Kathleen Kuman

Kathleen Kuman
University of the Witwatersrand | wits · Faculty of Science

Doctor of Philosophy

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97
Publications
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Publications

Publications (97)
Article
Full-text available
Sterkfontein is the most prolific single source of Australopithecus fossils, the vast majority of which were recovered from Member 4, a cave breccia now exposed by erosion and weathering at the landscape surface. A few other Australopithecus fossils, including the StW 573 skeleton, come from subterranean deposits [T. C. Partridge et al. , Science 3...
Article
New research in recent years has enriched our understanding of the spatio-temporal distribution of Large Cutting Tool (LCT) technology in Paleolithic China. Yet, few studies have focused on hominid social behaviors, and by analyzing LCTs from the Baise Basin in southern China, this case study aims to clarify some of these strategies for the region....
Article
Full-text available
The earliest South African hominids (humans and their ancestral kin) belong to the genera Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and Homo, with the oldest being a ca. 3.67 million-year-old nearly complete skeleton of Australopithecus (StW 573) from Sterkfontein Caves. This skeleton has provided, for the first time in almost a century of research, the full...
Article
The StW 573 skeleton of Australopithecus prometheus from Sterkfontein Member 2 is some 93% complete and thus by far the most complete member of that genus yet found. Firmly dated at 3.67 Ma, it is one of the earliest specimens of its genus. A crucial aspect of interpretation of locomotor behaviour from fossil remains is an understanding of the pala...
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A review of the Oldowan in Africa
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encyclopedia paper reviewing Acheulean in Africa
Article
The Early Pleistocene site of Swartkrans in South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site has been significant for our understanding of the evolution of both early Homo and Paranthropus, as well as the earliest archaeology of southern Africa. Previous attempts to improve a faunal age estimate of the earliest deposit, Member 1, had produced...
Article
The ever-growing use of the landmarks-based 3D geometric morphometric approach in Paleolithic studies is providing researchers with robust datasets that facilitate the interpretation of new research questions that cannot be explored using traditional planform measurements. Here, we utilize this method to investigate the shape of the Large Cutting T...
Article
The ca. 3.67 Ma adult skeleton known as ‘Little Foot’ (StW 573), recovered from Sterkfontein Member 2 breccia in the Silberberg Grotto, is remarkable for its morphology and completeness. Preservation of clavicles and scapulae, including essentially complete right-side elements, offers opportunities to assess morphological and functional aspects of...
Article
The mainstream school of human evolution posits that Homo erectus was the earliest species to leave Africa at ∼1.85 million years (Ma) ago. Recent discoveries from the Shangchen loess-palaeosol sequence near the Lantian hominid site in northern China, however, show lithic artifacts up to 2.12 Ma, pre-dating the fossil record of H. erectus. Here we...
Article
Ever since the first discovery of handaxes in the 1970s in the Baise (Bose) Basin in South China, this region has been providing important data that have improved our understanding of Large Cutting Tool (LCT) technology in China. However, presently there are still some obvious shortfalls in our understanding of this very significant cultural paleol...
Article
The Fauresmith was a term first coined by archaeologists in the 1920s to describe a cultural development intermediate between the Earlier and Middle Stone Ages. From the late 1960s, many researchers abandoned the term in favor of sinking the Fauresmith within the Later Acheulean. More recently, however, some have supported the idea of the Fauresmit...
Article
There is increasing evidence that confirms the existence of the Acheulean Techno-complex at sites in Southeast and East Asia, especially for its earliest appearance at ~0.8 Ma; however, these Acheulean sites are characterized by significantly low lithic densities and infrequent Large Cutting Tools (LCTs) (e.g. sites in the Bose Basin). Various hypo...
Article
Full-text available
Functional morphology of the atlas reflects multiple aspects of an organism’s biology. More specifically, its shape indicates patterns of head mobility, while the size of its vascular foramina reflects blood flow to the brain. Anatomy and function of the early hominin atlas, and thus, its evolutionary history, are poorly documented because of a pau...
Article
Here we present the first full anatomical description of the 3.67 million-year-old Australopithecus skull StW 573 that was recovered with its skeleton from the Sterkfontein Member 2 breccia in the Silberberg Grotto. Analysis demonstrates that it is most similar in multiple key morphological characters to a group of fossils from Sterkfontein Member...
