Fig 1 - uploaded by Neil Rusch
Content may be subject to copyright.
Map of South Africa showing Klasies River and Matjes River sites

Map of South Africa showing Klasies River and Matjes River sites

Source publication
Article
Full-text available
This paper describes possible sound-producing artefacts from two Later Stone Age deposits in the southern Cape, South Africa. Implements previously described as a 'wirra wirra' or 'pendant' from Klasies River main site (KRM), a 'woer woer' or 'bullroarer' and four 'pendants' from Matjes River (MR) are analysed and their sound producing qualities as...

Contexts in source publication

Context 1
... bone artefacts that morphologically resemble bullroarers and spinning disks have been found in the Later Stone Age layers from Klasies River main site (KRM) and Matjes River (MR) in the southern Cape ( Fig. 1) (Singer and Wymer, 1982;Louw, 1960). Singer and Wymer (1982: 127) say of the KRM implement "It was unfortunately broken in the course of excavation, but it was broken in such a way that we were able to reconstruct. It is made on a flat bone, probably part of a rib, tapering to a rounded point at both ends and having two small ...
Context 2
... in the literature (see Bradfield, 2015 for a summary). The low-powered microscope allows for tools to be freely manipulated under magnification and is useful for establishing whether and where use-wear is present on a tool's surface. The detailed characterisation of that wear is then achieved under high-power, typically at 100x magnification. Fig. 12 shows some of the use-wear that developed on the spinning disk replicas after being spun with different threads. Of the five replicas, all of which were spun by hand, the most pronounced use-wear was produced by hemp thread and moistened rawhide (Figs. 12B and D). Use-wear consisted of mild surface deformations in the form of rounding ...
Context 3
... of that wear is then achieved under high-power, typically at 100x magnification. Fig. 12 shows some of the use-wear that developed on the spinning disk replicas after being spun with different threads. Of the five replicas, all of which were spun by hand, the most pronounced use-wear was produced by hemp thread and moistened rawhide (Figs. 12B and D). Use-wear consisted of mild surface deformations in the form of rounding and indeterminate polish, roughly commensurate with Mărgărit's (2016) second stage of bead wear. In no cases was it possible for us to identify the string material based on the characteristics of the polish, as it was not sufficiently well developed. The placement ...
Context 4
... of mild surface deformations in the form of rounding and indeterminate polish, roughly commensurate with Mărgărit's (2016) second stage of bead wear. In no cases was it possible for us to identify the string material based on the characteristics of the polish, as it was not sufficiently well developed. The placement of use-wear is shown in Fig. 13. Wear appears to be concentrated primarily on the left lateral edges. The archaeological artefact from Matjes River (MR 5135) displayed minimal rounding on the left outer lateral (Figs. ...
Context 5
... us to identify the string material based on the characteristics of the polish, as it was not sufficiently well developed. The placement of use-wear is shown in Fig. 13. Wear appears to be concentrated primarily on the left lateral edges. The archaeological artefact from Matjes River (MR 5135) displayed minimal rounding on the left outer lateral (Figs. ...
Context 6
... invasiveness of the wear differed between specimens. Fig. 14 shows the use-wear that (Fig. 16E) and 2) ochre powder slightly behind the outer rim of the perforation (Fig. ...
Context 7
... invasiveness of the wear differed between specimens. Fig. 14 shows the use-wear that (Fig. 16E) and 2) ochre powder slightly behind the outer rim of the perforation (Fig. ...
Context 8
... invasiveness of the wear differed between specimens. Fig. 14 shows the use-wear that (Fig. 16E) and 2) ochre powder slightly behind the outer rim of the perforation (Fig. ...
Context 9
... 39 displayed poorly developed indeterminate use-wear behind the outer rim in the upper sector of the perforation (Fig. 16H); no other use-wear was visible on this artefact. Compared to the machine-spun replica of this artefact, there was less use-wear coverage and a complete absence of use-wear along the lateral edges. ...
Context 10
... centrifugal force acting on the bone during spinning, it is unlikely to experience friction with the string in the same manner as a hanging pendant except during the brief periods of winding up and winding down when the wobble effect would likely result in the string contacting the lateral sectors of the perforation more than the upper sector. Fig. 17 presents a schematic of typical use-wear locations of spinning discs and pendants worn as body ornaments. In a sample of artefacts of unknown function, we can therefore expect use-wear concentrations in certain areas to indicate specific ...
Context 11
... thus aided transition into the spirit realm where relations with spirits-of-the-dead could be negotiated. With respect to the 'disorienting' effect of low frequencies, mentioned above, we should note that of the four pendants examined it was the one with the lowest frequencies which had use-wear consistent with its use as an aerophone bullroarer (Fig. ...

