The Iberomaurusian ("of Iberia and Mauritania"; it was once believed that it extended into Spain) or Oranian is a backed bladelet lithic industry found throughout North Africa. Its name, meaning "of Iberia and Mauritania", is based on Pallary (1909)'s belief that it extended over the strait of Gibraltar into the Iberian peninsula, a theory now generally discounted (Garrod 1938).
Pallary (1909) originally described the industry based on material found at the site of Abri Mouillah. Because the name of the Iberomaurusian assumes a cultural contact that might not have existed, other names have been proposed, including "Mechta-Afalou", "Mouillian" and "Oranian". Yet, at least to the West of Libya, none of these terms have supplanted what already in 1963, Tixier called the "deplorable and deplored term of 'Iberomaurusian'".:95 The term "Oranian" has become popular in Libya, where sites are described as "eastern Oranian" (where "western Oranian", which is not used, would be what in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia is called Iberomaurusian).
Recent fieldwork indicates that the Iberomaurusian culture existed in the region from around the timing of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), at 23,950 BP, until the Younger Dryas (~10,000). The industry is succeeded by the Capsian culture in the east, which was originally thought to have spread into the Tamazgha from the Near East. However, later studies suggest that the Iberomaurusian may have been the progenitors of the Capsian.
Although modern populations in the Tamazgha speak languages belonging to the Afro-Asiatic family, which was associated with the Capsian culture, it has been hypothesized that the Capsians' predecessors, the Iberomaurusians, may have spoken a language(s) from a different phylum. This was inferred from the likelihood that the Iberomaurusians existed prior to the advent of the Proto-Afro-Asiatic language, as well as from the presence of what appears to be an older, pre-Afro-Asiatic population substratum in parts of the Atlas Mountains. Despite suggestions that this minor element may be related to the Basques of Southwestern Europe, there appear to be no vestiges of a Basque linguistic influence in the region.
In 2013, Iberomaurusian skeletons from the prehistoric sites of Taforalt and Afalou were analyzed for ancient DNA. All of the specimens belonged to maternal clades associated with either North Africa or the northern and southern Mediterranean littoral, indicating gene flow between these areas since the Epipaleolithic. The ancient Taforalt individuals carried the mtDNA Haplogroup N subclades like U6, H, JT and V, which points to population continuity in the region dating from the Iberomaurusian period. In 2016 it has been identified mtDNA haplogroups H or U, T2b, JT or H14b1, J, J1c3f, H1, R0a1a, R0a2c, H2a1e1a, H2a2a1, H6a1a8, H14b1, U4a2b, U4c1, U6d3.
Loosdrecht et al. (2018) analysed genome-wide data from seven ancient individuals from the Iberomaurusian Grotte des Pigeons site near Taforalt in eastern Morocco. The fossils were directly dated to between 15,100 and 13,900 calibrated years before present. The scientists found that five male specimens with sufficient nuclear DNA preservation belonged to the paternal haplogroup E1b1b1a1 (M78), with one skeleton bearing the E1b1b1a1b1 parent lineage to E-V13, one male specimen belonged to E1b1b(M215*). These Y-DNA clades are closely related to the E1b1b1b (M123) subhaplogroup that has been observed in skeletal remains belonging to the Epipaleolithic Natufian and Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures of the Levant. Maternally, the Taforalt remains bore the U6a and M1b mtDNA haplogroups, which are common among modern Afroasiatic-speaking populations in Africa. A two-way admixture scenario using Natufian and modern West African samples as reference populations inferred that the seven Taforalt individuals bore 63.5% Natufian-related and 36.5% West African-related ancestries, with no apparent gene flow from the Epigravettian culture of Paleolithic southern Europe. The scientists indicated that further ancient DNA testing at other Iberomaurusian archaeological sites would be necessary to determine whether the Taforalt samples were representative of the broader Iberomaurusian gene pool. Since the Natufian samples, which are chronologically younger than the Taforalt samples by several thousands of years, were inferred to lack substantial African ancestry, the researchers also hypothesized that a Maghreb center of evolution for the Natufian-related ancestry could only be plausible if the admixture that was inferred for the Taforalt individuals either occurred after the population ancestral to the Natufians had moved into the Levant or if that admixture event was a locally-confined phenomenon at the Taforalt site.