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Cultural change or continuity in the late MSA/Early LSA of southeastern Ethiopia? The site of Goda Buticha, Dire Dawa area

  • Pleurdeau, David
  • Hovers, Erella
  • Assefa, Zelalem
  • Asrat, Asfawossen
  • Pearson, Osbjorn
  • Bahain, Jean-Jacques
  • Lam, Yin Man1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 6, 11, 6, 12
  • 1 Département de Préhistoire
  • 2 UMR 7194
  • 3 CNRS Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle
  • 4 Institute of Archaeology
  • 5 The Hebrew University
  • 6 Department of Anthropology
  • 7 Archaeobiology Program & Human Origins Program
  • 8 National Museum of Natural History
  • 9 Department of Earth Sciences
  • 10 Addis Ababa University
  • 11 University of New Mexico
  • 12 University of Victoria
Published Article
Quaternary International
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2014.02.001


Goda Buticha is a newly discovered cave site in southeastern Ethiopia, containing MSA and LSA cultural material, faunal remains, beads, and human skeletal remains. A 2.3 m-deep sedimentary sequence records two occupational phases separated by a sharp chronological hiatus, in the Upper Pleistocene (∼ 43–31.5 ka cal BP) and in the mid- Holocene (7.8–4.7 ka cal BP). Faunal remains suggest changes in paleoecological conditions that are in agreement with patterns documented in regional speleothem-based reconstructions. The lithic assemblage at the base of the sequence is clearly MSA, with Levallois production, unifacial and bifacial points, relatively large debitage and use of local raw materials, associated with a microlithic component. The overlaying LSA assemblage contains diagnostic artifacts (backed microliths and bladelet production), with ubiquitous use of obsidian and MSA elements that appear in the Holocene. In the absence of indications for post-depositional mixture, the apparent cultural continuity of MSA elements from the Upper Pleistocene into the Middle Holocene at Goda Buticha may represent yet another variation of the elusive MSA/LSA transition. Goda Buticha is a key site for reevaluating the dynamics and tempo of this transition in eastern Africa.

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