Halfan culture

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Not to be confused with Halofantrine, which is marketed as Halfan.
Halfan culture
Geographical range Upper Egypt
Period Epipalaeolithic
Dates circa 20,000 B.C.E. — circa 12,000 B.C.E.
Preceded by Khormusan Industry
Followed by Qadan culture, Sebilian

The Halfan industry is one of the Late Epipalaeolithic industries of the Nile Valley that began to appear by 22,000 BP. It is one of the earliest known backed-bladelet industries in Eastern Africa, largely dating between 19,000 and 14,000 BP in Nubia and Egypt.[1]

The Halfan was formerly seen as the parent culture of the Ibero-Maurusian industry in the Maghreb, however, since the earliest Ibero-Maurusian is dated to ≥ 21,000 BP it is more likely that both the Halfan and the Ibero-Maurusian are descended from a common cultural ancestor. The Halfan culture is believed to have descended from the Khormusan Culture [2] [3] which depended on specialized hunting, fishing, and collecting techniques for survival.

The Halfan people survived on a diet of large herd animals and the Khormusan tradition of fishing. Greater concentrations of artifacts indicate that they were not bound to seasonal wandering, but settled for longer periods at preferred and more convenient sites from where to make short forays into their seasonal ones. The primary material remains of the Halfan culture complex are their stone tools, flakes, and a multitude of rock paintings.

The Halfan industry is characterized by three main tools: Halfa flakes, backed microflakes, and backed microblades. It is only during a transitional stage that all three occur in significant amounts, but all types do occur in every assemblage. The most general observation, is the relative proportions of flakes, microblades, and cores chosen for retouch. This reflects both the tools desired in each assemblage (i.e., Halfa flakes vs. backed microblades), and the degree of the development of the microblade technology (i.e., backed flakes vs. backed microblades).

The only type which shows a high stage of development is the Halfa core. The basic orientation of the Halfa core to opposed platforms is reflected in the number of poor opposed platform flake cores. These are never extensively utilized, and no real care has gone into their initial preparation. The Haifa core does, however, have a number of features which could lead to more generalized, yet effective, core types.

Levallois cores are present, but they are poorly made and have not received the careful attention that the Halfa cores have. In fact, the Levallois flake is merely a more generalized form of Halfa flake and as such could have been of no great value to an industry producing Halfa flakes.[4]


  1. ^ Bailey, Geoff N. and Callow, Paul (eds). Stone-Age Prehistory: Studies in Memory of Charles McBurney. Cambridge University Press, 1986. ISBN 9780521257732
  2. ^ "Prehistory of Nubia". Numibia.net. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  3. ^ Reynes, Midant-Beatrix (2000). The Prehistory of Egypt: From the First Egyptians to the First Pharohs. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-21787-8. 
  4. ^ Marks, Anthony E. The Halfan Industry. In: The Prehistory of Nubia, Fred Wendorf (ed.) Southern Methodist University Press, 1968.