Lucinda Backwell

Lucinda Backwell
Instituto Superior de Estudios Sociales | ISES · Archaeology

PhD

About

87
Publications
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Publications

Publications (87)
Article
Full-text available
Here we present the results of a taphonomic study of the faunal assemblage associated with the hominin fossils (Australopithecus sediba) from the Malapa site. Results include estimation of body part representation, mortality profiles, type of fragmentation, identification of breakage patterns, and microscopic analysis of bone surfaces. The diversit...
Article
Full-text available
Ju/'hoan hunters from Nyae Nyae, near Tsumkwe in Namibia, demonstrate the manufacture of three fixative pastes made from plant extracts, and poison made from grubs and plant extracts. Ammocharis coranica and Terminalia sericea produce simple glue. Ozoroa schinzii latex mixed with carbonized Aristeda adscensionis grass is a compound adhesive. Compos...
Chapter
Discussion about early projectile technology typically includes criteria used to distinguish artefacts used as hafted points from those employed for other purposes, associated faunal and lithic assemblages, palaeoenvironment, age of the material, associated hominins and their cognitive capacities, criteria used to identify complex technology and co...
Article
In 2015, which marked 35 years since Beaumont had worked at the site, we renewed excavations at Border Cave. Our primary aims were to reassess the stratigraphic context of the sedimentary and cultural sequence, gain insight into site formation processes, make a detailed study of organic remains, identify long term cultural trends, and characterize...
Article
Besides providing a unique archaeological assemblage that documents the early emergence of complex behaviour in the human lineage, Border Cave (South Africa) is noteworthy for having yielded hominin remains of at least nine individuals, including the partial cranium Border Cave 1. While the exact provenance of Border Cave 1 is unknown, sequence str...
Article
Extraordinary preservation of plant remains provides an insight into the construction and materials of bedding at Border Cave, South Africa. Towards the back of the cave there are particularly thick layers of desiccated and charred grass and our botanical study is from bulk samples of these approximately 60,000 to 40,000 year-old layers (Members 3...
Article
Full-text available
RESUMEN Border Cave es una cueva ubicada en las montañas de Lebombo, en la frontera entre la región de KwaZulu-Natal (Sudáfrica) y Esuatini. Las excavaciones arqueológicas se iniciaron en 1934, se retomaron en los 70’ y el sitio vuelve a investigarse en la actualidad. Border Cave es una ventana al conocimiento de la prehistoria sudafricana debido a...
Chapter
Insects are of interest to forensic scientists, because they enable them to reconstruct length of body exposure, a subsequent sequence of decomposition events, and local environment. Relatively little attention has been paid to insects and other invertebrates as agents of bone modification. In order to rectify this, we conducted mostly laboratory e...
Article
Bone tool-use by Early Pleistocene hominins is at the centre of debates in human evolution. It is especially the case in South Africa, where 102 bone tools have been described from four Early Stone Age archaeological sites, which have yielded Oldowan and possibly Acheulean artefacts, as well as Paranthropus robustus and early Homo remains. Here we...
Article
Early plant use is seldom described in the archaeological record because of poor preservation. We report the discovery of grass bedding used to create comfortable areas for sleeping and working by people who lived in Border Cave at least 200,000 years ago. Sheaves of grass belonging to the broad-leafed Panicoideae subfamily were placed near the bac...
Article
Full-text available
This study focuses on two early Pleistocene Australopithecus sediba hominin specimens and associated fauna from Malapa, South Africa. These specimens have been interpreted as having fallen through a shaft opening into a cave, where they died and likely mummified, before being washed into a lower chamber. In order to better understand the taphonomy...
Article
Full-text available
A horncore feature was encountered during excavations at Border Cave, in Member 2 BSL, dated 60–49 ka. The basal half of the horncore lay towards the centre of a combustion feature and was calcined. The tip half lay on a mat of burnt grass bedding towards the edge of the fireplace. It was covered with a black shiny residue, which was also present o...
Article
Plant carbohydrates were undoubtedly consumed in antiquity, yet starchy geophytes were seldom preserved archaeologically. We report evidence for geophyte exploitation by early humans from at least 170,000 years ago. Charred rhizomes from Border Cave, South Africa, were identified to the genus Hypoxis L. by comparing the morphology and anatomy of an...
Article
New excavations at Border Cave use high-resolution techniques, including FT-IR, for sediment samples and thin sections of micromorphology blocks from stratigraphy. These show that sediments have different moisture regimes, both spatially and chronologically. The site preserves desiccated grass bedding in multiple layers and they, along with seeds,...
Article
New excavations at Border Cave use high-resolution techniques, including FT-IR, for sediment samples and thin sections of micromorphology blocks from stratigraphy. These show that sediments have different moisture regimes, both spatially and chronologically. The site preserves desiccated grass bedding in multiple layers and they, along with seeds,...
Article
Full-text available
