Capsian culture

The Capsian culture (named after the town of Gafsa in Tunisia) was a Mesolithic culture of the Maghreb, which lasted from about 10,000 to 6,000 BCE. It was concentrated mainly in modern Algeria, and Tunisia, with some sites attested in Cyrenaica (Ancient Libya). It is traditionally divided into two variants, the Capsien typique (Typical Capsian)and the Capsien supérieur (Upper Capsian) which are sometimes found in chronostratigraphic sequence. They represent variants of one tradition, the differences between them being both typological and technological.2005 D. Lubell. Continuité et changement dans l'Epipaléolithique du Maghreb. In, M. Sahnouni (ed.) "Le Paléolithique en Afrique: l’histoire la plus longue", pp. 205-226. Paris: Guides de la Préhistoire Mondiale, Éditions Artcom’/Errance. ] 2004 N. Rahmani. [http://www.springerlink.com/index/W86H06473G555510.pdf Technological and cultural change among the last Hunter-Gatherers of the Maghreb: the Capsian (10,000 B.P. to 6000 B.P.)] . "Journal of World Prehistory" 18(1): 57-105.]

During this period, the environment of the Maghreb was open savanna, much like modern East Africa, with Mediterranean forests at higher altitudes.1984 D. Lubell. [http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~dlubell/Lubell_1984.pdf Paleoenvironments and Epi Paleolithic economies in the Maghreb (ca. 20,000 to 5000 B.P.)] . In, J.D. Clark & S.A. Brandt (eds.), "From Hunters to Farmers: The Causes and Consequences of Food Production in Africa". Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 41-56.] The Capsian diet included a wide variety of animals, ranging from aurochs and hartebeest to hares and snails; there is little evidence concerning plants eaten.1984 D. Lubell, P. Sheppard & M. Jackes. [http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~dlubell/Advances.pdf Continuity in the Epipalaeolithic of northern Africa with an emphasis on the Maghreb] . In, F. Wendorf & A. Close (eds.), "Advances in World Archaeology, Vol. 3": 143-191. New York: Academic Press.] 2004 D. Lubell. [http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~dlubell/Antibes.pdf Prehistoric edible land snails in the circum-Mediterranean: the archaeological evidence] . In, J-J. Brugal & J. Desse (eds.), "Petits Animaux et Sociétés Humaines. Du Complément Alimentaire Aux Ressources Utilitaires". XXIVe rencontres internationales d’archéologie et d’histoire d’Antibes, pp. 77-98. Antibes: Éditions APDCA.] . During the succeeding Neolithic of Capsian Tradition, there is evidence from one site, for domesticated, probably imported, ovicaprids.1979 C. Roubet. "Économie Pastorale Préagricole en Algérie Orientale: le Néolithique de Tradition Capsienne". Paris: CNRS.]

Anatomically, Capsian populations were modern Homo sapiens, traditionally classed into two "racial" types: Mechta-Afalou and Proto-mediterranean on the basis of cranial morphology. Some have argued that they were immigrants from the east,1985 D. Ferembach. On the origin of the Iberomaurusians (Upper Paleolithic, North Africa): a new hypothesis. "Journal of Human Evolution" 14: 393-397.] whereas othersargue for population continuity based on physical skeletal characteristics and other criteria, 1991 P. Sheppard & D. Lubell. [http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~dlubell/Sahara_Sheppard & Lubell.pdf Early Holocene Maghreb prehistory: an evolutionary approach] . "Sahara" 3: 63-9] "et cetera". 1991 P. Sheppard & D. Lubell. [http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~dlubell/Sahara_Sheppard & Lubell.pdf Early Holocene Maghreb prehistory: an evolutionary approach] . "Sahara" 3: 63-9] 2001 D. Lubell. [http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~dlubell/Ency_Maghreb.pdf Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene Maghreb] . In, P.N. Peregrine & M. Ember (eds.) "Encyclopedia of Prehistory, Volume 1: Africa". New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, pp. 129-149.]

Nothing is known about Capsian religion, but their burial methods suggest a belief in an afterlife. Decorative art is widely found at their sites, including figurative and abstract rock art, and ocher is found coloring both tools and corpses. Ostrich eggshells were used to make beads and containers; seashells were used for necklaces. The Ibero-Maurusian practice of evulsion of the central incisors continued sporadically, but became rarer.

The Capsian culture is identified by some historical linguists as a possible ancestor of the speakers of modern Afroasiatic languages of Africa and the Middle East and of the Berber languages in North Africa.

The Eburran industry which dates between 13,000 and 9,000 BCE in East Africa, was formerly known as the "Kenya Capsian" due to similarities in the stone blade shapes. There is no proven relationship with the Capsian.

Bibliography and references

ee also

* Prehistory of Central North Africa
* Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures

External links

* [http://worldmuseumofman.org/capsianartifacts1.htm Capsian African Neolithic Tools, Weapons and Artifacts]
* [http://www.beloit.edu/~museum/logan/paleoexhibit/capsian.htm Capsian North Africa]
* [http://anthropology.uwaterloo.ca/lubell.html Prof. David Lubell' home page] at University of Waterloo
* [http://ianthro.unige.ch/cours/prehistoire-generale/doc/corboud/MODULE-7/Illustrations/Fig-19-19.html L'Université de Genève - drawing of mircoliths from upper Capsian]


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  • Capsian — [kap′sē ən] adj. [Fr capsien, after L Capsa, ancient name of Gafsa, city in central Tunisia, near which artifacts were found] designating or of a Mesolithic culture of N Africa characterized by small hand tools …   English World dictionary

  • Capsian — /kap see euhn/, adj. Archaeol. of or designating an Epipaleolithic culture of northwestern Africa, characterized by the use of geometric microlithic tools. [1910 15; < F capsien, equiv. to Caps(a), L name of Gafsa, town in Tunisia near which… …   Universalium

  • Capsian — [ kapsɪən] adjective Archaeology relating to or denoting a Palaeolithic culture of North Africa and southern Europe, dated to c.8000–4500 BC. Origin early 20th cent.: from L. Capsa (now Gafsa in Tunisia), where objects from this culture were… …   English new terms dictionary

  • capsian — adj. & n. adj. of or relating to a palaeolithic culture of N. Africa and S. Europe. n. this culture. Etymology: L Capsa = Gafsa in Tunisia …   Useful english dictionary

  • Capsian — adjective Etymology: French capsien, from Latin Capsa Gafsa, Tunisia Date: 1915 of or relating to a Paleolithic culture of northern Africa and southern Europe …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Capsian — adjective of or pertaining to a Paleolithic culture of North Africa (named after primary findings there, in the now southern Tunisian oasis Gafsa) and southern Europe …   Wiktionary

  • Capsian —    This term refers to the ancient people who occupied North Africa as early 6,000 B.C. They are said to be Berbers who had adopted a Neolithic way of life and culture …   Historical dictionary of the berbers (Imazighen)

  • Capsian — /ˈkæpsiən/ (say kapseeuhn) noun a culture dating from about 10 000 to 7000 years ago which used implements such as backed blades, microliths and bone awls; found mainly in Tunisia …   Australian English dictionary

  • Iberomaurusian —   Capsian culture …   Wikipedia

  • History of early Tunisia — History of Tunisia ANCIENT HISTORY OF TUNISIA …   Wikipedia

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