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Reflections on the Other Side. A Southern Iberia Origin for the First Pottery Production of Northern Morocco?


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This work is a starting point for rethinking the role of the Iberian Peninsula in the neolithisation of northern Morocco. It focuses on the similarities and divergences between the first pottery productions and their decorations in both territories. This relationship is supported by the existence of an accurate chronological gradation between the first evidence of Neolithisation in Iberian Peninsula and that of northern Morocco which suggests a north–south direction. We also present arguments on the possible links between the early ceramics from the north of Morocco and those from the south of Iberia, providing a first approach to an issue that will need to be carefully analysed in future research.
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Research Article
Rafael M. Martínez Sánchez*, Juan Carlos Vera Rodríguez, Jesús Gámiz Caro,
Salvador Pardo-Gordó, Guillem Pérez-Jordà, Leonor Peña-Chocarro
Reections on the Other Side. A Southern
Iberia Origin for the First Pottery Production
of Northern Morocco?
received October 31, 2020; accepted June 20, 2021
Abstract: This work is a starting point for rethinking the role of the Iberian Peninsula in the neolithisation of
northern Morocco. It focuses on the similarities and divergences between the rst pottery productions and
their decorations in both territories. This relationship is supported by the existence of an accurate chron-
ological gradation between the rst evidence of Neolithisation in Iberian Peninsula and that of northern
Morocco which suggests a northsouth direction. We also present arguments on the possible links between
the early ceramics from the north of Morocco and those from the south of Iberia, providing a rst approach
to an issue that will need to be carefully analysed in future research.
Keywords: radiocarbon dating, northern Morocco, Early Neolithic, rst pottery productions, southern
Iberia, prehistoric navigation
1 Introduction
Throughout the twentieth century, the history of pottery use has been closely related to the economic changes
triggered by agriculture and animal husbandry throughout the Holocene. However, the relationship between
food production and pottery is now starting to be challenged in both Eurasia and the African continent
(Jordan et al., 2016).Notonlyaretherst phases of the neolithisation of Southwest Asia aceramic (Nieu-
wenhuyse, Akkermans, & Van der Plicht, 2010), but also many cases of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers with a
complete mastery of this technology have been recognised in Northern Europe, the Baltic, and the steppes
* Corresponding author: Rafael M. Martínez Sánchez, Department of History, University of Cordoba (Spain), 14071, Cordoba,
Spain, e-mail:
Juan Carlos Vera Rodríguez: Department of History, Geography and Anthropology, University of Huelva, 21007, Huelva, Spain,
Jesús Gámiz Caro: Department of Prehistory and Anchaeology, University of Granada, 18071, Granada, Spain,
Salvador Pardo-Gordó: Department of Geography and History, University of La Laguna, 38200, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain,
Guillem Pérez-Jordà: Department of Prehistory, Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Valencia, 46010, Valencia,
Spain, e-mail:
Leonor Peña-Chocarro: Department of Archaeology and Social Processes, Institute of History (CSIC), 28037, Madrid, Spain,
Special Issue: THE EARLY NEOLITHIC OF EUROPE, edited by F. Borrell, I. Clemente, M. Cubas, J. J. Ibáñez, N. Mazzucco,
A. Nieto-Espinet, M. Portillo, S. Valenzuela-Lamas, & X. Terradas
Open Archaeology 2021; 7: 10541065
Open Access. © 2021 Rafael M. Martínez Sánchez et al., published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
north of the Caspian (Elliott et al., 2020). In Africa, Epipaleolithic groups in the so-called Green Sahara have
been producing pottery at least since the 10th millennium cal. BC (Dunne et al., 2017; Huysecom et al., 2009).
However, in Mediterranean Africa, this phenomenon has not been observed (Broodbank & Lucarini, 2019).
Looking at the central Euro-Mediterranean area, the rst evidence of pottery is related to the impressed
ware group (Impressa Arcaica)that appeared in Apulia together with the earliest evidence of agriculture
and livestock c. 5900/6000 cal. BC. The origin of this pottery is located on the other side of the Strait of
Otranto as documented in the site of Sidari (Corfu Island, Greece)(Guilaine, 2018). The main characteristics
of this pottery include at-based shapes, decorations using shell impressions (gastropods, but mostly
striated or smooth shells, often forming simple vertical or rocking impressions), and ngerprints among
other techniques (Pessina & Tiné, 2008). In barely a century, impressed wares spread together with food
production throughout the Italian peninsula and Sicily (Natali & Forgia, 2018; Radi & Petrinelli Pannochia,
2018). Around 58505700 cal. BC, the complex of Ligurian Impressa pottery developed in the south of
France and the Ligurian coast. Between 5700 and 5500 cal. BC, a hiatus without any occupation, a gap
not yet explained, is detected in the region which was later followed by the so-called Cardial Horizon
(Manen et al., 2019). At about the same time, as the rst ceramics with similar features to those of central
Italy (Lugliè, 2018)arrived to the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, c. 5650/5600 cal. BC, the new technology
made its appearance in the Iberian Peninsula (Bernabeu Aubán, García Puchol, & Orozco Köhler, 2018).
