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The origins of agriculture in North-West Africa: macro-botanical remains from Epipalaeolithic and Early Neolithic levels of Ifri Oudadane (Morocco)

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Abstract This research aims to shed light on the early stages of agricultural development in Northern Africa through the analysis of the rich macro-botanical assemblages obtained from Ifri Oudadane, an Epipalaeolithic-Early Neolithic site from
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  Accepted Manuscript The srcins of agriculture in North-West Africa: macro-botanical remains fromEpipalaeolithic and Early Neolithic levels of Ifri Oudadane (Morocco)Morales Jacob, Pérez-Jordà Guillem, Peña-Chocarro Leonor, Zapata Lydia, Ruíz-Alonso Mónica, López-Sáez Jose Antonio, Linstädter JörgPII:S0305-4403(13)00040-XDOI:10.1016/j.jas.2013.01.026Reference:YJASC 3581To appear in: Journal of Archaeological Science  Received Date:26 September 2012Revised Date:21 January 2013Accepted Date:24 January 2013Please cite this article as: Jacob, M., Guillem, P.-J., Leonor, P.-C., Lydia, Z., Mónica, R.-A., JoseAntonio, L.-S., Jörg, L., The srcins of agriculture in North-West Africa: macro-botanical remains fromEpipalaeolithic and Early Neolithic levels of Ifri Oudadane (Morocco), Journal of Archaeological Science  (2013), doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.01.026.This is a PDF file of an unedited manuscript that has been accepted for publication. As a service toour customers we are providing this early version of the manuscript. The manuscript will undergocopyediting, typesetting, and review of the resulting proof before it is published in its final form. Pleasenote that during the production process errors may be discovered which could affect the content, and alllegal disclaimers that apply to the journal pertain.      M   A    N    U   S   C    R     I    P    A   C   C    E    P    T    E    D ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPT Highlights 1.   We studied seed remains from the Epipalaeolithic-Neolithic site of Ifri Oudadane, Morocco. 2.   Lentil, wheat, barley and pea are identified in Early Neolithic levels. 3.   A lentil is dated to c . 7600 BP, the earliest date for a crop in northern Africa. 4.   Wild plants are abundant in both the Epipalaeolithic and the Neolithic levels. 5.   Wild plants were probably used as food, for fodder and for basketry. *Highlights (for review)      M   A    N    U   S   C    R     I    P    A   C   C    E    P    T    E    D ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPT 1 Title The srcins of agriculture in North-West Africa: macro-botanical remains from Epipalaeolithic and Early Neolithic levels of Ifri Oudadane (Morocco) Authors   Morales, Jacob  1,2  jacobmoralesmateos@gmail.com Pérez-Jordà, Guillem 1  guillem.perez@uv.es Peña-Chocarro, Leonor 1, 3 leonor.chocarro@csic.it Zapata, Lydia 4  lydia.zapata@ehu.es Ruíz-Alonso, Mónica 1  moruizalonso@hotmail.com López-Sáez, Jose Antonio 1  joseantonio.lopez@cchs.csic.es Linstädter, Jörg 5  joerg.linstaedter@uni-koeln.de 1 GI Arqueobiología. Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales (CSIC). Albasanz 26-28. 28037 Madrid. Spain 2 McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3ER, United Kingdom 3 Escuela Española de Historia y Arqueología en Roma (CSIC). Via di Torre Argentina 18. 00186 Roma. Italy   4 Depto. Geografía, Historia y Arqueología. University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). F. Tomás y Valiente s/n. 01006 Vitoria-Gasteiz. Spain 5   Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Cologne, Institute for Prehistoric Archaeology, Weyertal 125, 50923 Cologne, Germany   Keywords : Origin of agriculture, wild plant gathering, basketry, archaeobotany, Morocco, Epipalaeolithic, Early Neolithic. Abstract This research aims to shed light on the early stages of agricultural development in Northern Africa through the analysis of the rich macro-botanical assemblages obtained from Ifri Oudadane, an Epipalaeolithic-Early Neolithic site from North-East Morocco. Results indicate the presence of domesticated plants, cereals (  Hordeum vulgare , Triticum monococcum  /  dicoccum , Triticum durum  and Triticum   aestivum  /  durum ) and pulses (  Lens culinaris  and Pisum sativum ) in the Early Neolithic. One lentil has been *ManuscriptClick here to view linked References      M   A    N    U   S   C    R     I    P    A   C   C    E    P    T    E    D ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPT 2 dated to 7611 ± 37 cal BP representing the oldest direct date of a domesticated plant seed in Morocco and, by extension, in North Africa. Similarities in both radiocarbon dates and crop assemblages from Early Neolithic sites in Northern Morocco and the Iberian Peninsula suggest a simultaneous East to West maritime spread of agriculture along the shores of the Western Mediterranean. Wild plants were abundantly collected in both the Epipalaeolithic and the Early Neolithic periods pointing to the important role of these resources during the two periods. In addition to fruits and seeds that could have been consumed by both humans and domesticated animals, fragments of esparto grass (Stipa tenacissima ) rhizomes have been identified. This is a western Mediterranean native plant that may have been used as a source of fibers for basketry. 