Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Paper on Middle-Atlas Bell Beaker

Here's a new paper on bell beaker material from the Middle Atlas.

Pastoralists frequenting these rock shelters left pottery that was locally made, and well made.  These areas are also more inland and continue to push the envelope on Morocco being just a marginal area.

Le site d'ifri Ouzabour

You'll notice from d'ifri Ouzabour that the geology is heavy with iron oxide.  Although it is not as red as the Anti-Atlas and the Sahel, you see essentially where bell beaker pottery gets its characteristic and highly conforming color.  You can check out one of my previous posts where Maju embarrassingly corrects me on the designation of Entisols from the geological survey I posted.  (you'll get the point though)

*An interesting footnote about the Middle and Anti-Atlas: it's here that you find the highest incidence of Rh- blood in world, at least among some Berber tribes.  The Basques and Irish are formally the highest, or should I say 'formerly'.  Keep that cline-in-your-mind when you consider that it is a heritable trait.

Between the U.S. Geological Survey of Africa and a map of the Neolithic subpluvial of North Africa you'll get a good idea of where pastoral populations were living in the Neolithic.  To a great extent, the donor populations still do, although heavily mixed.

The geology of Europe has very few options for 'correctly' coloring bell beaker slips.  In some cases potters resorted to painting the pottery copper red, which is totally cheating.  This can be viewed on the burial page with the Barbing Bogenschutze.

The big paper will be out later this year.  I look forward to seeing it.

**Hat-tip to Davidski for linking this paper on non-metric dental traits between Morocco and Iberia.  [Link]
I have two other non-metric dental studies to add to it and will post abstracts at some point in the coming weeks.

Quelques données sur la découverte de céramiques campaniformes au Maroc.   International Journal of Innovation and Applied Studies.  Fadoua Nekkal and Abdeslam Mikdad, Septmeber 2014  [Link]

ABSTRACT: The aim of this paper is to announce the discovery of new elements of the Bell Beaker pottery in Morocco.  Although the results are limited, disparate and coming from an unreliable stratigraphic cotext, yet all can enrich our knowledge about the spread of Beaker pottery, expand the area of geographic expansion of this complex off the Moroccan coast and affirm that this highly advanced civilization in Central and Western Europe, especially in Andalusia and in southern Spain has also grown in Morocco. The increased presence of this ceramic inland to Central Middle Atlas and the good representativeness of Bell-Beaker culture in Morocco challenges the assumption of simple circulation of this ceramic and resumes debate on the existence of an autochthonous foyer. However, intact archaeological levels and reliable radiocarbon dating are lacking for the most part to be able to resolve the question of Campaniforme in Morocco.


  1. I find particularly intriguing what you say about the high frequencies of Rh⁻ in the Moroccan Middle Atlas (do you have a reference?) I am almost positive that Iberian or in general SW European genetics strongly impacted North Africa at some point in the past (lots of H1, H3, H4 and H7, as well as V), but I tend to imagine that point being the Oranian (or Iberomaurusian) genesis of the LGM, which seems tightly related to Iberian peculiar Gravetto-Solutrean. Said that, secondary interactions are definitely not impossible.

    Funnily enough the other way some guy greeted me and somehow my mind related him to a friend who is pretty much Basque purebred. I greeted him back and asked him if he was by chance a relative of this friend and he shook his head perplex, revealing himself as a worker of the kebab outlet near my home. Only then I realized that he actually looked (ambiguously?) North African even if my mind could not yet completely remove his features from those of my pure-Basque friend. It's just an anecdote but I couldn't but think about the deeper genetic relationships across the Mediterranean.

    1. It is amazing how many of these studies are behind pay-walls. I guess much of research was done before the open access era. Apparently, the nominal 40% /Rh- number in Atlas comes from Cavalli-Sforza, but I haven't been able to find where that was published by him.

      There's a bunch of older studies on various Berber tribes, such as the Ait Haddidu Berbers

      The numbers seem to vary quite a bit depending on political boundaries and who is classified as what.

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