Similar publications

Article
Full-text available
Rainfall trend analysis has been of major focus in the past century because of the attention given to climate change by the science and engineering community. According to some latest studies, rainfall is one of the main parameters in any catchment which plays a significant role in flood frequency, flood control as well as water resources planning...
Article
Full-text available
Numerous eucalypts (species in the genera Eucalyptus, Angophora and Corymbia) have been introduced to South Africa over the past two centuries. Several species have become naturalized or invasive and are the focus of control programmes. Because many eucalypts are difficult to identify in the field, the distribution patterns of many species in the c...
Article
Full-text available
South Africa’s Still Bay technocomplex (77–70 ka) is an early example of a technological system organised around the production of bifacial points. Noting the diversity of raw materials used and the frequency of non-local raw materials found among excavated bifacial point assemblages, numerous researchers have argued that Still Bay foragers were hi...

Citations

... She recognized that purposeful sound-making activities could help generate group cohesion and synchronization and would have formed a fundamental facet of human cognitive and social development. In a recent experimental study that re-examined the Klasies River and Matjes River perforated bones, the researchers found that both artifacts could produce sound when spun in the manner of a woer woer (Kumbani et al. 2019). Spinning resulted in polish and surface deformation use-wear concentrating along the lateral edge of the perforations, contrary to what is seen on bone pendants, where use-wear concentrates on the upper margin of the perforation and the inner face of the bone (cf. ...
... Included in the study were several perforated pieces of bone previously thought to have been worn as pendants (Fig. 3). Use-wear analysis of these artifacts demonstrated that at least one was used as a spinning disc to produce sound (Kumbani et al. 2019), thus highlighting the contribution of use-wear research and stressing the need to re-assess bone tools that have been previously glossed over. ...
... The acoustic quality of these instruments match those of modern spinning discs or bullroarers (Rusch 2017), and when played together in a cave or rockshelter, would have produced an impressive sound, similar to the roaring of waves or the buzzing of a swarm of bees (Kirby 2013;Kumbani et al. 2019;Rusch 2017). Spinning discs were used by the |Xam for manipulating bees (Bleek and Lloyd 1911, p. 354-355;Frisbie 1971), while among the Ju|'hoansi of Namibia, the woer woer is played during initiation ceremonies and is associated with mythical creatures (England 1995). ...
Article
Full-text available
I review five “vanished technologies” from southern Africa that have been brought to light through use-wear studies of bone tools. Most of the examples discussed here represent the first recognition of these technologies in the region and provide unique insights into the technological and behavioral repertoires of past humans and hominins. Hominin foraging and subsistence practices are inferred from the use-wear patterns on modified bones from four sites in the Cradle of Humankind. Early evidence for bow-and-arrow technology comes from Sibudu Cave and Klasies River Main site, with the evidence from the latter site extending the known distribution of this technology farther south. Use-wear has shown that modified bones, thought to have been pendants, were used in a manner more consistent with the production of sound and likely represent early musical instruments. In a similar vein, use-wear has shown that several bone points, conventionally interpreted as arrowheads, were used for domestic activities, such as making reed mats or baskets. Among some of the earliest state-level societies in southern Africa, the presence of bone hoes attests to the practice of small-scale garden agriculture, placing greater emphasis on individual agency within these complex societies. Use-wear studies continue to highlight the absurdity of attributing function based on shape.
... Putative musical instruments made from bone are found in Stone Age contexts throughout the world (Van Beek 1989;Morley 2005;Ibáñez et al. 2015;Dietrich & Notroff 2016). Most recently, perforated bone aerophones were identified from Later Stone Age deposits at Klasies River Main site (KRM) and Matjes River rock shelter on the Southern Cape coast, South Africa (Kumbani et al. 2019). These aerophones are similar to ones found in Natufian contexts in Israel, and were also initially mistaken for pendants (cf. ...
... Despite this, no certainty has been expressed about the exact function of the notched bones, with the use-wear results consistent with a range of possible functions. The recent discovery of musical instruments at KRM and the nearby site of Matjes River (Kumbani et al. 2019), which had for many years gone unrecognised, prompted our interest in the KRM notched bones. Specifically, we were interested in testing the hypothesis that the notched bones may have functioned as sound-producing rasps. ...
Article
Full-text available