Article
The Sterkfontein Caves is currently the world's richest Australopithecus-bearing site. Included in Sterkfontein's hominin assemblage is StW 573 ('Little Foot'), a near-complete Australopithecus skeleton discovered in Member 2 in the Silberberg Grotto. Because of its importance to the fossil hominin record, the geological age of StW 573 has been the...
Article
Due to its completeness, the A.L. 288-1 (‘Lucy’) skeleton has long served as the archetypal bipedal Australopithecus. However, there remains considerable debate about its limb proportions. There are three competing, but not necessarily mutually exclusive, explanations for the high humerofemoral index of A.L. 288-1: (1) a retention of proportions fr...
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Full-text available
The period approximating 100 ka relates to Middle Paleolithic or Middle Stone Age technological behaviors that are generally characterized by prepared core technology, an expanding range of retouched tools, and the novel exploitation and sourcing of raw materials. As opposed to other regions of the world, the technological features of this period i...
Article
One of the most crucial debates in human paleoneurology concerns the timing and mode of the emergence of the derived cerebral features in the hominin fossil record. Given its exceptional degree of preservation and geological age (i.e., 3.67 Ma), StW 573 (‘Little Foot’) has the potential to shed new light on hominin brain evolution. Here we present...
Preprint
Due to its completeness, the A.L. 288-1 (Lucy) skeleton has long served as the archetypal bipedal Australopithecus . However, there remains considerable debate about its limb proportions. There are three competing, but not necessarily mutually exclusive, explanations for the high humerofemoral index of A.L. 288-1: (1) a retention of proportions fro...
Preprint
Here we present the first full anatomical description of the 3.67 million-year-old Australopithecus skull StW 573 that was recovered with its skeleton from the Sterkfontein Member 2 breccia in the Silberberg Grotto. Analysis demonstrates that it is most similar in multiple key morphological characters to a group of fossils from Sterkfontein Member...
Preprint
The Sterkfontein Caves has an 80 year history of yielding remarkable evidence of hominin evolution and is currently the world's richest Australopithecus-bearing site. Included in Sterkfontein's hominin assemblage is StW 573 (Little Foot). Discovered in the Member 2 deposit in the Silberberg Grotto, StW 573 represents the most complete Australopithe...
Preprint
Full-text available
(300 words) StW 573, from Sterkfontein Member 2, dated ca 3.67 Ma, is by far the most complete skeleton of an australopith to date. Joint morphology is in many cases closely matched in available elements of Australopithecus anamensis ( eg. proximal and distal tibial and humeral joint-surfaces) and there are also close similarities to features of th...
Article
As a characteristic component of the Acheulean Complex that is particularly significant in understanding the technological behaviour of early hominids, handaxes have been extensively discussed for a very long time. However, the fundamental question of temporal trends in handaxe technology is still debated in current research. To contribute to the f...
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The East Asian Acheulean is often considered distinct from African and European Acheulean technologies as large cutting tools (LCTs) are thicker and heavier on average. This distinction is generally true, but exceptions occur, particularly in thickness, as more Chinese sites are reported. It has been suggested that the raw materials available in Ea...
Article
Lingjing, located in northern China, is an open-air spring site dated to∼90–125 ka through Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dating. Two late archaic human crania, which possess a mosaic of features indicative of both eastern Eurasian and Neanderthal ancestry, were excavated from the site, along with abundant animal fossils and stone artifact...
Article
Progress in research on the different handaxe-bearing regions of China is making study of the Acheulean a dynamic field in the Chinese Palaeolithic. Given the separate history of these developments, in this paper we integrate the latest achievements in the four key Acheulean regions in China (namely, Dingcun, Bose, Luonan and Danjiangkou Reservoir...
Article
In this paper, we document two new Acheulean sites located in alluvial terraces bordering the lower Sundays River, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. These terraces have been the subject of geomorphological studies in the past, and most recently they have been dated using the cosmogenic nuclide burial method (Erlanger et al. 2012; Granger et al....
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Full-text available
Sizable assemblages of Early Pleistocene stone tools are very rare from Cradle of Humankind sites. Renewed excavations at Cooper's D have resulted in the recovery of 49 stone artefacts. We report on the newly-recovered stone tools from Cooper's and make comparisons with the Early Pleistocene assemblages from the two major Cradle sites, Sterkfontein...
