Neolithic Arrowhead

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Frequently Asked Questions...

What are some artifacts from Mauritania?

Best Answer...


In Mauritania in the far west, ancient copper artifacts began to be noticed in that region in the early twentieth century. By 1951 enough had been found for Mauny to wonder whether Mauritania had experienced a Copper Age. An answer came in 1968, when French archeologist Nicole Lambert began excavating what was known as the Grotte aux Chauves-souris (Bat Cave) on a hill called the Guelb Moghrein near Akjoujt in western Mauritania. It was not a cave at all, but an ancient mining gallery dug by humans following a rich vein of malachite ore. The ore was not only extracted, but locally smelted, as furnace remains and slag attest. Four other ancient exploitation sites were found later on the Guelb Moghrein. Radiocarbon datings, eventually calibrated, are nearly all in the range 800 to 200 cal BCE. Subsequently at least three other metallurgical centers from the same period were discovered in the Akjoujt region.

The number of ancient copper objects found in the western Sahara and attributed to the Akjoujt industry exceeded 160 at last count. The great majority are weapons: arrowheads, lance points, and daggers. Tools include hatchets, pins, awls, burins, and hooks. There are the inevitable personal ornaments—rings, earrings, pendants—and some ingots. All the items are very small and very light; when the number reached about 140, the total weight barely topped two kilograms. They were produced in a Neolithic context in which stone tools vastly outnumbered the metal ones, so one can hardly speak of a Copper Age on the basis of present evidence.

How did copper mining and working get started at Akjoujt? It is possible the industry was indigenous, but no one yet seems to have made a real case for that. Lambert saw a resemblance between the Akjoujt products and those of the El Argar culture in southeastern Spain, where copper was being manufactured by at least 1700 BCE and bronze some 200 years later. She thought the few ancient brass and bronze artifacts also found in Mauritania might have been imported from the western Maghreb. She noted that chariot engravings had been found on rocks in three places near Akjoujt and thought they might be "road signs" indicating an early traffic between Morocco and Mauritania.

There are a lot of websites selling artifacts from Mauritania, usually arrowheads. An example:
5000 - 10,000 years ago, in the Neolithic period, the Saharan desert was a green grassland that was teeming with life. Roaming these grasslands were ancestors of man, armed with various primitive weapons - flint axes and bow/arrow. These arrowheads were carved out of native available rock - typically chert, but sometimes agate or whatever was handy. Considering their age, these arrowheads are in excellent condition. At one time, these artifacts were more common, but the supply has dried up and relatively-few of these arrowheads are making it to the market now.

Dhar Néma is the easternmost of a chain of escarpments in the southeastern corner of Mauritania and features these sites:
Bou Khzama I--Lithics present include handaxes, smaller bifaces and flakes from prepared cores.
Bou Khzama III--Materials present
include two grinding basins, grooved stones (polishers), stone hachettes, two intact
pots, and fragments of iron objects.
Ejiélé II-- numerous grinding stones, grinding basins and sherds
Saılé IIa--Pottery of Pre-Tichitt and Tichitt characteristics, polished stone gouges and bracelets (of schist and phthanite), chipped stone bladelet cores, bladelets, burins on blades, leaf-shaped and hollow-based triangular bifacial points, segments, small scrapers (made in chert). Grinding stones
Saılé V--Associated ceramics either small, undecorated simple-
rimmed bowls or large collared jars decorated with channels, punctuate and red slip.