Until very recently, discussion on the emergence of the rst pottery in Iberia suggested an archaic
horizon dened within the Cardial complex and characterised by a simple arrangement of motifs, involving
simple vertical-edged impressions, and friezes (Bernabeu Aubán, Gómez Pérez, Molina Balaguer, & García
Borja, 2011). This style was also identied in Catalonia and the Valencia region as Cardial Arcaico. The use
of striated shells (hence cardial)points to cultural relations with the earlier impressed pottery (Impressa)of
the central Mediterranean. However, ceramics assigned to the Ligurian Impressa complex have been recog-
nised in the Valencia region with chronologies similar to the rst Cardial examples in the region (Bernabeu
Aubán, Molina Balaguer, Esquembre Bebia, Ortega, & Boronat Soler, 2009). The existence of the latter in
Catalonia is currently under discussion (Oms Arias, Terradas, Morell, & Gibaja Bao, 2018).
In this regard, Andalusia has been considered traditionally a territory where Neolithic innovations were
introduced later based on the limited presence of Impressed and Cardial groups, the much better repre-
sentation of an early horizon of Almagra pottery, and the existence of more recent datings in contrast to
earlier chronologies of the Valencia region and Catalonia (Pérez Bareas, Afonso Marrero, Cámara Serrano,
Contreras Cortés, & Lizcano Prestel, 1999). In recent years, however, older datings have been gradually
obtained pointing to a still mostly unknown archaic horizon in the south of Iberia, where impressed pottery
(with a striated shell, comb, and rocker)may have been more signicant. This is the case of the caves of
Nerja (Maro, Malaga)and La Dehesilla (Algar, Cadiz), where dates on caprines (domestic sheep in the rst
case)provide an average of c. 5550 cal. BC (Aura Tortosa et al., 2013; García Rivero et al., 2018).
In turn, the neolithisation of Northwest Africa has been explained by a wide variety of hypotheses. While
some researches have focused on endogenous developments, the neolithisation process has more often been
attributed to events of interaction and transcultural diusion, mainly cultural transmission from southwest
Asia through the Mediterranean coast (Morales Mateos et al., 2016). Even though neolithisation routes were
already suggested to Iberia from Northwest Africa (Bosch Gimpera, 1932), and from Sicily and southern Italy to
the Tunisian coast, and from there to northwest Morocco and Andalusia (García Borja, Aura Tortosa, Ber-
nabeu Aubán, & Jordá Pardo, 2010),dierent hypotheses, currently revitalised, emphasise the close relation-
ships between the emergence of the Neolithic in southern and Mediterranean Iberia and its appearance in the
north of Morocco, based on territorial proximity criteria and the existence of a chronological gradation of
dates between both shores (Martínez Sánchez, Vera Rodríguez, rez-Jordà, Peña-Chocarro, & Bokbot, 2018).
In Morocco, dates on domestic and short-lived samples seem to be signicantly more recent than in the
Iberian Peninsula. Except for one date on Lens cf. culinaris c. 5650 cal. BC (Beta-295779, 6740 ±50)
(Linstädter, Medved, Solich, & Weniger, 2012), whose taxonomic and stratigraphic assignment has been
questioned (Martins et al., 2015; Pardo-Gordó, 2020; Zilhão, 2014), the oldest published dates on domestic
elements come from Kaf Taht el Ghar, associated with impressed and Cardial ceramics, three of them
coincident around 54005350 cal. BC (Martínez Sánchez et al., 2018).
An Andalusian Origin for the First Moroccan Potteries? 1055
These rst ceramics from the north of Morocco have been included in the cardial spectrum related to
those from the south of France and the rst ones identied in the east of the Iberian Peninsula (El Idrissi,
2001; Gilman, 1975). There are also similarities between the ceramic sets with archaic features of Andalusia
and the rst known pottery in northern Morocco. Shared characteristics include the use of striated and
smooth shell and comb impressions. This scenario makes it necessary to reopen the debate on the relation-
ships that could have existed at the beginning of the Neolithic between the two shores of the Alboran Sea.
2 Two Shores: Forms, Decoration, and Timing
Clay is a very ductile and plastic material which adds resolution when identifying variations in decorative
patterns derived from styles and techniques that often reect cultural dierences. As the vessel surfaces are
a canvas to execute motifs and designs of an enormous technical variety in almost innite combinations
(Giord, 1960),culturaldierences are expressed both through the technology of pottery making and through
its decoration. Techno-stylistic features can be replicated via processes of cultural transmission, training, and
imitation through cross-cultural diusion and uni-or multi-directional contacts (see the Lapita case in Sand
et al., 2015). However, the incidence of convergence phenomena (proved through major dierences in time and
space)should not be excluded. In this sense, the invention of pottery within multiple and unrelated focuses
(East Asia, the African Sahara, and the American continent, for example)is particularly signicant, as well as it
is suggestive of the use of similar decorative techniques by unrelated human groups. An illustrative case is
represented by the cord-marked pottery, resulting from the use of roulettes made of wrapped cord to make
impressed decorations in the early Holocene ceramics of Japan or central Sahara (Haour et al., 2010; Hurley,
1979), or the more recent pottery of dierent pre-contact cultures in North America (Ashley & Rolland, 2002).
As has been indicated in the case of Nerja (García Borja et al., 2010), some of the Andalusian ceramics
with an archaic appearance have decorative patterns similar to those observed in southern Italy according
to phylogenetic approaches (Pardo Gordó, García Rivero, & Bernabeu Aubán, 2019). In particular, simila-
rities are established with the Impressa Arcaica,Tirrenica, and the later Guadone facies (56005300 cal. BC)
(Fugazzola Delpino, Pessina, & Tiné, 2002; Pessina & Tiné, 2008), in the latter case perhaps as a result of a
common origin. Once in Iberia, some with traits of the Italian Impressa can be found in the rst ceramics of
the Cardial group in the Valencia region (Sarsa, lOr), which probably fully developed in c. 5600/5550 cal.
