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Modern Human Desert Adaptations: A Libyan Perspective on the Aterian Complex

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The present Libyan territory extends over a large area that goes from the Mediterranean coast to the Saharan Desert. Aterian sites were found in the central Saharan mountain range of the Tadrart Acacus, the eastern Saharan massif of the Jebel Uweinat, the Maghrebi extension of the Jebel Gharbi, as well as the lowlands of Lake Shati in the central part of the country. Recent research in the Tadrart Acacus and the Jebel Gharbi has provided radiometric dates, geoarchaeological stratigraphic sequences, and lithic assemblages that call for a revision of the chronological, environmental, and functional interpretation of the Aterian Industrial Complex. In Libya, two distinct Aterian variants, one to the northwest (Jebel Gharbi), the other to the southwest (Tadrart Acacus and Messak Settafet) of the country, display specific chronological developments and site settings related to different paleoenvironmental conditions that allow one to trace geographic boundaries, with different latitudinal and altitudinal adaptational patterns. Their differences concur to show that Aterian groups developed different skills and tools to adapt to different dry environments that inevitably conditioned their behavior and settlement systems. This paper reviews the recent evidence from the Libyan Aterian sites and those that immediately preceded and followed, discusses both the general perspective and the regional variants within the Aterian, and addresses the question of the spread of anatomically modern humans in North Africa.




Garcea, E. A. A. (2012). Modern Human Desert Adaptations: A Libyan Perspective on the Aterian Complex. In Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology (pp. 127–142). Springer.

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