On the industrial attributions of the Aterian and Mousterian of the Maghreb

Harold L. Dibble, Vera Aldeias, Zenobia Jacobs, Deborah I. Olszewski, Zeljko Rezek, Sam C. Lin, Esteban Alvarez-Fernández, Carolyn C. Barshay-Szmidt, Emily Hallett-Desguez, Denné Reed, Kaye Reed, Daniel Richter, Teresa E. Steele, Anne Skinner, Bonnie Blackwell, Ekaterina Doronicheva, Mohamed El-Hajraoui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


North Africa is quickly emerging as one of the more important regions yielding information on the origins of modern Homo sapiens. Associated with significant fossil hominin remains are two stone tool industries, the Aterian and Mousterian, which have been differentiated, respectively, primarily on the basis of the presence and absence of tanged, or stemmed, stone tools. Largely because of historical reasons, these two industries have been attributed to the western Eurasian Middle Paleolithic rather than the African Middle Stone Age. In this paper, drawing on our recent excavation of Contrebandiers Cave and other published data, we show that, aside from the presence or absence of tanged pieces, there are no other distinctions between these two industries in terms of either lithic attributes or chronology. Together, these results demonstrate that these two 'industries' are instead variants of the same entity. Moreover, several additional characteristics of these assemblages, such as distinctive stone implements and the manufacture and use of bone tools and possible shell ornaments, suggest a closer affinity to other Late Pleistocene African Middle Stone Age industries rather than to the Middle Paleolithic of western Eurasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-210
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of human evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Atero-Mousterian
  • Maghrebian Mousterian
  • Middle Paleolithic
  • Middle Stone Age
  • Morocco
  • North Africa
  • Systematics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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