Pradelli, Jennifer (2020) Archaeoentomology in the Central Sahara: Research into the Takarkori Archaeological Site. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The transition from hunting-gathering to food production shows distinct and different
pathways worldwide. Evidence from the Central Sahara suggests original trajectories to
the onset of early herding, largely related to fluctuating climate and environmental
conditions. Thanks to the outstanding well-preserved stratigraphy which covers from Late
Acacus to Late Pastoral period (approximately 10,200 to 4,600 cal years BP), Takarkori
archaeological site, located in southwest Libya, excavated by the Libyan Department of
Antiquities and by Sapienza University of Rome, is an enormous pool of early to middle
Holocene information. This study intends to present the first archaeoentomological
analysis performed inNorth Africa becoming a reference for future works.Methodological
issues, such as the collection and recovery methods, cleaning techniques, and identification
process, experienced during the analysis of ancient insect samples are discussed. Solutions
and innovative approaches, such as the new application of the synchrotron radiation to a
dry insect sample, have been explored and presented highlighting the great potential in
the field. Insects, such as migratory locusts, tiger moth, and termites, allowed the
reconstruction of Holocene paleoclimate confirming the progressive desertification. The
recovery of the human head louse, Pediculus humanus, and the sheep nasal botfly, Oestrus
ovis, not only confirms the re-colonisation of the area by hunters and gatherers but also
gives information about their hygiene level and the health state of their animals. In
addition, the discovery of these obligate parasites brings the opportunity to better
understand their co-evolution with their host. Takarkori is also themost ancient settlement
with traces of the housefly, Musca domestica, placing 3,000 years earlier its appearance in
close relationship with humans. Besides, flies help in interpreting the past population habits
suggesting a tendency to process meat and consume meals without properly dispose of
food waste. Several stored product pests, such as Sitophilus granarius and Dermestes
maculatus, indicate other human activities, such as the presence of seed storages and human
crafted by-products like desiccated meat or fur/wool production at the site.

The work presented identifies Archaeoentomology as a powerful and effective tool to be
used in archaeological context for the interpretation of the past.

FINAL THESIS - Pradelli.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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