Middle Stone Age in West Africa thus reflects a unique techno-cultural mosaic and technological history, very different from that observed in the Sahara and North Africa.

  • West Africa
  • Middle Stone Age
  • Diversity
  • Ounjougou
  • Falémé
Citation (ISO format)
CHEVRIER, Benoît et al. Between continuity and discontinuity: An overview of the West African Paleolithic over the last 200,000 years. In: Quaternary International, 2018, vol. 466, p. 3–22. doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2017.11.027
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1040-6182

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