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Filling Gaps in the Protohistory of the Eastern Maghreb: The Althiburos Archaeological Project (El Kef, Tunisia)

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Little is known about the Eastern Maghreb in the second and first millennia BC, except for the very last centuries when classical sources provide some information about the Numidian kingdoms. The survey and excavation of Althiburos and its surroundings have provided valuable data related to the first millennium BC. Occupation of the site dates back to the ninth or tenth century cal BC and continues into Roman times. Archaeobiological data — particularly the evidence of grape, a crop that only provides a return after several years, but thereafter produces fruit for a considerable period — suggest that the population was sedentary from the beginning, and that it probably grew throughout occupation. Iron slag is also present from the eight or tenth century cal BC. The construction of a Punic-type cistern and an impressive defensive wall indicate that the site developed into a city-like settlement by the mid-first millennium BC. While relations with Carthage may have played an important role in this process, we suggest that population growth was the main cause for sedentariness and, later, for the development of cities and the Numidian states. Other important aspects of the project include the typology and dating of pottery, the discovery of small pre-Roman habitation sites, and the dating of a small dolmen and one of the funerary mounds in the city’s surroundings.

Affiliations: 1: University of Barcelona, Department of Prehistory, Ancient History and Archaeology ; 2: Institut National du Patrimoine ; 3: Faculté des Sciences Humaines et Sociales, Université de Tunis ; 4: ICREA – Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica ; 5: University of Barcelona, Research Group for Classical, Protohistoric and Egyptian Archaeology ; 6: Faculté des Sciences Humaines et Sociales, Université de Tunis ; 7: Mon Iber Rocs, SL., Carrer Nou de Sant Oleguer ; 8: Institut Supérieur des Sciences Humaines de Tunis


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