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Smuggler's Cave

Probably the site of Contrebandiers is best known for the important series of human fossil remains it has yielded. These remains are from the Aterian and Iberomaurusian layers.

The most important ones, however, are the Aterian ones as human remains from this period are extremely scarce. In all there are only six sites in North Africa with hominid fossils associated with Aterian assemblages. These are Dar-es-Soltan II, Zourah (El Harhourha I), El Harhourha II, El Aliya, Taforalt, and Contrebandiers (Debénath et al 1986; Debénath 1976, 1980, 1982, 1992, 2000; Ferembach 1976a, 1976b; Roche and Texier 1976; Roche 1976; Senyürek 1940). All of these sites are in Morocco and all but two occur very close together in caves on the Atlantic coast just south of Rabat.

The supposed Iberomaurusian remains from Contrebandiers include six teeth: an LM1 and LM3; a LM1 and LM2 attached to a maxillary fragment from layer 3; a RP1 and M3 from layer 2 (Ménard 1998). Due to their large size it is thought that some of these teeth might actually belong to the Aterian (Ménard 1998).

The Aterian remains consist of an isolated tooth (LM2) from layer 8; and a mandible with 12 teeth, an occipital with partial parietals, and a fragment of the frontal bone from layer 9 (Ferembach 1976a, 1998; Ménard 1998; Saban 1998; Vallois and Roche 1958). It is unclear if these latter pieces belong to the same individual. Based on the suggested age for the occipital and the unworn aspect of the teeth in the mandible as reported in Ferembach (1998) and Ménard (1998), this seems unlikely. However, Hublin (1993) suggested the specimens do belong to the same individual. This assessment fits with the younger age Saban (1998) attributes the occipital and the fact that all fragments were found close together (Roche 1976, Roche and Texier 1976).

At the time the mandible was first discovered it was thought that it belong to a much earlier period. This chronological assessment fit well with the extremely robust character of the mandible. Since then, however, the age has been re-interpreted to be Upper Aterian and the robust teeth fit well with remains of other Aterian fossils from nearby sites such as Dar-es-Soltan II (Ménard 2002).

content provided by Utsav Schurmans from the Rapport D'Operations Pour l'Année 2006


History of Excavation The Stratigraphy DatesThe Neolithic Upper Paleolithic Middle Paleolithic Fauna Hominids