Article
Our understanding of the South African Acheulean is heavily biased towards sites located in the interior of the country, namely in the Cradle of Humankind and those located along the Vaal and Orange Rivers. Although these sites have contributed significantly to our understanding of this complex tradition, our interpretations are often limited due t...
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Full-text available
Prepared core technology illustrates in-depth planning and the presence of a mental template during the core reduction process. This technology is, therefore, a significant indicator in studying the evolution of abstract thought and the cognitive abilities of hominids. Here, we report on Victoria West cores excavated from the Canteen Kopje site in...
Article
The exploration of techniques used to produce large flakes has long been a focus in Acheulean studies, especially from an experimental perspective. In this study we develop an experimental methodology to analyze Acheulean materials from the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region (DRR) in central China. The results show that large flakes experimentally produc...
Article
Full-text available
Qiliting is an Early to Middle Pleistocene open-air site sealed within Vermiculated Laterite and Xiashu Loess in Zhejiang Province, southeast China. Based on palaeomagnetic work at this site and stratigraphic comparisons, the position of the artifacts in the Xiashu Loess indicates that human activities occurred in an upper cultural layer ca 0.30–0....
Article
Full-text available
South Africa has a rich record of Acheulean sites, but the Early Acheulean is thus far limited to a handful of secondary context sites. These are in the Cradle of Humankind (ca 1.7 to 1.0 Ma) in Gauteng Province in the northeast and in two site complexes in the Northern Cape Province in the interior of the country. This paper describes the typology...
Article
In this paper we report on Longgudong, an Early Pleistocene cave site in south China which was systematically excavated in 1999 and 2000, and where human teeth and associated stone artifacts were discovered within the same stratigraphic layer. The age of this site was estimated from faunal comparisons and palaeomagnetism and has been attributed to...
Article
We describe 14 hominin teeth and tooth fragments excavated recently from Swartkrans Cave (South Africa). The fossils derive from Members 1 (Lower Bank) and 3, from the Member 2/3 interface and from two deposits not yet assigned to member (the “Talus Cone Deposit” and the “Underground North Excavation” [UNE]) of the Swartkrans Formation, and include...
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Full-text available
The Rietputs 15 site near Windsorton (Northern Cape, South Africa) has recently gained attention as the first Early Acheulean site in South Africa to be dated with an absolute rather than relative method (Gibbon et al., 2009). A large assemblage from Pit 5 has a cosmogenic nuclide burial age of 1.31 ± 0.21 Ma. In addition to the Early Acheulean han...
Article
Canteen Kopje, situated in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, has two main archaeological deposits: alluvial gravels and a mantle of overlying fine sediments known locally as the “Hutton Sands.” This paper focuses on the fine sediments, the three industries contained within them, and the interface with the underlying gravels in an attempt...
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Full-text available
The Hoabinhian is the most representative technocomplex in Southeast Asian prehistory for the later hunter–gatherer period. As a mainland technology based exclusively on seasonal tropical environments, this core-tool culture was previously defined in northern Vietnam in 1932 and characterized originally by its large, flat and long, largely unifacia...
Article
The Danjiangkou Reservoir Region (DRR) in central China has been studied since 1994 and is known for its Large Cutting Tools (LCTs), with similarities to both western and south Asian LCTs of the Acheulean industrial complex. However, the origins of LCT technology in China is a much debated topic. In this paper, we address several of the major argum...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents an approach to analyzing the reduction intensity of handaxes with the aid of 3D scanning technology. Two quantitative reduction indices, the Scar Density Index (SDI) and the Flaked Area Index (FAI), are applied to handaxes from the third terrace of the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region (DRR), central China, dated to the Middle Pleist...
Article
In this paper, we present a three-dimensional (3D) quantitative approach to measure the degree of symmetry of handaxes from the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region (DRR), central China. Our analysis provides not only information on the bilateral symmetry, as most previous studies have done, but also on the symmetry of the profile view. The results show th...
Article
Full-text available
The cave infills at Sterkfontein contain one of the richest assemblages of Australopithecus fossils in the world, including the nearly complete skeleton StW 573 (‘Little Foot’) in its lower section, as well as early stone tools in higher sections. However, the chronology of the site remains controversial owing to the complex history of cave infilli...
Article
The presence of Acheulean tool types (e.g. handaxes and cleavers) in East Asia has recently attracted considerable attention. They challenge the long lasting concept that the Early Palaeolithic in East Asia is characterized only by Mode 1 technology, and they reflect the diversity and complexity of Palaeolithic culture during hundreds of thousands...