The recent publication of previously unrecognised musical instruments from two South African Later Stone Age deposits has prompted us to relook at some of the bone tools from Klasies River Main site (KRM). Notched bones are enigmatic artefacts found throughout the world and attributed diverse functions, including sound-producing instruments. We re-analyse the three pieces of notched bone from Klasies River Main site for use-traces that may indicate their use as musical rasps. Although we find no evidence to support their use as rasps, the use-wear and ancient starch residues suggest a complicated use history in which several activities may be implicated. While Francesco d'Errico's original interpretation of their use as skin abraders still stands as plausible, we conclude that the presence of quantities of ancient starch grains, coupled with the absence of ancient animal residues, implicates their use in some kind of plant processing activity, either exclusively or in addition to other uses.
... Bullroarers are free aerophones that produce a strong whirring pulsating sound when the oblong slat of wood, bone or stone are whirled through the air above the head or in front of the body on a length of cord or string (Fletcher et al., 2002;Roger & Aubert, 2006). This type of aerophone's long history reaches back into the Upper Palaeolithic and Epi Palaeolithic of Europe and Scandinavia (Morley, 2013;Trehub et al., 2015;Kumbani et al., 2019). In South Africa, only one plausible archaeological free aerophone bullroarer has to date been recovered (Louw, 1960;Kumbani et al., 2019). ...
... This type of aerophone's long history reaches back into the Upper Palaeolithic and Epi Palaeolithic of Europe and Scandinavia (Morley, 2013;Trehub et al., 2015;Kumbani et al., 2019). In South Africa, only one plausible archaeological free aerophone bullroarer has to date been recovered (Louw, 1960;Kumbani et al., 2019). This Later Stone age example was made of bone and was excavated at Matjes River (MR) in the southern Cape ( Fig. 1), from Layer C with dates ranging between circa (ca.) 9500 and 5 400 years before present (BP) (Protsch & Oberholzer, 1975: 40, see also Sealy et al, 2006: 99). ...
... The acoustical qualities and frequency range of previous aerophone replications (Rusch, 2017;Kumbani et al., 2019) bear strongly on the instruments replicated and recorded for this experiment. We compare the dimensions and sounds of these replicas to the replicas of the Doring River painting aerophones. ...
Article
The archaeological record of the Upper and Epi Paleolithic has produced several objects with sound-producing potential of the aerophone type, interpreted as bullroarers. Recently a similar implement was identified in the Later Stone Age of the southern Cape, in the Matjes River Wilton layers. In this paper we present a depiction from the Cederberg showing a group of eight human figures, each playing what morphologically resembles bullroarer aerophones. Using digital image recovery techniques we could ascertain sufficient detail to replicate these instruments and record their sound. Using the same digital methods we conclude that the group scene is a palimpsest of two painting events, thematically and spatially connected although separated in time. The sound-producing qualities of the replicated instruments are assessed through actualistic and experimental research. Results are evaluated with reference to our earlier analysis of ethnographic and archaeological aerophone models recovered in the region. In previous work we linked ASC (altered states of consciousness) and ESA (enhanced states of association) to the sounds created by aerophones. In this study we consider aspects of topography and landscape, contextualized within a time-frame provided by the archaeology of the Doring River valley and environs. We suggest that the painting and the sound-making depicted is most likely related to ‘working with rain’, an intervention aimed at influencing !Khwa and the hydrology in the arid Karoo region.
... A spinning disk (KK 058) from a San group at Haruchas, Namibia, was collected in 1932 by Kirby and now forms part of the Kirby collection at the South African College of Music of the University of Cape Town (Figure 4). KK 058 was also part of the actualistic study undertaken by Kumbani et al. (2019). When spun by hand its frequency ranged from 57 Hz to 200 Hz, most probably spinning faster than the Klasies River example because of its smaller size (Kumbani et al. 2019: 702). ...
... In overall shape, bullroarers resemble pendants (Ludwig 2005) and spatulas (Dietrich and Notroff 2016). Kumbani et al. (2019) investigated whether artefacts termed 'pendants' from Matjes River Layer C could have functioned as bullroarers. Spinning replicas of the pendants resulted in microscopically visible use-wear developing on the lateral sides of the perforations, but this was apparent on only one of the four archaeological artefacts examined (MR 40) with the others having use-wear restricted to the top, similar to that found on ethnographic pendants made of peccary canines that form part of the so-called Bará necklace (Falci et al. 2018: 782). ...
Article
This paper discusses archaeological evidence of sound- and music-related artefacts from the southern African archaeological record, from Later Stone Age, Iron Age and historic contexts. The artefacts described fall within two groups, aerophones and idiophones. They include a bullroarer, spinning disks, bone tubes that might have been used as flutes, a trumpet, whistles, bells and mbira keys. The artefacts are made of bone, clay and metal. Original research and information gained through a literature review are reported. Ethnographic sources were also consulted in order to attempt to provide a broader contextual background against which knowledge of the archaeological implements could be expanded. This research is one of the first reports on southern African sound- and music-related artefacts. It is not exhaustive, but is intended as the basis for further development through collaboration.