The Capsian culture is considered to be an important culture during the transitional period in North African prehistory. As it marks the transition from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic period. The culture’s influence can even be seen in the later development of the Berber cultures of North Africa. The culture has also been known as a period. The Capsian period.
Time, site and additional culture information
Period: Neolithic to Bronze Age Dates 8,000 to 2,700 BC, or (10,000 to 4700 years ago);
Major sites: Medjez II, Dakhlat es-Saâdane, Aïn Naga, Khanguet El-Mouhaâd, Aïn Misteheyia, Kef Zoura D, El Mekta;
Preceded by: Iberomaurusian; and,
Followed by: Libyans.
The culture or period was centered in the Maghreb (region of north Africa, aribic: ‘the west’). It lasted from around 8,000 to 2,700 BC (10,000 to 4700 years ago). And, it was named after the town of Gafsa in Tunisia, which was known as Capsa in Roman times. And, the first archaeological finds were made here. Quite some time ago.
Capsian industry was concentrated mainly in modern Tunisia and Algeria, with some lithic sites attested from southern Spain to Sicily. They were primarily hunter gatherers.
During this area and period, the environment of the Maghreb was open savanna. Much like modern East Africa, with Mediterranean forests at higher altitudes. It is where the initial phase, overlaps with the African humid period.
Capsian diet included a wide variety of animals, ranging from aurochs and hartebeest (antelope). Hares even snails. During the neolithic era, there is evidence of a Capsian tradition. They ate ovicaprids (sheep and/or goats). Probably imported and domesticated. And, There is little evidence of plants eaten.
They even used ostrich eggshells for containers. As well as pottery from nearby, and the far east.
Types of people, language and religion
Modern homosapiens. Capsians could be classified into two: proto-mediterranean and Mechta-Afalou. Mostly on the basis of cranial morphology. The natufians could have provided some influences on the culture. Given the Capsian cultures timescale, widespread occurrence in the Sahara, and north west coastal location. Historical linguists have associated the culture with some of the earliest Afroasiatic speaking families on the continent. Not much is known about there religions. It is believed based on burials, and shells, beads, and ivory decorations. They did believe in an afterlife. The Ibero-Maurusian practice of extracting the central incisors continued sporadically, but became rarer.
Decorative art is extendingly found at Capsian sites. There is figurative and abstract rock art; and, ochre is found coloring, as well as on, tools and corpses. Ostrich eggshells were used to make beads; and, seashells on necklaces.
The Eburran industry (east African tool assemblage) which dates between 13,000 and 9,000 BC in East Africa. Was a main form of lithic technology. It was formerly known as the “Kenya Capsian”. Due to similarities in the stone blade shapes.
Capsian culture was a early known phase in North African prehistory. Check it out with some more neolithic architecture today!
1984 D. Lubell. Paleoenvironments and Epi Paleolithic economies in the Maghreb (ca. 20,000to 5000 B.C.) (http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~dlubell/Lubell_1984.pdf). In, J.D. Clark & S.A. Brandt (eds.), From Hunters to Farmers: The Causes and Consequences of Food Production in Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press
Whitehouse, Ruth D. (24 February 2016). Macmillan Dictionary of Archaeology – Google Książki (https://books.google.com/books?id=TDJdDwAAQBAJ&q=typical+capsian+dated&pg=PA86). ISBN 9781349075898.
1984 D. Lubell, P. Sheppard & M. Jackes. Continuity in the Epipalaeolithic of northern Africa with an emphasis on the Maghreb (http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~dlubell/Advances.pdf). In, F. Wendorf & A. Close (eds.), Advances in World Archaeology, Vol. 3: 143–191. New York: Academic Press.
Mulazzani, Simone (2013). Le Capsien de Hergla (Tunisie): culture, environnement et économie (https://books.google.com/books?id=4i61eAzCoJwC) (in French). Africa MagnaVerlag. ISBN 978-3-937248-36-3.