University of Leicester
14 files

Use of grass seed resources c.31 ka by modern humans at the Haua Fteah cave, northeast Libya

journal contribution
posted on 2019-05-07, 13:55 authored by Huw Barton, Giuseppina Mutri, Evan Hill, Lucy Farr, Graeme Barker
The recovery of a seed grinding stone from human occupation layers dating to c.31 ka in the Haua Fteah cave on the coast of the Gebel Akhdar massif in northeast Libya sheds new light on the subsistence practices of modern humans in North Africa. An integrated study of usewear and organic residue analysis confirms the use of the tool for seed grinding. Residue analysis recovered a total of 15 starch granules that could be reliably identified as belonging to wild cereals, ten of which are identified as A-type granules of Aegilops sp. (goat grass). The results of this study show that modern humans had the capacity to identify large-seeded grasses as a potential food source, perhaps targeted during periods of resource stress, and were capable of adapting pounding and grinding technologies to solve the unique problems of seed processing to render an edible food from grasses. The findings from this research show that broad-spectrum diets involving the exploitation of wild cereals were emerging during the Late Stone Age in North Africa.


GB would like to acknowledge in particular the support of the Libyan Department of Antiquities in the development of the new fieldwork at the Haua Fteah, and the financial support of the European Research Council (Advanced Investigator Grant 230421: TRANS-NAP project: Cultural Transformations and Environmental Transitions in North African Prehistory), the Society for Libyan Studies, the Leakey Foundation, and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC Radiocarbon Facility).



Journal of Archaeological Science, 2018, 99, pp. 99-111 (13)

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of Archaeology and Ancient History


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Journal of Archaeological Science


Elsevier, Association for Environmental Archaeology





Acceptance date


Copyright date


Available date


Publisher version


The file associated with this record is under embargo until 12 months after publication, in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy. The full text may be available through the publisher links provided above.