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New data on settlement and environment at the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary in Sudano-Sahelian West Africa: Interdisciplinary investigation at Fatandi V, Eastern Senegal

Published inPLOS ONE, vol. 15, no. 12, e0243129
Publication date2020
Abstract

The end of the Palaeolithic represents one of the least-known periods in the history of western Africa, both in terms of its chronology and the identification of cultural assemblages entities based on the typo-technical analyses of its industries. In this context, the site of Fatandi V offers new data to discuss the cultural pattern during the Late Stone Age in western Africa. Stratigraphic, taphonomical and sedimentological analyses show the succession of three sedimentary units. Several concentrations with rich lithic material were recognized. An in situ occupation, composed of bladelets, segments, and bladelet and flake cores, is confirmed while others concentrations of lithic materials have been more or less disturbed by erosion and pedogenic post-depositional processes. The sequence is well-dated from 12 convergent OSL dates. Thanks to the dating of the stratigraphic units and an OSL date from the layer (11,300–9,200 BCE [13.3–11.2 ka at 68%, 14.3–10.3 ka at 95%]), the artefacts are dated to the end of Pleistocene or Early Holocene. Palaeoenvironmental data suggest that the settlement took place within a mosaic environment and more precisely at the transition between the open landscape of savanna on the glacis and the plateau, and the increasingly densely-wooded alluvial corridor. These humid areas must have been particularly attractive during the dry season by virtue of their rich resources (raw materials, water, trees, and bushes). The Fatandi V site constitutes the first stratified site of the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary in Senegal with both precise geochronological and palaeoenvironmental data. It complements perfectly the data already obtained in Mali and in the rest of western Africa, and thus constitutes a reference point for this period. In any case, the assemblage of Fatandi V, with its bladelets and segments and in the absence of ceramics and grinding material, fits with a cultural group using exclusively geometric armatures which strongly differs from another group characterized by the production of bifacial armatures, accompanied in its initial phase by ceramics (or stoneware) and grinding material.

Keywords
  • Pleistocene/Holocene boundary
  • Late Stone Age
  • West Africa
  • Bladelet production
  • 50 segment
  • OSL
  • Phytolith
Citation (ISO format)
CHEVRIER, Benoît et al. New data on settlement and environment at the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary in Sudano-Sahelian West Africa: Interdisciplinary investigation at Fatandi V, Eastern Senegal. In: PLOS ONE, 2020, vol. 15, n° 12, p. e0243129. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0243129
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ISSN of the journal1932-6203
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