Article
Handaxe-bearing sites in China are currently known to occur in a number of alluvial basins, the best known being Dingcun, Bose and Luonan. Bose in the south and Luonan in central China on the northern margin of the Qinling Mountains are most familiar to English-speaking researchers. Here we document the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region (DRR) as another...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we report on a re-examination of the morphological variability of East Asian handaxes through study of handaxes from sites generally considered to be Middle Pleistocene in age and by carrying out detailed small-scale comparisons. In particular, we add data for a new handaxe assemblage found in the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region, cent...
Article
Stone Age sites that demonstrate long sequences of occupation that span the Earlier through to the Later Stone Age are uncommon in southern Africa. The site of Kudu Koppie, in the Mapungubwe National Park of Limpopo Province, South Africa has evidence for extended and intense occupation by prehistoric populations in the context of a talus slope dep...
Article
Current research on Large Cutting Tools (LCTs) in East Asia, mainly China and South Korea, has provided some new interpretations for the “Acheulean” in this region. In one of the most influential interpretations, Norton and colleagues have argued that the Movius Line sensu stricto can be replaced by the Movius Line sensu lato based on several key o...
Article
Shuidonggou (SDG) has long been recognized as the type site complex for the Chinese Late Paleolithic, as defined by the presence of blade technology and by its chronology. Recent field and laboratory research conducted in the past decade has revealed the presence of Paleolithic ornaments and two different technological components of an industry equ...
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Full-text available
This research presents the stratigraphie analysis of the fossil and artefact-bearing Name Chamber deposits at Sterkfontein, in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, South Africa. Two allogenic deposits have filled into the Name Chamber and formed four talus slopes documenting a long history of sediment movement through the Sterkfontein cave...
Article
The Hackthorne 1 site (southern Tuli Basin, South Africa) is situated on a sand-covered plateau adjacent to the Limpopo River Valley. Although the site is well known for its Stone Age archaeology, the past environmental contexts (particularly sedimentological/geomorphological) are not well known. We examine the Hackthorne sand grain surface texture...
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Taphonomic data are presented for a bone assemblage composed of the remains of seven baboons killed and eaten by wild leopards in Mapungubwe National Park (South Africa). Mortality and sex distributions of the sample meet theoretical expectations of a leopard-produced assemblage and skeletal part patterning, as well as gross patterns of bone modifi...
Article
Landscape-scale archaeological investigations were undertaken of the spatial distribution of artefacts over a small plateau adjacent to the Limpopo River in northern South Africa. Alluvial gravels eroding from the plateau terrace deposits were used by late Earlier, Middle and Later Stone Age peoples for raw materials. Results indicate that artefact...
Article
Cover sand is ubiquitous across much of northern South Africa, yet few areas have been geomorphologically investigated. Cover sands at the Hackthorne 1 Stone Age site, southern Tuli Basin, provide an opportunity to investigate the granulometry and geomorphology of artifact-bearing sands overlying weathered, calcretized Miocene alluvial deposits. Co...
Article
Kudu Koppie is a stratified late Earlier Stone Age and Middle Stone Age archaeological site located in the northern Limpopo Province of South Africa. The prepared core reduction strategies are described and temporal trends across the ESA–MSA boundary are presented. The prepared cores and endproducts of Kudu Koppie suggest that both the late ESA and...
Article
Full-text available
During construction of the new public interpretive centre at Maropeng for Gauteng Province's Cradle of Humankind early hominid sites, Early Pleistocene stone tools were unearthed from deposits now occupied by the marketplace and museum. Sealed between two thick clay-dominated colluvial deposits is a residual lag horizon which bears the artefacts. T...
Article
In the Mapungubwe National Park, near the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers along South Africa's northernmost borders with Botswana and Zimbabwe, the site of Kudu Koppie is characterized by three lithologically and archaeologically distinct Stone Age units. From bottom to the top, these units are: (1) the Lower Kudu Koppie Unit (LKKU), wh...
Article
We report on new research at Swartkrans Cave, South Africa, that provides evidence of two previously unrealized artifact- and fossil-bearing deposits. These deposits underlie a speleothem dated by the uranium-thorium disequilibrium technique to 110,000 ± 1,980 years old, the first tightly constrained, geochronological date available for the site. R...