BC. and characterised by simple motifs, absence of complex associations or natis impressions, simple shell
impressions below the rim, in mosaic, or extending decoration over the surface of the vessel following
simple patterns (Bernabeu Aubán et al., 2011).
Regarding northern Morocco, other than the traditional classication of the rst ceramics as Cardial (El
Idrissi, 2001), some specic analogies have been seen on both shores of the Alboran Sea in the pottery from
the third quarter of the 6th millennium cal. BC, comprising the Andalusian side. Therefore, it is necessary to
analyse the rst potteries from both shores to evaluate or qualify the existence of common traits.
2.1 Andalusia
The pottery generally associated with the Early Neolithic period of the southern Iberian Peninsula (horizon
known as Cultura de las Cuevas in the historiography)shows a remarkable diversity of forms and decora-
tions. Traditionally, in opposition to what was common in the Valencia region and Catalonia, decorations
made from striated shells and their associated motifs are of little signicance. Instead, the early Andalusian
Neolithic has been classied within a tradition where incised and impressed groove techniques and the use
of red slip (Almagra technique)on the surfaces were dominant. This pointed to a very dierent tradition
from the Cardial group in Valencia and Catalonia and from the Ligurian Impressa, and dierent as well from
the so-called Moroccan Cardial, which characterised the rst pottery tradition in northern Morocco. The
1056 Rafael M. Martínez Sánchez et al.
forms of the vessels are diverse: simple, and composed shapes characterised by asa-pitorrospout or
multi-perforated handles. The
C data record of the Andalusian Cultura de las Cuevaspottery seems to be
concentrated on the last third of the 6th millennium (53004900 cal BC)(Martín Socas, Cámalich Massieu,
Caro Herrero, & Rodríguez-Santos, 2018).
However, some south Iberian sites have recorded ceramics with archaic-looking decorations, showing
impressions with striated shells, but also with a multi-tipped instrument, or even smooth shells or spatulae,
usually not associated with the Almagra technique. Although in most of the cases considered we lack well-
dated stratigraphies that would allow to contextualise chronologically these materials, there are a number
of examples associated with ancient levels and some early
C dates made on bulk shells such as El Retamar
(Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz)(Ramos Muñoz & Lazarich González, 2002), or Cabecicos Negros (Vera, Almería)
(Camalich Massieu & Martín Socas, 2013). Most of these ceramics come from cave or surface sites or multi-
layered sites, lacking a clear chronological correlation.ThiswouldbethecaseofsitesinUpperAndalusiasuch
as Los Mármoles and Murcielaguina caves (Priego de Córdoba),theMajolicas(Alfacar, Granada),Carigüela
(Píñar, Granada),andalongthecoastofGranada,CuevadelCapitán,orZacatín(Martínez Sánchez, Gámiz Caro,
& Vera Rodríguez, 2020). In southern Portugal, we can also include Padrao (Algarve)(Carvalho, 2018).Ceramics
with similar features associated with
C dates, close to 5550 cal BC., are documented in the oldest levels of the
Neolithic occupation of Dehesilla Cave (Cádiz)and Nerja (García Borja et al., 2010; García Borja, Salazar-García,
Jordá Pardo, Pérez Ripoll, & Aura Tortosa, 2018; García Rivero et al., 2018).
2.2 Morocco
Only 14 km of open sea separates the south of the Iberian Peninsula, on the European shore, from the north
of Morocco, on the African coast. Today, the opposite coast can be observed with complete clarity on both
sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, especially when the wind blows from the west (Figure 1:1).
The rst pottery recorded on the Maghreb coast, within a reliable chronological range, was found on the
Tingitana peninsula. The ceramic assemblage includes mainly impressed vessels, many of which are
Figure 1: Satellite view of the Strait of Gibraltar in the geographical framing of southern Iberia and Northern Morocco. NASA
archives. (1)in the upper-right angle, detail of African shore (Jebel Musa)from Andalusian (Tarifa)territory (2020, RMMS).
An Andalusian Origin for the First Moroccan Potteries? 1057
decorated with striated (cardial)shells, making simple motifs, rocker (also with smooth shells), or drag-
ging. The channelled ware group shares with the previous one both vessel shapes and decorative arrange-
ments. Decorations were made using cowries to produce comma-shaped prints, or by dragging and clay
removal in order to make grooves. A third group shows comb-prints, forming simple or rocking decorations.
Other types of impressed decorations, such as ngerprints and undulations or linear (quadrillé)among
others, and modelled additions, mainly reinforcing cords, complete the picture (El Idrissi, 2001; Gilman,
1975). This whole set could be called the Tangerine cluster.
This package includes the sites near Tangier (Oued Tahadart, Magharat el Khil, Idoles, Mugaret el Aliya,
and Mugaret es-Saiya), Kaf Taht el Ghar and Kef Boussaria in Tetouan area, and Gar Cahal, near Ceuta.
Chronologies span the second half of the 6th millennium cal. BC, with the beginning c. 5450 cal. BC, and a
more dicult to dene end. In this respect, the ENA and ENB phases of Ifri Oudadane, beginning c.
