The Khormusan: Evidence for an MSA East African industry in Nubia

Mae Goder-Goldberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


There is clear evidence of lithic technological variability in Middle Paleolithic (MP) assemblages along the Nile valley and in adjacent desert areas. One of the identified variants is the Khormusan, the type-site of which, Site 1017, is located north of the Nile's Second Cataract. The industry has two distinctive characteristics that set it apart from other MP industries within its vicinity. One is the use of a wide variety of raw materials; the second is an apparent correlation between raw material and technology used, suggesting a cultural aspect to raw material management. Stratigraphically, site 1017 is situated within the Dibeira-Jer formation which represents an aggradation stage of the Nile and contains sediments originating from the Ethiopian Highlands. While it has previously been suggested that the site dates to sometime before 42.5ka, the Dibeira-Jer formation can plausibly be correlated with Nile alluvial sediments in northern Sudan recently dated to 83±24ka (MIS 5a). This stage coincides with the 81ka age of sapropel S3, indicating higher Nile flow and stronger monsoon rainfall at these times. Other sites which reflect similar raw material variability and technological traditions are the BNS and KHS sites in the Omo Kibish Formation (Ethiopia) dated to ~100ka and ~190ka respectively. Based on a lithic comparative study conducted, it is suggested that site 1017 can be seen as representing behavioral patterns which are indicative of East African Middle Stone Age (MSA) technology, adding support to the hypothesis that the Nile Valley was an important dispersal route used by modern humans prior to the long cooling and dry trend beginning with the onset of MIS 4. Techo-typological comparison of the assemblages from the Khormusan sites with other Middle Paleolithic sites from Nubia and East Africa is used to assess the possibility of tracing the dispersal of technological traits across the landscape and through time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-194
Number of pages13
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - 25 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'The Khormusan: Evidence for an MSA East African industry in Nubia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this