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Temporal and Spatial Variability in Pre-Aksumite Lithics from Mezber, NE. Ethiopia: Social and Economic Implications

Author(s): Steven Brandt ; Lucas Martindale Johnson ; Abebe Taffere

Year: 2017

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With over 33,000 total excavated flaked stone artifacts and >18,000 analyzed from deposits in primary context, Mezber offers a unique opportunity to understand the role of lithics in Pre-Askumite societies. Using multiple raw materials and reduction sequences, knappers produced a wide array of LSA/Neolithic tools for domestic use, and a narrower range for specialized activities. Locally available chert was the most common raw material, although pXRF results indicate ≥3 as yet unknown distant sources for obsidian, the second most frequent toolstone. Significant temporal and spatial variability in lithic type and frequency over ~1400 years of continuous Pre-Aksumite occupation at Mezber, suggests important changes in community practices that incorporated lithics. Sparse during the Initial Phase, lithics become more frequent and typologically diverse in the Early Phase, reflecting their importance in domestic activities. Lithics experience a dramatic increase in frequency during the Middle Phase. Some fields are dominated overwhelmingly by only one artifact type (scrapers), suggesting more intensive craft specialization. Lithic frequencies decline markedly during the Late Phase, and especially at those locations with previous high scraper frequencies. We conclude by discussing the economic and social roles that lithics played in early state formation in the northern Horn of Africa.

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Temporal and Spatial Variability in Pre-Aksumite Lithics from Mezber, NE. Ethiopia: Social and Economic Implications. Steven Brandt, Lucas Martindale Johnson, Abebe Taffere. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430984)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15954

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America