5100 cal. BC, comprise relatively analogous pottery, including cardial decorations, but also comb impres-
sions, with frequent rocking patterns (Linstädter & Wagner, 2013). In southern areas, the presence of cardial
and impressed ware is recorded in the Temara region (sites of El Mnasra 2 and El Harhoura 2)(El Idrissi,
2012)and in the foothills of the Middle Atlas (Ifri Namr ou Moussa, Khemisset). Their chronology remains
uncertain in the case of the Temara sites, and it is later for the second case, being comparable to the oldest
sites in the Eastern Rif (c. 5100 cal. BC)(Martínez Sánchez et al., 2018).
2.3 Chronological Links Between Two Shores
To understand in detail the relationships between the rst pottery productions in southern Iberia and
northern Morocco, and establish synchronic and diachronic correlations, it is necessary to analyse not
just the pottery itself, but also its detailed chronological dimension. Even though very few dates are still
available, in the Andalusian case, the emergence of pottery has been considerably anticipated in recent
years. In the case of Morocco, the recent application of radiocarbon hygiene protocols has notably increased
the chronological resolution related to the appearance of the rst pottery, the spread of livestock, and
agriculture in Northwest Africa (Morales Mateos et al., 2016).
Following strict criteria of radiocarbon dates, we propose a detailed chronological table of the Early
Neolithic (dates before 6000 BP)in Andalusia (N=72)and Morocco (N=21)(see the supplementary informa-
tion¹). The adoption of the Neolithic coincides with the simultaneous arrival of agriculture, animalhusbandry,
and pottery in both territories. Only dates obtained on short-lived samples, mostly from cultivated seeds and
domestic animals with a small standard deviationin this case, less than ±85have been considered.
To explore chronological links, we have used the summed probability distribution since it allows going
beyond the simple understanding of
C as absolute time. SPDs were built using R statistical computer
language (Core Team, 2020), and more specically, its package rcarbon v.1.4 (Crema & Bevan, 2021).We
have not normalised our radiocarbon assemblages to solve articial peaks and the bin-width value used is
50. After that, we have converted each SPD into a single radiocarbon date according to its BP and SD
average, and we have nally applied the contemporaneity test (Ward & Wilson, 1978)to both dates to
explore if the implementation of the Neolithic in both regions is statistically equal, based on alpha =0.05.
3 An Iberian Origin for the First Moroccan Potteries?
To compare the still poorly known archaic pottery productions of the early Andalusian Neolithic and the
rst Moroccan productions (Tangerine cluster), it is necessary to establish similarities and dierences, that
is the existence of shared techniques and styles in both groups. These technical and stylistic features
1058 Rafael M. Martínez Sánchez et al.
existing in both territories, interwoven in a tight chronological framework, can serve to evidence any
possible connection. Similarly, the absence of any of these features on the opposite shore of the Strait of
Gibraltar would serve to rule out such a possibility. This last conclusion neither considers short-term
phenomena of loss of traditions, transformation, and simplication of styles after translocation events,
nor does include the development of new traditions across the bottleneck provided by the Gibraltar straits
passage through the sea.
3.1 Techniques, Matches, and Divergences
One of the most distinctive features of the Ligurian Impressa ware is the slab-and-drag technique (often
described as impressed groove technique or sillon dimpressions), assimilated to the Iberian peninsulas
boquique decoration. This particular technique is present in some sites in the south of France, such as Peiro
Signado, Pont de Roque Haute (Portiragnes), and La Farigoule (Aubord), since 5850 cal. BC (Manen et al.,
2019), but also in the probably more recent Valencian sites of Mas dIs and Barranquet (Bernabeu Aubán, Molina
Balaguer, Esquembre Bebia, Ortega, & Boronat Soler, 2009). Centuries later, a comparable technique became a
distinctive feature of the Andalusian Neolithic (Cultura de las Cuevas),butinthiscase,itisnotanevidenceof
archaism. Thus, towards the last third of the sixth millennium Cal BC, impressed grooves of more evolved
appearance were common along with other types of impressions, incisions, and red slip Almagra technique.
So, in Andalusia, impressed grooves could already be included in the above-mentioned archaic phase. The
existence of some slab-and-drag decorations more closely related to the sillon dimpression in their formal traits
hasbeenusedtoclaimanoldageatsomesites(Cueva del Toro, Malaga and Cabecicos Negros, Almería)
(Camalich Massieu & Martín Socas, 2013). Regarding the African shore, at present, there is no evidence to prove
the existence of comparable techniques among the early Neolithic pottery in northern Morocco.
Rocking techniques, using shells or instruments, are a distinctive feature of the Impressa Arcaica group,
specic to southern Italy in the rst half of the sixth millennium BC and present on the Dalmatian coast some
decades earlier (Podrug et al., 2018). Although these techniques are not unknown in the Tyrrhenian Impressa
facies, they are absent in sites from southern France sites associated with Ligurian Impressa (Guilaine, 2018).
Moreover, rocker impressions often using a striated shell, but also recorded with a comb or smooth shell, are
identied in the Valencia region within the Impressed and Cardial complexes (Phase 1 and 2)(Bernabeu
Aubán et al., 2011; García Borja, 2017). In the case of the Tangerine cluster and the eastern Rif rst pottery, the
common use of smooth or striated shells among other instruments (mainly combs)with rocker techniques is
attested (El Idrissi, 2001; Gilman, 1975; Linstädter & Wagner, 2013)(Figure 2).
