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Holocene Playa Deposits of Farafra Oasis, Egypt, and Their Palaeoclimatic and Geoarchaeological Significance

F. A. Hassan,1 B. Barich,2 M. Mahmoud,3 and M. A. Hamdan4

1Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, London, WCIH OPY, United Kingdom
2University of Rome "La Sapienza," Rome, Italy
3Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt
4Cairo University, Giza, Egypt
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ABSTRACT

Archaeological sites associated with the Holocene playas in Farafra Oasis were occupied primarily by foragers. Intensive utilization of wild sorghum, originally dated to 6700 yr B.P., has now been pushed back to 7500 yr B.P. Sheep and goats, originating in the Levant, were introduced into Farafra Oasis ca. 6700 B.P. The playas were episodically sustained by surface runoff and wadi activity under wet/moist climatic conditions with frequent dry oscillations from approximately 9650 to 6000 radiocarbon yr B.P. a shift toward drier climatic conditions associated with colluvial reworking of older cultural material is evident from 7300 to 6000 yr B.P. this shift precipitated a significant change in settlement strategy. The main phase of playa formation ended ca. 6000 yr B.P. under cold conditions and increasing aridity.