Pratiques funéraires complexes : réévaluation archéo-anthropologique des contextes ibéromaurusiens et capsiens (paléolithique supérieur et épipaléolithique, Afrique du Nord-Ouest)

Abstract : The iberomaurusien (23,000 - 9500 cal BC) and the Capsian (9600-5000 cal BC) are two cultures dating from the end of the upper Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic in North Africa. They have been established on the basis of the characterisitics of their lithic industries. The Iberomaurusien is characterized by a lamellar microblade industry and Capsian by a microblade industry rich in tiny segments and microburins microbladelets. Biological discontinuity of these two groups has been assumed on the basis of questionable anthropological arguments which have strongly influenced debate on their origins. Thus a Middle-Eastern origin has been proposed for the Capsian. We wanted to test this theory using a study of the mortuary practices in these two groups. By applying the perspective of modern mortuary anthropology, we offer a critical review of the entire available corpus. This includes 60 Iberomaurian graves, containing 126 individuals discovered in 10 sites, 48 Capsian graves containing 55 individuals from 13 sites, and 38 burials from the Columnata site providing 89 individuals. We carefully analyzed the contexts of discovery of these individuals as described in publications and field notes. We have revised the counts, the sex-determination and estimation of the age at death. We also explored the surface of the bones looking for stigmata to validate what a taphonomic analysis of the graves might reveal. We first characterized the burial system of each of these two groups, and then the components of these two systems were compared to find a possible transmission or break in burial custom between the two societies. The funeral practices as we have established them, confirm the specificity of these two groups. Funeral rituals are different and the absence of direct transfer between these two groups of hunter-gatherers is first considered. However, the osteo-archaeological interpretation of the graves revealed the presence of a (conditional) minority funeral custom, which lasted a long time, and required a complex technique, that was almost identical in the two groups. This treatment goes through a stage of dismembering the cadaver (beheading, disarticulation, butchering and evisceration), and the skull after flaying is sometimes plastered. Finally, thus partitioned, the body is buried assembled in dislocated anatomical blocks. This treatment, by the levels of knowledge that it requires, and the complexity of its design, suggests a direct link between the two traditions. This endurance of Iberomaurusian cultural heritage in the Capsian leads us to confirm the hypothesis of an ancestor-descendant relationship and a local origin of the Capsian culture.
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Louiza Aoudia-Chouakri. Pratiques funéraires complexes : réévaluation archéo-anthropologique des contextes ibéromaurusiens et capsiens (paléolithique supérieur et épipaléolithique, Afrique du Nord-Ouest). Sciences agricoles. Université Sciences et Technologies - Bordeaux I, 2013. Français. ⟨NNT : 2013BOR14756⟩. ⟨tel-01059817⟩

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