LABORATORIO DI ECOLOGIA DEL QUATERNARIO

40 YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCHES IN WADI RAMM

 
 

The researches on the Early and Middle Palaeolithic were conducted mostly in the northern sector of the area: on the plateau there are a sequence of  alluvial terraces dating back to the late Tertiary and the early Quaternary periods. A detailed geologic bearing pointed out the presence of four orders of terraces on the alluvions of the Wadi El Harad: the lithic assemblages present were gathered and studied. The presence of the Early Acheulean perhaps under some aspects a little more recent than Ubeidiya has been evidenced. Two phases of the Middle Acheulean have been found (early and more recent) with different technological and typological characteristics. The erratic tools of these facies are frequent on the surfaces of the Djabals.

More rare was the Upper Acheulean of which as yet were found only the erratic tools.

All lithic assemblages, excepting a few in flint stone, were made out of a hard sandstone belonging to the Secondary geologic period formations.

More problematic has appeared the Middle Palaeolithic of which on the plateau only few implements medium sized in flint stone have been found. No actual sites were found but only implements, sometime too several, scattered on the vast surfaces. At Wadi Ramm on a hillside in  the southern wadi (Le’Reibe) a lithic assemblage in palaeo-volcanic stones has been found: this consists of a flakes clactonian’s technique and biface-tools moderate sized. Dating them has added importance to the detachment technique, but under many aspects some doubts remain.

Regarding the assemblages of Early ad Middle Palaeolithic, up to now 25 sites have been found in all.


More plentiful in findings are the discoveries regarding Upper Palaeolithic’s settlements. Because of the sands deposition about 19.000-17.000 years ago only a facies of the Kebarian culture, both early and recent, are present with a high frequency of the “classical” Kebarian. To these cultures are ascribed some rock engravings (Wadi el Khushkhaashei, Diabal el Gattaar, Wadi Afeer, Djabal el Marsad) and paintings (Djabal Arga). Completely absent is the ancient phase of the Upper Palaeolithic: no evidences were found at all.

There is a considerable presence of Natufian settlements with lithic assemblages, normally ancient.

Unfortunately all these lithic complexes result mixed more than once in the same rock-shelter: for this reason only the homogeneous assemblages have been considered.

About 50 settlements were found of these hunter-gatherers late cultures.


Of the Neolithic PPNA only the erratic arrow-heads were found (El Kiam points): no settlement resulted reliable. More present on the contrary is the Neolithic PPNB: 22 settlements were found, sometimes real villages and sites in which the amazonite working was performed to obtain  necklace beads. The presence of this culture of the first farmers is most of all in northern area: very interesting lithic assemblages were made jointly with querns and pestles. Very rarely the hunting sites are present in the southern area.


Certainly the most widespread presence is of Calcolithic people with an agricultural and a cattle  farming economy. These people invaded the area in a short time between 7.000 and 6.500 years ago, coming from far eastern and southern regions. Their culture is represented by lithic assemblages very different from the Neolithic ones, from a scanty and with plain style pottery. Different are also the settlements consisting in huts, more or less numerous with round plan, sometimes single or often many huts forming villages. At present about 1440 settlements have been found, some remained unchanged. Moreover, in Wadi Ramm and at the eastern foot of the Djabal el Jill, are present some buildings with quadrangular plan normally paved with flat stones: a cippus is embedded in the centre. The burial mound is made with big stones. Ateliers for the working of cornelian to realize beads are not rare. Very interesting is the religious aspect of this culture, testified by an anthropomorphic idol rock engraving and by a stone statuary. Many rock engravings are present with the oxen always depicted in symbolic style: the forelegs and hind legs are represented with two wide lobes.

Undoubtedly the most important production of these peoples are the rock paintings (in red ochre or in black and white pigments):  in about 353 places, made with pure ideographic or symbolic style.

In the same times in which these peoples lived and worked in this region, the Bedouins moved into the area, people with pastoral economy, mostly camel shepherds, who controlled the whole territory and charged the farmers with payments in kind to prevent raids (ghazu): a practice which could be testified by some stone engraving maps of the area in which the farming settlements are marked. The most important  map has been found in a cave of Hlal Amud near Aed Deesei.

The contact in this area between these peoples with such different cultures seem to promote a strong cultural dynamism which, for the necessity to communicate information in short time could give origin to the alphabetical writings directly from the rock ideograms (with which they have many technical details and links). These ideograms gravitate almost certainly around the religious-propitiatory or cosmogonic field and have been realized in two different typologies: one connected to the sedentary culture and the other one to the pastoral people, both with some identical meaning. In these times, between 6.800 and 6.500 years ago, seems to have been organized the Thamudic writing which could spread rapidly in the northern and southern desert of the regions of Near East (Syria, Iraq and Arabia peninsula) preceding the Sumerian and the Egyptian writings of these Empires. The Thamudic writings show to originate just in this area and to be the mother of all palaeo-semitic writings.

Besides 23 Nabatean presences were registered in this area  today almost all destroyed. Only a few  rocky inscriptions are present undamaged.

 

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40 YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCHES IN WADI RAMM