African Acheulean: a view from North-West

Gallotti R.1, Mohib A.2, Raynal J.-P.3, 4

  1. Université Bordeaux, CNRS, MCC, UMR 5199, De la Préhistoire à l’Actuel : Culture, Environnement, Anthropologie, Talence, France,
  2. Direction provinciale de la Culture, Kénitra, Maroc,
  3. Université Bordeaux, CNRS, MCC, UMR 5199, De la Préhistoire à l’Actuel : Culture, Environnement, Anthropologie, Talence, France,
  4. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Department of Human Evolution, Leipzig, Germany,


The Early/early Middle Pleistocene North African archaeological record is scanty and most of the evidence lacks reliable stratigraphic context, and remains debated. Consequently, the timing and mode(s) of the first human settlement(s) in the Early Pleistocene and its subsequent development in the Middle Pleistocene are poorly understood in this part of Africa and many aspects related to the « Out of Africa » and « Into Europe » models remain open questions.
Currently, the Casablanca Quaternary sequence of raised beaches and associated continental deposits is the most complete stratified succession preserved in North-West Africa. The earliest human artefacts come from the upper part of the Early Pleistocene units at Thomas I-L1 (ThI-L1; ~1.2 Ma), which yielded one of the richest African Acheulean assemblages and the only Acheulean series recorded in an indisputable stratigraphic context in North Africa. This communication focuses on the techno-economic activities performed at ThI-L1, shedding new light on the cultural and behavioural traits of the North-West African early Acheulean. The assemblage consist of 1) large cutting tools including bifacially and trifacially flaked pieces, both on cobbles and flakes of quartzite and which are characterized by a wide typological variation and an intra-shape standardization using shaping processes; 2) various flaking modalities used to produce small flakes from cores on quartzite cobbles, and 3) bipolar reduction of flint pebble cores to produce small flakes. Techno-economic data are compared with those of the East African Early/early Middle Pleistocene Acheuleans, recorded in well-dated contexts, adding a critical contribution to the ongoing discussion about the Acheulean diffusion/convergence phenomena. Results show that the First Acheulean in Casablanca has a technical and economic structure that is separate and distinct from the preceding regional Oldowan culture known from Algeria, and that it shares several technological traits and cognitive acquisitions with the East African middle Acheulean.

Type Communication
Langue du texte intégral English
Thématiques REG.002: Arrivée, transformations et disparition de l’Acheuléen en Afrique du nord
Mots-Clés Acheulean; Early Pleistocene; North/East Africa; Atlantic Morocco; Techno-economic behaviors;
PDF version PDF version