Site: Littorina Cave Species: H. erectus Year of Discovery: 1954  Discovered by: Pierre Biberson  Geological Age: Approximately between 400 – 300 thousand years ago  Cultural Attribution: Lower Paleolithic – Acheulean  Developmental Age: Presumed Sex:
A large quarry system along the Atlantic coast near Casablanca (Morocco) containing undated Upper Pleistocene coastal sediments (beach and dune deposits, and cave deposits in consolidated dunes) that have yielded Early Paleolithic artifacts at a number of sites, as well as some hominin fossils. At one site, Littorina Cave or Cunette, an Acheulean artifact associated with fauna including a partial mandible attributed to Homo erectus has come from these deposits. This human fossil may represent the same hominin population as that known from the nearby Thomas Quarries and Salé, although the specimen has also been assigned to the same group as the earlier Tighenif specimens from Algeria. Other site names applied to specific quarries in the Sidi Abderrahman group that have yielded artifacts and/or fossils include STIC Quarry and Thomas Quarries I, II, and III.
See also Acheulean; Africa, North; Archaic Homo sapiens; Early Paleolithic; Homo erectus; Pleistocene; Salé; Thomas Quarries; Tighenif. [N.T., K.S., C.B.S.].
Three quarries near Casablanca (Morocco) which have produced Middle Pleistocene faunal material, Acheulean tools, and hominid specimens. The Thomas 1 quarry yielded a mandible in 1969; the Thomas 3 quarry, cranial fragments in 1972. The sites are of approximately the same age, close to that of the nearby finds from Salé and Sidi Abderrahman, ca. 400–300Ka.
Middle Pleistocene fossils of early (i.e., “archaic”) Homo sapiens are known from such sites as Bodo (Ethiopia), Kabwe (Zambia), Ndutu (Tanzania), and Saldanha (South Africa). Moroccan specimens from Salé, Thomas Quarries, and Sidi Abderrahman probably also represent a similar population, and some have suggested that Tighenif is an early member as well. Most of these fossils probably date between 700 and 400Ka.
Moreover, it has been argued that somewhat younger specimens from Rabat (Morocco), Lake Eyasi (Tanzania), the Kapthurin Beds at Baringo (Kenya), and possibly the Cave of Hearths (South Africa) are referable to early H. sapiens. For the most part, these fossils are associated with Acheulean artifacts, with some indications of the use of the Levallois or a comparable technique of prepared-core flaking.
Middle Pleistocene faunas, younger than 1.0Ma, have been found with H. erectus or “archaic H. sapiens” remains in Morocco at Salé, the Thomas Quarries, and Sidi Abderrahman (Littorina Cave) near Casablanca and at Tighenif (ex-Ternifine) in Algeria.
North African Acheulean sites with handaxes and/or cleavers include Sidi Abderrahman and Thomas Quarry 2 in Morocco; Tighenif (Ternifine), Tihodaine, Tachenghit, and Tabalbalat in Algeria; Sidi Zin in Tunisia; Arkin in Nubia; and Bir Sahara and Dakhla Oasis in Egypt. At Tabelbala and Tachenghit in Algeria, large sidestruck cleaver flakes were produced by an unusual prepared-core (Tachenghit, super-Levallois) technique from a thick, pointed bifacial core. As has been noted previously, Homo cf. erectus remains have been found at several of these sites.
For more than 50 years following Dubois’s initial discoveries, virtually all of the fossils attributable to H. erectus were found in eastern Asia. It was not until 1954 and 1955 that three lower jaws and a single parietal bone from Ternifine (Algeria) made it clear that the species had lived in northwestern Africa as well. The site at Ternifine (now Tighenif) consists of sands and clays stratified in a small Pleistocene lake. Stone artifacts occurring with the fossils include bifaces and cleavers, and this industry is best described as Acheulean. Evidence of H. erectus has come also from the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Fragmentary lower jaws and other specimens are known from Sidi Abderrahman, near Casablanca, and from the Thomas Quarries located nearby. The only more complete cranium from northwestern Africa was picked up near Salé in 1971. This Salé braincase is small, and it is possible that the rear of the skull has been deformed. Nevertheless, the specimen resembles H. erectus in a number of respects.
French paleontologist. Born in Algeria, Arambourg conducted the first geological and paleontological survey of the Omo region (Ethiopia) in 1933. Some 34 years later, in 1967, Arambourg led a French contingent that joined efforts with groups from the United States (led by F.C.Howell) and from Kenya (directed by L.S.B.Leakey) to inaugurate modern work in the region. This combined effort resulted in the discovery of the remains of several hundred fossil hominids, recovered between 1967 and 1974. The major focus of Arambourg’s work, however, was the prehistory of North Africa. During the 1950s he and R.I.Hoffstetter discovered, in a late Middle Pleistocene deposit at Ternifine (now known as Tighenif) near Oran (Algeria), the remains of a hominid that he later dubbed Atlanthropus mauritanicus. He was also responsible for describing the mandibular fragments found by P.Biberson at Sidi Abderrahman (Morocco) in 1954.
See also Africa, East; Biberson, Pierre; Sidi Abderrahman; Tighenif; Turkana Basin. [F.S.]
French geologist and archaeologist. Biberson’s main contribution was a long series of papers, published during the 1950s and 1960s, relating stone-tool cultures to climate and sea-level changes in the North African Pleistocene. In 1954, at Sidi Abderrahman near Casablanca (Morocco), Biberson discovered fragments of an adult hominid mandible in a stratum dated as late Middle Pleistocene. In 1955, these fragments were described by C.Arambourg, who concluded that they belonged to a form of hominid closely related to the Tighenif Homo erectus. Biberson also described the stone tools recovered from the quarry at Sidi Abderrahman, belonging to the so-called Moroccan Pebble culture.
See also Arambourg, Camille; Sidi Abderrahman; Tighenif. [F.S.]
Another partial hominid mandible, of (earlier) Tensiftian age (Arambourg and Biberson 1955, 1956; Biberson 1956) and with H. erectus features was subsequently recovered (in 1955) from Littorina cave, in the Schneider pit, at the huge Sidi Abderrahman quarry system, south-west of Casablanca (Biberson 1956, 1971). Also of younger Tensiftian age is a hominid skull cap and part of the upper jaw with several teeth. It was recovered from a quarry just north of Sale in Atlantic Morocco and the morphology is distinctively Homo erectus (Jaeger 1973, 1975a)
A left mandible, preserving several teeth and showing H. erectus morphology, particularly in the dentition, has also been recently recovered from still older continental deposits, probably of the final Amirian stage or later, in the Thomas Quarry 1, south-east of Sidi Abderrahman (Sausse 1975).1 These remains, along with the specimens from artesian lake sediments at Ternifine, near Palikao, Algeria, are the oldest known hominids and the earliest documented occurrence of Homo erectus in northern Africa
The partial mandibles from Littorina Cave, Sidi Abderrahman (Arambourg and Biberson 1955), and from Thomas Quarry 1, Casablanca, (Sausse 1975), so far as they are preserved, show features of both teeth and jaw structure which fall broadly within the range of Homo erectus.