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Geo-archaeological research at Sodmein Cave revisited

Sodmein Cave in Egypt’s Eastern Desert, with its more than 4 m of stratified human occupation debris, was revisited in autumn 2010 by a joint research team of archaeologists and geographers from the universities of Cologne (Germany) and Leuven (Belgium).

It is one of the rare locations in Egypt to have an archaeological sequence spanning from the Middle Palaeolithic through the Neolithic.

Based on former research by the Belgian Middle Egypt Prehistoric Project (BMEPP) under the direction of Pierre M. Vermeersch, the lowermost archaeological levels are associated with the Early Nubian complex and have been dated to 115 ka. They are superimposed by strata of the Nubian complex (around 50 ka) and of the Upper Palaeolithic (around 25 ka). Last but not least, several Neolithic layers have been identified.

Latest fieldwork undertaken in autumn 2011 consisted not only of archaeological excavations but also geomorphological research and systematic geo-archaeological surveys. The focal point of studies was directed towards OSL-dating of the Middle Palaeolithic layers in Sodmein Cave, for which secure dates are still lacking. In collaboration with A. Hilgers (project F2), several OSL-samples were taken from different sectors of the cave. First preliminary results suggest promising results for the period between 60 and 70 ka, an interval which also constitutes a main focus of CRC 806. Sediment samples of organic-rich layers are currently being studied to provide reconstructions of environmental conditions and human-nature interactions.

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a1-bubenzer_fig_1_lhk_550px
Wadi Sodmein: Combination of a digital elevation model (WorldView, resolution 1 m) and a high resolution satellite image (in cooperation with project Z2).
a1-bubenzer_fig_2_lhk_550pxView out of the rock shelter (during excavation) into Wadi Sodmein.
Photo: Olaf Bubenzer

 

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