The University of Arizona

Direct 14C Dating of Early and Mid-Holocene Saharan Pottery

Lamia Messili, Jean-François Saliège, Jean Broutin, Erwan Messager, Christine Hatté, Antoine Zazzo


The aim of this study is to directly radiocarbon date pottery from prehistoric rock-art shelters in the Tassili n’Ajjer (central Sahara). We used a combined geochemical and microscopic approach to determine plant material in the pottery prior to direct 14C dating. The ages obtained range from 5270 ± 35 BP (6276–5948 cal BP) to 8160 ± 45 BP (9190–9015 cal BP), and correlate with the chronology derived from pottery typology. Our results document the transition from pre-Pastoral to Pastoral contexts, dated to the early-mid Holocene transition, and confirm that vegetal temper in pottery can provide reliable 14C ages within Saharan contexts.

DOI: 10.2458/azu_js_rc.55.16364


Pottery, 14C dating, 13 C, plant contents/temper, early-mid Holocene, Central Sahara

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