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Combined US-ESR dating of fossil teeth from El Harhoura 2 cave (Morocco): New data about the end of the MSA in Temara region

Ben Arous, Eslem, Falgueres, Christophe, Tombret, Olivier, El Hajraoui, Mohamed Abdeljalil, Nespoulet, Roland
Quaternary international 2019
Pleistocene epoch, fauna, fossils, humans, paleoecology, teeth, Morocco
The study of the Middle Stone Age (MSA) in North Africa is essential to better understand the human dispersals during the Late Pleistocene. The timing of the transition from the MSA to the Later Stone Age (LSA) in the region is still debated due to the scarcity of sites and the limited chronological constraints available. Among the few existing MIS 5 to MIS 1 archaeological sites in Northwestern Africa, El Harhoura 2 cave (Morocco) has been extensively excavated during the last decade. It has provided MSA and LSA sequences from which human remains have been systematically discovered in association with faunal and lithic assemblages.The combined US-ESR method has been applied to date five teeth from layer 3 and 4A, which correspond to the most recent MSA occupations at El Harhoura 2 cave. The results suggest the disappearance of the MSA at this site to have occurred around ∼40 ka, at the end of MIS 3, which is consistent with the palaeoenvironmental interpretation derived from the faunal remains. These new results suggest that the last MSA human occupation are ∼15 ka more recent than previously showed by OSL dating. Further investigation is required to fully understand the reason of such discrepancy between the two methods.