Evidence of Homo erectus subsistence activities from the Acheulean site of Tighennif (Algeria).

Razika Chelli-Cheheb1,2, Isabel Cáceres3, Mohamed Sahnouni4,1,5, Salah Abdessadok6, 1, Zoheir Harichane1,7, Jan Van der Made8

  1. Centre National de Recherches Préhistoriques, Anthropologiques et Historiques (CNRPAH), Algiers, Algeria;mailto:chlrzk@unife.it
  2. Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, UniversitàDegli Studi di Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy;
  3. Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolucio Social (IPHES), & Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain;
  4. Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), Burgos, Spain;
  5. Stone Age Institute & Anthropology Department, Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana, USA;
  6. Département Homme et Environnement, Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France ;
  7. Musée National du Bardo, Algiers, Algeria ;
  8. Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales & Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain;

Abstract

The Tighennif site (formerly Ternifine) is located east of the city of Mascara in north-western Algeria. Earlier excavations at this site yielded a typical Acheulean industry associated with rich large and small mammalian faunas, as well as Homo erectus fossils, which arecurrentlythe oldest in North Africa. However, previous investigations were primarily paleontological, and therefore, several questions on H. erectusbehavior remained unresolved. Since 2013, multidisciplinary investigations have beencarried out at Tighennif, which involved excavating and assessing of the archaeological remains for site formation processes; firmly dating the site; reconstructing H. erectus paleoecology, subsistence patterns, and technological behavior.The new excavations yielded rich faunal assemblages associated with Acheulean stone tools. Here, we present the first results of the taphonomic analyses of the faunal assemblages from Locality A and D within the site, underliningthe primary subsistence patterns of early Acheulean occupations in North Africa. The fossil assemblages comprise primarily Equidae, Bovidae (with several subfamilies represented), Elephantidae, Rhinocerotidae, Hippopotamidae, Suidae, Camelidae and Giraffidae. The carnivores include Felidae (Panthera leo) and Canidae (Lupulella), and primates are represented by Theropithecus oswaldi. Post depositional modifications (e.g., oxide stains, water activity, weathering, and root-etching) are abundant but similar in both assemblages, allowing us to recover well-preserved animal fossilsadapted toopen environments. It was inthis ecological contextthat hominins and carnivoresconducted activities related toanimal consumption. Anthropic bone breakage patterns and cut marked bones indicate hominin exploitation of meat and marrow from animal car¬casses. The carnivore activities are poor and identified only by the presence of tooth marks. Based on our study of the Tighennif faunal assemblages, preliminary data suggestthat from~1,0 Ma onwards, hominins had the necessary skills to successfully exploit animal resources, with early access to ungulates of different sizes.


Subject Communication
Language of text English
Topics AFR.001: Recent Advances in Early Stone Age Studies in Africa, New Insights on the Oldowan and the Acheulian Stone Technology
Keywords Subsistence activities; Tighennif; Lower-Middle Pleistocene; Acheulean; Homo erectus; North Africa;
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