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African Kingdoms

Early Cultures


Halfan Culture / Kubbaniyan Culture (Late Epi-Palaeolithic) (Egypt)
c.18,000 - 15,000 BC

The Halfan culture - or 'industry' to be more accurate - was a development of Africa's earlier Khormusan industry. Tool-making from the fading but extensively long-lived Aterian culture had reached ancient Egypt around 40,000 BC to generate this localised industry.

Advanced tools were developed not only from stone but also from animal bones and hematite to aid fishing and hunting along the banks of the Nile. The Halfan was centred along the Upper Nile, in an area which today is part of northern Sudan (formerly regions of Nubia). Its people continued the tradition of hunting big game animals and fishing in the Nile.

The Kubbaniyan culture (again, an industry) was to all intents and purposes the same cultural expression as the Halfan. Lasting between about 17,600-15,000 BC, it was located to the north of the Halfannorth, in Egypt itself. Both cultures have little to differentiate them from one another. The Kubbaniyan can be pinpointed to Wadi Kubbaniya, in which area twelve sites had been uncovered by 1989.

During the period in which this industry flourished, Saharan sands were gradually intruding from the north but Kubbaniyan sites were occupied, abandoned, and then reoccupied several times. The period during and after the maximum flooding of the Nile seems to have been key points for such reoccupation activity.

The Halfan has a peculiar and unexplained find zone which has been dated to about 24,000 BC, although this could be a sideways development of the Khormusan which simply seemed like later Halfan developments. Christopher Ehret proposes that the proto-Afro-Asiatic languages may have begun to spread from this area at about this time period, leading to the speculation that Halfan people may have spoken a variant of the Afro-Asiatic languages.

Both industries were succeeded by the Sebilian and Qadan cultures, although little had been added to existing tool technology which, during its course, had become more refined and specialised by its practitioners who were located along the Nile Valley.

Halfan tools

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from External Links: Stone Age Toolmakers Surprisingly Sophisticated (Science), and Palaeolithic Egypt (formerly provided by Minnesota State University but now only available via the Way Back Machine internet archive), and The Khormusan: an Upper Pleistocene industry in Sudanese Nubia (eHRAF Archaeology), and Lithic development in the Kubbaniyan (Upper Egypt), Angela E Close (Late Prehistory of the Nile Basin & Sahara, available from Heidelberg University via PDF), and Halfdan Culture (Academic), and Atuska (Pinterest).)

c.18,000 BC

The Halfan emerges along the banks of the Upper Nile, in an area which today is part of northern Sudan (formerly regions of Nubia). This culture features advanced tools which have been developed not only from stone but also from animal bones and hematite. They aid hunting and fishing expeditions along the banks of the Nile.

Within about four hundred years the highly-similar and undoubtedly related Kubbaniyan industry has also arisen. This is located to the immediate north of the Halfan region, along upper Egypt's Nile banks.

Sahara Desert
One of the earliest known backed-bladelet industries in North Africa, the Halfan of Sudan is mirrored in Egypt by the Kubbaniyan

c.15,000 BC

Little had been added to existing tool technology even though it has become more refined and specialised. Both industries - the Halfan and the Kubbaniyan - are succeeded around this point by Africa's Sebilian and Qadan cultures.

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