1 Introduction The srcin and spread of agriculture and the transition from hunter-gatherer economies to farming have been crucially important archaeological research topics in recent years. A relatively comprehensive understanding has been achieved for several regions of the world, such as the Near East and Europe (Zohary et al., 2012); however, research in certain key regions is vastly underexplored. One of these is North Africa, a potentially critical zone with implications for surrounding areas including the Mediterranean, Europe and the Sahara. Most of the available literature on the topic suggests that agriculture was introduced into North Africa during the Neolithic by Near Eastern and Mediterranean farmers. However, archaeobotanical data about this process is still very limited. Along the entire southern Mediterranean shore, from Libya to Morocco, only one site (Kaf Taht el-Ghar) has provided domesticated plant remains. Located on the northern coast of Morocco, Kaf Taht el-Ghar was occupied from the Epipalaeolithic to the Bronze Age (Ballouche and Marinval, 2003). The crop assemblage includes einkorn ( Triticum monococcum ), emmer ( Triticum dicoccum ), naked wheat ( Triticum aestivum/durum ), naked barley (  Hordeum vulgare  var. nudum ) and broad bean ( Vicia faba ). A grain of the latter was dated to 7286 ± 85 cal BP [Ly-971 OXA]. Since data from plant macro-remains is absent for the whole region, it has been assumed that agriculture in North Africa was poorly developed during the Neolithic. In fact, nomadic pastoralism was supposed to dominate the economy at the time (Barker, 2002, 2006; Garcea, 2004; Marshall and Hildebrand, 2002; Roubet, 1979).      M   A    N    U   S   C    R     I    P    A   C   C    E    P    T    E    D ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPT 3 A significant proportion of Neolithic sites in North Africa were excavated during the first part of the 20 th  century and with few accurately dated. Less than half a dozen have yielded clear evidence for farming in the form of reliably identified bones of domesticated animals or seeds and other residues of domesticated plants (Barker, 2002). As a result, throughout the critical millennia of the assumed transition from foraging to farming, the subsistence activities of North African Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic groups have been indirectly inferred from the presence of pottery and stone tools. In this paper, we focus on a single site, Ifri Oudadane (Morocco) whilst simultaneously incorporating current archaeobotanical data from North Africa (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco). This is a vast territory where several geographical regions have been suggested as likely foci from which agriculture was introduced into nearby areas. In Libya, agriculture was presumably introduced from Egypt and the Nile Valley (Garcea, 2004; Pelling, 2008); but in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco several hypotheses have been put forward. Most of the studies agree with an East to West Neolithic spread consistent with a model involving maritime pioneers (Linstädter, 2008; Linstädter et al., 2012; Oliveira et al., 2011; Zilh ȃ o, 2001). The arrival of farming to the southern shore of the Mediterranean evidences a degree of delay when compared with the European side (Davison et al., 2006; Zeder, 2008). Unfortuntely, this issue may well be a consequence of an inadequate archaeological record for this specific region. Additionally, the adoption of Neolithic innovations by local hunter-gatherer groups, the potential domestication of cattle in North Africa and the presence of pottery in Epipalaeolithic sites of the Sahara add complexity to the discussion (Garcea, 2004; Linstädter, 2008). Furthermore, Camps (1974) suggested that the transmission of some Neolithic traits arrived from Italy and Sicily to Tunisia and from there to the rest of North Africa. In the case of Morocco, three main hypotheses have been proposed regarding the beginning of the Neolithic. The first states that agriculture together with the whole Neolithic package arrived initially to the Iberian Peninsula, and from there it moved south through the Gibraltar Strait (Zilh ȃ o, in press). The second advocates the transfer of some traits related to pottery, flints and bone tools from North Africa to the Iberian Peninsula (Cortés-Sánchez et al., 2012; Manen et al., 2007; Marchand and Manen, 2010). The third suggests that the Neolithic package was spread by seafarers who synchronously arrived to both the northern and southern Mediterranean shores (Gilman, 1974; Linstädter et al., 2012).
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