In Morocco, the comma-shaped impressions made with cowry along with grooves are the most char-
acteristic sign of the Channelled group in the Tangerine cluster (Martínez Sánchez et al., 2017). The use of
gastropods to make impressions can be traced back to the Impressa Arcaica and Tirrenica wares (Natali,
2009; Tozzi & Weiss, 2001)and, thus, the use of cowries siphonal notch is well-attested some time earlier
(Le Secche, Giglio Island)(Brandaglia, 1991). Impressions made with double-pointed instruments, similar
to the projected edges of the siphonal notch in species such as Luria lurida, can be found in the Ligurian
Impressa, in pottery from Pont de Roque Haute and Peiro Signado (Manen & Guilaine, 2007; Manen et al.,
2006), as well as in the Iberian examples from the Valencian Cardial (Bernabeu Aubán, 1989: Lam. V), and
in later examples from Cendres (Alicante)(Bernabeu Aubán et al., 2009). Similar prints are also found in the
south of Portugal (Salema, Sines), together with crescent impressions, perhaps made with a blunt-edged
spatula (Tavares da Silva & Soares, 1981). Motifs very similar to this one, with precedents in the Ligurian
Impressa (Bernabò Brea, 1946), have been assigned to an early Neolithic level in Cova den Pardo (Alicante)
associated to old datings (c. 5550 cal. BC)(Soler et al., 2011). In Andalusia, though the published data are
scarce, some similar impressions, most probably made with cowries, can be recognised at sites such as
Cabecicos Negros (Vera, Almería)(Cámalich Massieu, Martín Socas, González Quintero, Goñi, & Rodríguez,
2004: Figure 3; Medved, 2013: Figure 57, VU 585)or Carigüela (Píñar)(Layers XIV and XV)(Navarrete
Enciso, 1976).
An Andalusian Origin for the First Moroccan Potteries? 1059
The red slip technique found in the classicperiod (Cultura de las Cuevas)of the Andalusian Neolithic
(c. 53004700 cal. BC)is a dening feature of this horizon. Considered distinctive of the south of Spain and
Portugal (equivalent to the Portuguese Style B), its origin is deeply rooted, in impressed assemblages from the
central Mediterranean. This relationship particularly concerns the powder and colour of the paste (incrustation)
applied to prints rather than the slip type (Pessina & Tiné, 2008). Slip colouring and incrustation were known in
Morocco, but cases before the 5th millennium cal. BC. are unknown. The known examples are associated with
the progressive arrival of stylistic features of Saharan origin, together with corded decoration, wavy line, or a
roulettemotifs (Linstädter & Wagner, 2013; Martínez Sánchez et al., 2018).
Regarding forms and types, additions like means of prehension (composite or double handles)and
spouts (asa-pitorrotype)characteristic of the (classic)Andalusian Neolithic are also rather unknown in
the early Moroccan Neolithic (Martínez Sánchez et al., 2018). In the same way, in the Moroccan Cardial there
are particular vessel forms, such as deep conical bottomed vases with constricted neck and everted rims.
These forms, apparently divergent from the usual sixth millennium pottery productions of Mediterranean
Europe, have sometimes been related to those found in Andalusia within the typical horizon of the Anda-
lusian Neolithic (Linstädter et al., 2012; Manen, Marchand, & Carvalho, 2007). However, these forms share
features with other vessels with an everted rim and/or an impressed cord on the neckline, present at some
typical Cardial sites in the Valencia region and Catalonia, such as Benàmer and Sarsa (Alicante)(vessels
321, 394), or Guixeres de Vilobí (Barcelona)(vessel 13)(García Atiénzar, Torregrosa Gimenez, Jover Maestre,
& López Seguí, 2015; García Borja, 2017; Oms Arias, 2014). In turn, similar forms, although rare, were known
in the Impressa Tirrenica complex (Brandaglia, 1991; Fugazzola Delpino et al., 2002).
3.2 Timing for the Pillars of Hercules Crossing?
Figure 3 shows the summed probability distribution in both regions. Based on the visual exploration of both
SPDs, we observe that the establishment of the Neolithic in Andalusia is around a century older than that in
Morocco. Results are consistent with the available archaeological information. In the case of Andalusia,
Figure 2: Some examples of impressed decorated potsherds from Andalusia (16)and Morocco (Kaf That el Ghar)(711). Simple
impressions and rocker with striated shell (cardial and pecten impressions):(13, 6?, 79, 11)Rocker impressions with comb or
multi-toothed instruments: (4, 5, 10, 12).(1 and b)Majolicas, Alfacar, Granada; (2 and c)Cueva de las Campanas, Gualchos,
Granada; (3, 6, and a)Cueva de los Mármoles, Priego de Córdoba; (4 and c)Zacatin Rockshelter, Castell de Ferro, Granada; (5
and c)Cueva del Capitán, Lobres, Granada; (712 and d)Kaf Taht el Ghar Cave (Tetouan).
1060 Rafael M. Martínez Sánchez et al.
thanks to recent research (Aura Tortosa et al., 2013; García Rivero et al., 2018), evidences of early pottery,
agriculture, and animal husbandry have been pushed back reaching the barrier of 5500 cal. BC
In Northern Morocco, very old dates (up to before the seventh millennium cal. BC)were assumed for the rst
pottery production (Kaf That el Ghar, Tetouan)preventing any chronological discussion until very recently.
Here, archaeological excavations during the 1980s and 1990s produced
C dates on charcoal coming from
controversial layers (Daugas,ElIdrissi,Ballouche,Marinval,&Ouchaou,2008). Moreover, stratigraphic issues
and palimpsest mixtures in the sequence of Kef Boussaria (Tetouan)did also inuence these assumptions.
