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Smuggler's Cave

The site has a notoriously difficult stratigraphy. As a result several interpretations of the stratigraphy have been offered over the years, none of which have been correlated with one another.

The original description of the stratigraphy at Contrebandiers (Roche 1958-1959, 1963, 1976) recognized seven layers from top (I) to bottom (VII). The first layer (I) corresponds to the Neolithic, the second (II) to the Epipaleolithic, and from the third (III) down the site yielded Aterian industries. Notice that at this time the existence of Mousterian layers was not yet recognized. The last two layers at least are sterile with layer VII representing the ancient Ouljien beach.

With the new excavations led by Roche and Texier an entirely new stratigraphy was established for the site (Roche and Texier 1976; Roche 1976; Debénath et al 1986; Bouzouggar 1997a). This new stratigraphy consisted of 16 layers and was not correlated directly with the previously established sequence (figure 3). It was made clear that the correlation between levels was far from straightforward due to the significant lateral variation in the levels (Roche 1976). Further, it was established that the Iberomaurusians dug pits that extended into the underlaying Aterian levels further complicating the stratigraphy (Delibrias and Roche 1976).

In this new stratigraphy layers 1-5 are associated with the Neolithic, layer 6 is sterile, the Iberomaurusian is found in layer 7, and the Aterian is found from layers 8 to 14. Layers 15 and 16 finally are sterile (Roche and Texier 1976; Niftah 2003). In a later clarification, Roche specifies that from layer 11b onwards the assemblages lack stemmed tools and should be classified as Mousterian and not Aterian (Debénath et al 1986).

With the new excavations in 1994 led by A. Bouzouggar (1997a) yet another stratigraphy was proposed for the site, which again remained uncorrelated with the two other sequences. The stratigraphy of Bouzouggar consists of 15 layers and due to where he dug starts immediately with the Upper Aterian in level I.

Finally, Sabah Niftah, in her PhD dissertation (2003) proposes yet another sequence based on her study of the sequence at the site. She recognizes 11 sedimentologically defined layers and correlates her stratigraphy with the archaeological ones from Bouzouggar. Some of her layers collapse previously subdivided ones (for example layers 2, 3, and 4 of Bouzouggar become layer 2 of Niftah), whereas others are separated (e.g. layer 8 becomes layers 5 and 6)(Niftah 2003).



Previous excavations at the site removed all Neolithic layers except for a small remnant under significant roof-fall in the northern wall (Bouzouggar 1997a; Niftah 2003; Debénath personal communication 2005) (figure 5). If the same is true for the Iberomaurusian layers is not clear, but likely some of these deposits are preserved towards the back of the cave.

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

The Dates->

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