Finds in the Kharga Oasis


    AT the British Museum, exhibits from the Libyan Desert have been arranged at the head of the main staircase, primarily for the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences which is being held on July 30-Aug. 4, but the exhibition will remain open until the autumn. Under the auspices of the Royal Anthropological Institute, the expedition was conducted by Miss Caton-Thompson, the geological work being undertaken by Miss E. W. Gardner. The oasis is an area below the general level of the desert about 120 miles west of Thebes and 400 miles from the Mediterranean; and the most prolific sites on the floor of the Depression were fossil springs, which forced up sands and clays and formed mounds with the help of vegetation, such as palms and reeds. The mounds contain St. Acheul types of flint implements, with Aterian (Upper Palaeolithic) after an interval. There is a general likeness to specimens from Palestine, and typical Levallois artifacts include several plunging flakes. The remarkable gloss, like porcelain, on many hand-axes is here accounted for by the friction of sand-charged water. On the scarp of the Depression Tufa deposits have yielded a number of flint implements ranging from St. Acheul to a phase preceding the Sebilian of the Nile Valley. The deposits include three species of fig, with land and freshwater shells all of living species. The rainfall can be studied from the combined evidence; and the exhibits include specimens of raw material roughly shaped, a fine series of arrow-heads from the surface, and contemporary beads of ostrich egg-shell. Finally, there is an object-lesson in patination, flints of a single culture showing at least three kinds of surface alteration.

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    Finds in the Kharga Oasis. Nature 134, 135 (1934).

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