In the Moroccan Eastern Rif, the site of Ifri Oudadane has provided an early
C date (c. 5600 cal. BC)for
the Early Neolithic A carried out on legume seed of controversial taxonomy (Lens culinaris). In this case, the
results can be compared to other short-lived dates on wild elements of the last underlying Epipalaeolithic
level. Further dates of other cultivated crops from the same site Early Neolithic A levels have provided dates
close to 5100 cal. BC for both the rst pottery and domestic species (Linstädter, Broich, & Weninger, 2018;
Morales Mateos et al., 2016).
Following excavations by a HispanoMoroccan team within the ERC AGRIWESTMED project, dates of
cultivated wheat, sheep, and human bone were obtained from the rst pottery levels at Kaf Taht el Ghar.
Results place the 5400 cal. BC threshold as the oldest reliable timeline recognizable through radiocarbon of
the Neolithic in Northwest Africa (Martínez Sánchez et al., 2018).
Then, can we tell if the Neolithic spread is contemporary in both regions? To explore this possibility, we
have calculated the Ward and Wilson test (Andalusia_SPD_mean: 6195 ±37; Morroco_SPD_mean: 6192 ±
38)and its results point to a contemporary process in both regions. But when we explore this contemporary
spread based on the oldest radiocarbon dates of each region (Dehesilla [CNA-4241]and Kaf That el Ghar
[Beta-295780]), the test indicates that both sites are not contemporary.
4 Conclusion
According to updated information, the Neolithic developed in Andalusia around 5550 cal. BC, while in
neighbouring Morocco (Tingitana Peninsula)dates are delayed by one century. Nevertheless, this key
Figure 3: Summed probability distribution of Andalusia (lower graph)and Northern Morocco (upper graph). Rcarbon v.1.4
(Crema & Bevan, 2021).
An Andalusian Origin for the First Moroccan Potteries? 1061
historical process can be considered contemporary based on statistical results. The next few yearsresearch
will witness an increase in the resolution of Neolithic chronologies in both regions. Future
C old dates,
similar to those from Nerja and La Dehesilla, are expected in Andalusia.
Based on the available data, it is suggested that the neolithisation of southern Iberia and Morocco
seems to respond to an event using navigation technology in a short time span. This can be interpreted as a
result of the progressive occupation of the coastal strip of Southern Iberia during a short time equivalent to
a few human generations. This phenomenon is probably reected in the ceramic shapes and decorations.
This hypothesis appears to be reinforced by the new ndings.
While in the Northeast and the Valencia region, the existence of an Impressa horizon similar to that of
Mediterranean France and related to the Ligurian style has been identied, in Andalusia this does not seem
to be the case (Guilaine, 2018). Instead, the rst Andalusian ceramics shared traits with those from the
Italian Peninsula (Impressa Arcaica, Guadone Facies), and with some of the rst pottery from the Iberian
Mediterranean. These common traits were then projected to the early ceramics of northern Morocco, where
the rocking decoration with smooth, striated shells and combs, cardial dragging, and the use of gastropods
to make impressions was highly developed. The apparent lack of the impressed slab-and-drag technique
and the red slip Almagra in this territory poses the question of whether such techniques were already
present in Southern Iberia but were not transferred to North Africa, or whether at the time of transmission,
probably occurring between 5550 and 5400 cal. BC, both techniques had still not reached the development
achieved from the last third of the 6th millennium cal. BC in southern Iberia.
The origin and characteristics of the archaic Andalusian pottery are likely reviewed with more resolu-
tion in the coming years. In any case, it seems likely that the chronological gap between the rst ceramics
from the Iberian northeast and the Central Mediterranean, and those from the northern coast of the Alboran
Sea and inland Upper Andalusia, will be progressively reduced. And so, it is possible to foresee the gradual
arrival of dierent human groups across the Mediterranean. In the Valencia region, traces of those who left
their mark in the South of France (Ligurian Impressa)have been recognised. Dierent groups associated
with styles from southern Italy also left traces in Mediterranean Iberia and Andalusia and would leap the
Strait of Gibraltar, playing a decisive role in the genesis of the so-called Moroccan Cardial.
Thus, the partial synchrony between the Andalusian Neolithic (Cultura de las Cuevas)of the last third of
the 6th millennium and the beginning of the 5th and the Moroccan Cardial can be explained as a conse-
quence of the dierential evolution of both ceramic sets after the arrival to the African coast. In Andalusia,
in few human generations, vessel forms developed into a multiplicity of types which showed geographical
variation related to the use of Almagra slips, impressed groove decoration among other elaborated patterns,
with typical forms (asa-pitorro type). At the same time, in the Tingitana peninsula and adjacent territories, a
characteristic impressed cardial style that developed separately has been found. This particular style
incorporated elements of Saharan origin well-advanced the 5th millennium cal. BC.
Funding information: Archaeological works in Morocco (the Spanish-Moroccan team)were funded by a
European Research Council Advanced Grant AGRIWESTMED (Origins and spread of agriculture in the
western Mediterranean region)coordinated by L.P.-CH. Processing works were performed thanks to a
IJCI-2016-27812 Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities-Universidad de Granada, Juan
de la Cierva-Incorporación Agreement (2016, by RMMS), and by funding provided in the framework of project
Archaeobiology of the Neolithic of the Southern Iberian Peninsula(NeArqBioSI)A-HUM-460-UGR18 by
Consejería de Economía, Conocimiento, Empresas y Universidad. FEDER Programme Andalusian Council-
Granada University. Finally, G. Pérez-Jordà has carried out this research within the grant CIDEGENT/2019/00,
funded by the Generalitat Valenciana.
Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and
approved its submission. RMMS, JGC, and SPG drafted the text. JCV and GPJ considerably expanded the
reference list and conducted the archaeological work that forms the empirical basis of the work. LPC is the
PI of the AGRIWESTMED project which is the institutional framework for this work. She also revised the text
and improved the English version.
1062 Rafael M. Martínez Sánchez et al.
Conict of interest: Authors state no conict of interest.
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An Andalusian Origin for the First Moroccan Potteries? 1065
... Both methods date the contact within the last six to 13 generations ( Supplementary Information 8), suggesting that mixing between groups occurred for a few hundred years, which is consistent with analysis of pottery style that points to the first contact at 7,500-7,400 cal bp (ref. 23). ...
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This paper presents the results from an archaeological excavation at the Neolithic site of Rašinovac, near Ždrapanj in the Piramatovci Valley (in the hinterland of the town of Skradin in Northern Dalmatia). This previously unknown site was test excavated in 2013 when a 2x2-metre trench was opened to determine the site’s stratigraphy and chronology. Excavations suggested that Rašinovac was a single-layer open-air settlement and subsequent analyses of the material culture (mostly pottery and chert) confirmed that it was an Impressed Ware site. Two radiocarbon dates also reveal that Rašinovac is among the earliest known Early Neolithic sites in the region (first century of the 6th millennium BC).
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Objective: We analyze the processing sequence involved in the manufacture of a skull‐cup and the manipulation of human bones from the Early Neolithic of Cueva de El Toro (Málaga, Spain). Materials and methods The Early Neolithic material studied includes human remains found in two separate assemblages. Assemblage A consists of one skull‐cup, a non‐manipulated adult human mandible, and four ceramic vessels. Assemblage B contains manipulated and non‐manipulated human remains that appeared mingled with domestic waste. Using a taphonomic approach, we evaluate the skull‐cup processing and the anthropogenic alteration of human bones. Results: The skull‐cup was processed by careful paring away of skin, fragmentation of the facial skeleton and base of the skull, and controlled percussion of the edges of the calotte to achieve a regular shape. It was later boiled for some time in a container that caused pot polish in a specific area. The other human bones appeared scattered throughout the living area, mixed with other remains of domestic activity. Some of these bones show cut marks, percussion damage for marrow extraction, and tooth/chewing marks. Discussion: Evidence from Cueva de El Toro suggests that cannibalism was conducted in the domestic sphere, likely following ritualized practices where the skull‐cup could have played a part. Interpretation of this evidence suggests two hypotheses: (a) aggressive cannibalism relates to extreme inter‐group violence; and (b) funerary cannibalism is a facet of multi‐stage burial practices. Similar evidence has been found in other Neolithic sites of this region and suggests that cannibalism and skull‐cups were elements widespread in these communities. These practices may be linked to significant transformations associated with the end of the Early Neolithic in southern Iberia.
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Cueva de la Dehesilla contó con dos excavaciones arqueológicas en 1977 y 1981. Desde entonces se conoce el potencial prehistórico del sitio, especialmente en relación con sus fases neolíticas, y se convirtió en uno de los enclaves fundamentales en el sur de la península ibérica. Este artículo presenta los datos procedentes de las recientes intervenciones arqueológicas retomadas cuatro décadas después. Concretamente se da a conocer la secuencia estratigráfica prehistórica de un sondeo efectuado en 2016, sus conjuntos cerámico y lítico, así como cuatro fechas radiocarbónicas. Entre los resultados, destaca la relativa antigüedad de las nuevas dataciones y la presencia de posible ceramica impressa, indicador material de las primeras poblaciones neolíticas en el Mediterráneo occidental. Los datos obtenidos implican diversos puntos de discusión sobre el origen y la evolución de las sociedades campesinas y ganaderas a niveles regional y peninsular. Two archaeological excavations were carried out at Dehesilla Cave in 1977 and 1981. The site gained a great scientific interest then, especially in relation to the Neolithic, and it became one of the key archaeological sites in the Southern Iberian Peninsula. This paper presents new data from the recent archaeological excavations resumed four decades later. Specifically, it provides the data on the Prehistoric stratigraphic sequence documented in 2016, along with the pottery and lithic assemblages, as well as four radiocarbon dates. Of particular interest is the relative antiquity of the new radiocarbon dates and the presence of possible ceramica impressa, a material proxy of the first Neolithic populations in the Western Mediterranean. These results raise several discussion key points on the origin and the evolution of farming and herding societies in the Southern Iberian Peninsula.
RESUMEN: El uso de la información radiométrica para establecer con mayor precisión la llegada del Neolítico a la Península Ibérica se ha incrementado en las últimas décadas, debido a la popularización y utilidad del método de datación por C14. Sin embargo, las fechas de radiocarbono presentan problemas asociados a cuestiones de contexto arqueológico, de método mismo y de muestra, ya discutidos por diferentes investigadores. En este escenario, el objetivo del trabajo se ha centrado en analizar las posibles diferencias cronológicas entre las dataciones de ovicaprinos domésticos y las de cereales en relación con los inicios del Neolítico. Para ello se han comparado ambas clases de dataciones en aquellos yacimientos arqueológicos peninsulares que las disponían, es decir, se han cotejado fechas obtenidas de muestras de oveja o cabra domésticas y de muestras de cereal, procedentes de un mismo contexto arqueológico. Los análisis llevados a cabo en este trabajo han planteado la posible identificación de una nueva problemática, o tendencia, que se caracteriza por la propensión de las fechas realizadas sobre hueso de ovicaprino doméstico a retroceder unas décadas la introducción del Neolítico en la Península Ibérica.
