First high resolution chronostratigraphy for the early North African Acheulean at Casablanca (Morocco)

Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 28;11(1):15340. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-94695-3.


The onset of the Acheulean, marked by the emergence of large cutting tools (LCTs), is considered a major technological advance in the Early Stone Age and a key turning point in human evolution. The Acheulean originated in East Africa at ~ 1.8-1.6 Ma and is reported in South Africa between ~ 1.6 and > 1.0 Ma. The timing of its appearance and development in North Africa have been poorly known due to the near-absence of well-dated sites in reliable contexts. The ~ 1 Ma stone artefacts of Tighennif (Algeria) and Thomas Quarry I-Unit L (ThI-L) at Casablanca (Morocco) are thus far regarded as documenting the oldest Acheulean in North Africa but whatever the precision of their stratigraphical position, both deserve a better chronology. Here we provide a chronology for ThI-L, based on new magnetostratigraphic and geochemical data. Added to the existing lithostratigraphy of the Casablanca sequence, these results provide the first robust chronostratigraphic framework for the early North African Acheulean and firmly establish its emergence in this part of the continent back at least to ~ 1.3 Ma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't