A Look at Archeology in Algeria

Considered as a branch of anthropology, archeology is broadly defined as a study of humanity and human societies. Archeologists put in a lot of time and effort uncovering relics of the past that either prove and extend what is already known about the development of societies in various countries, or in revealing aspects of human history that have previously not been known. Algeria is a treasure trove of evidence indicating human occupation of this North African region going back to Paleolithic and Neolithic eras.

Archeological discoveries of note include a significant number of megalithic monuments in the Great Atlas region, and Mechra-Sfa peninsula of Algeria, not too far from Djelfa and Tiaret. Megaliths are large stone structures believed to have been built in the Neolithic era. These monumental structures were put together without using any type of mortar, and it is generally unclear as to what purpose they served. Stonehenge in the United Kingdom is readily recognized as being the most famous example of megaliths.

The shell-mounds of the Capsian culture discovered in the Maghreb region, which includes Algeria, date back to the Mesolithic era. The manner in which the Capsians buried their dead suggests that they had a belief in the afterlife. Decorative items, ostrich eggshell beads and seashell beads were used to make necklaces and other decorative items. Although no consensus has been reached as to their origins, linguistic historians believe that Capsians feature in the ancestry of Berber speaking North Africans. At the time the Capsian people roamed the area, likely between 8000 BC and 4000 BC, it was believed to have been a savanna region rich in wildlife. This is supported by cave paintings found in a number of places, including Tassili-n-Ajjer, located to the north of Tamanrasset. Moreover, flints from the Paleolithic era have been discovered in a number of places, including Kolea in Algeria’s Tipaza Province, and the Tlemcen Province.

Of special note to those interested in archeology and history are the mausoleums of Madghacen near Batna, and Jedars south of Tiaret. The former established as the tomb of Berber Numidian King Imadghassen who ruled between 300 and 200 BC, with the latter consisting of a group of thirteen mausoleums likely constructed between the 300 to 600 of our common era.

There are also numerous reminders of Roman rule to be found in Algeria, with fascinating ruins, monuments and archeological sites to explore. Certainly, Algeria has a lot to offer to those willing to scratch beneath the surface, and visitors will appreciate the work that archeologists have done in investigating the distant past of this intriguing North African country.