The past decade has witnessed an intensification of research into the use of pottery by hunter-gatherers. Long viewed by Western scholars as a marginal practice among these groups, pottery production is now known to have been widespread among prehistoric hunter-gatherers, many of whom practised no other activities associated with agriculture. In emphasising the centrality of ceramics to these communities, however, we risk marginalising those who did not adopt pottery. Here, the authors critically examine a series of different models proposed for hunter-gatherer pottery innovation and adoption within the context of the aceramic communities who inhabited Britain and Ireland during the fifth millennium cal BC.
Mediterranean Africa forms a crucial junction between the wider Saharan zone and the rest of the Mediterranean. In contrast to its well-investigated history from the first millennium BC onward, its antecedent dynamics are very poorly understood, and deeper archaeological histories of the Mediterranean therefore remain unbalanced and incomplete. This paper draws on a new surge in data to present the first up-todate interpretative synthesis of this region’s archaeology from the start of the Holocene until the threshold of the Iron Age (9600–1000 bc). It presents the evidence for climatic, environmental and sea-level change, followed by analysis of the chronological and spatial patterning of all radiocarbon dates from Mediterranean Africa, brought together for the first time. The principal exploration then divides into three phases. During Phase 1 (9600–6200 bc) diverse forms of hunting, gathering and foraging were ubiquitous. Phase 2 (6200–4000 bc) witnessed more continuity than elsewhere in the Mediterranean, but also the widespread uptake of domesticated livestock and gradual evolution of herding societies, as well as limited enclaves of farming. Phase 3 (4000–1000 bc) has been least explored, outside developments in Egypt; in the east this phase witnessed the emergence of fully nomadic and transhumant pastoralism, with political superstructures, while trajectories in the west remain obscure, but in parts of the Maghreb suggest complex possibilities. Contacts with the Mediterranean maritime world grew during the third and second millennia bc, while interaction to the south was transformed by desertification. Understanding how the southern Mediterranean shore was drawn into Iron Age networks will require much better knowledge of its indigenous societies. The present constitutes a pivotal moment, in terms of accumulated knowledge, pathways for future investigation and engagement with a challenging current geopolitical situation.
Recent research into the European Neolithisation process and the development of farming communities reveals a diverse and complex cultural landscape. In the Western Mediterranean, it is now well known that the first agro-pastoral economy appears around 6000 BCE in south-eastern Italy and that part of these sites, often grouped under the generic term “Impressed Ware”, represent the departure point for the diffusion of the Neolithic economy. In this context, its rapid dispersal towards northern Italy and southern France is now interpreted as part of a pioneering colonization based on the use of maritime routes and preceding of several centuries the expansion of the Cardial culture. In southern France, archaeological settlements that make it possible to characterize this early stage of the Neolithisation process are still rare and do not have an equal value. The new discovery of an Impressa implantation at the site of ZAC de la Farigoule 2 (Aubord), in the Mediterranean Languedoc, gives us the opportunity to consolidate our knowledge about this major historical phenomenon. Despite its limited size, this site provides a rich set of data: domestic structures, pottery production, flint and obsidian industries, ground stone tools… The technological and typological characteristics of the pottery and the flint industry can be clearly assigned to the Impressa facies (Arene Candide-Caucade-Peiro Signado style). La Farigoule 2 is therefore an undeniable testimony to the establishment of a group linked to the agro-pastoral communities of the Italian peninsula. It is not possible to discuss in length the nature of the occupation on the basis of the deposits provided by the excavation. Nevertheless, the indirect evidence of cereal farming (sickle blades), the diversity of craft activities, the domestic structures, the identification of potters' tools, all these data are consistent with the image of a permanent occupation. Local resources are exploited: siliceous raw materials, clay soils and hard rocks. However, the use of products acquired several hundred kilometres away reinforces the hypothesis of the pioneering displacement of human groups taking with them their technical, economic and cultural background. Discussed in the broader scale of southern France and western Mediterranean, these new data allow us to consider fundamental issues raised by this pioneering colonization process. Important spatial discontinuities are observed in the distribution of these settlements, although this phenomenon seems to concern the entire Western Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the discovery presented in this paper should encourage us to consider a perhaps higher density of sites. It should also lead us to question our ability to detect these settlements. Concerning the natural and cultural factors that determine the settlement patterns of these Impressa groups, they are still in discussion but the scarcity of the paleoenvironmental data (position of the shoreline, vegetal landscape) restricts argumentation. Another issue is the future of these pioneering groups and their impact on the overall Neolithisation process in the South of France and possibly in Mediterranean Spain. In a large part of Southern France, one can observe a real chronological hiatus between sites with Impressa facies and those from the Cardial. Without ruling out the possibility of a taphonomic bias, this situation could be related to the model of micro-breaks observed elsewhere in the Neolithic diffusion in the Mediterranean at different periods. Finally, the analysis of the material productions of these pioneering groups illustrates complex socio-cultural dynamics that we still need to unravel. While the temporal dynamics of the diffusion of the "Neolithic package" (farming economy, pottery,…) across the western Mediterranean seems to be well understood, the chronometric, social and cultural framework needs to be considerably refined. In this perspective, further works on this important stage of Neolithic history, particularly through the discovery of new sites, is a major challenge for future research.