The bow and arrow is thought to be a unique development of our species, signalling higher-level cognitive functioning. How this technology originated and how we identify archaeological evidence for it are subjects of ongoing debate. Recent analysis of the putative bone arrow point from Sibudu Cave in South Africa, dated to 61.7±1.5kya, has provided...
Article
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A fossilised large mammal bonebed was discovered eroding out of a gully in the Free State of South Africa. The bonebed is ~1.5 m below the modern land surface, and extends over an area 35 × 13 m. Surface scatters of stone tools occur in a 1 km radius of the site, and a large fire place associated with spirally fractured burnt bone is preserved to o...
Article
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Wonderkrater, a Middle Stone Age site in the interior of South Africa, is a spring and peat mound featuring both paleoclimatic and archaeological records. The site preserves three small MSA lithic assemblages with age estimates of 30 ka, >45 ka and 138.01±7.7 ka. Here we present results of the pollen analysis of a core retrieved from the middle of...
Article
Full-text available
The Malapa site has yielded unusually abundant and well preserved fossils of Australopithecus sediba. While some elements were found in situ during excavation, others were recovered ex situ from blocks of clastic, calcified sediments collected around the site. We have refitted the ex situ elements from Facies D, the sedimentary unit represented by...
Article
Here we present the results of a techno-functional analysis of 17 bone tools recovered from strata 6, 5 and 3 of the Palaeolithic site of Ma'anshan Cave, Guizhou Province, southern China. Stratum 6, dated to c. 35 cal kyr BP, has yielded three sharp awls. From Stratum 5, dated to c. 34 cal kyr BP, come six probable spear points, awls and a cutting...
Data
Electron microprobe analyses of spots in fragments of samples UW101-SO-31, UW101-SO-34, UW101-SO-39 and DB-1. Note that in each of the tables totals below 100% reflect volatile content or porosity of sample, or both. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.018
Data
Summary table listing surface modifications on all morphologically informative specimens. A total of 559 bone and dental specimens were examined for surface modifications. This sample includes all of the larger specimens and most of the complete elements in the collection, from both surface and excavation contexts. At low magnification (7×) most of...
Article
Full-text available
Here we provide a multiproxy record of climate change and human occupation at Wonderkrater, a spring and peat mound site situated in the interior of southern Africa. Recently extracted sediment cores yielded a number of Middle Stone Age (MSA) artefacts, prompting exploratory excavation of the sediments to understand better the geomorphology of the...
Article
Full-text available
2014. Hair morphology of some artiodactyls from southern Africa. Annals of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History 4: 26–32. We describe the scale pattern and cross-sectional morphology of the hairs of seven southern African artiodactyls: Aepyceros melampus (impala), Connochaetes taurinus (blue wildebeest), Connochaetes gnou (black wildebees...
Article
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a b s t r a c t This research focuses on scale pattern and cross sectional morphology of hair to identify an expanded sample of fossil hairs from Parahyaena brunnea coprolites from Gladysvale cave in the Sterkfontein Valley, South Africa. The coprolites are part of a brown hyaena latrine preserved in calcified cave sediment dated to the Middle Plei...
Chapter
Full-text available
Introduction: Current trends in research toward the integration of primatological and archaeological models have provided significant insight into the emergence of tool use from a multidisciplinary perspective (e.g., Wynn & McGrew 1989; van Schaik et al., 1999; Backwell & d’Errico, 2001, 2008, 2009; d’Errico et al., 2001; Mercader et al., 2002, 200...
Article
Full-text available
Recent archaeological discoveries have revealed that pigment use, beads, engravings, and sophisticated stone and bone tools were already present in southern Africa 75,000 y ago. Many of these artifacts disappeared by 60,000 y ago, suggesting that modern behavior appeared in the past and was subsequently lost before becoming firmly established. Most...
Article
Full-text available
The transition from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) to the Later Stone Age (LSA) in South Africa was not associated with the appearance of anatomically modern humans and the extinction of Neandertals, as in the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in Western Europe. It has therefore attracted less attention, yet it provides insights into patterns of t...
Article
Full-text available
Recent archaeological discoveries have revealed that pigment use, beads, engravings, and sophisticated stone and bone tools were already present in southern Africa 75,000 y ago. Many of these artifacts disappeared by 60,000 y ago, suggesting that modern behavior appeared in the past and was subsequently lost before becoming firmly established. Most...
Article
Full-text available
The transition from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) to the Later Stone Age (LSA) in South Africa was not associated with the appearance of anatomically modern humans and the extinction of Neandertals, as in the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in Western Europe. It has therefore attracted less attention, yet it provides insights into patterns of t...
Article
A few pieces of worked bone were previously reported from Sibudu, a site from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa featuring a stratigraphic sequence with pre-Still Bay, Still Bay, Howiesons Poort, post-Howiesons Poort, late and final MSA cultural horizons. Here we describe an expanded collection of worked bones, including twenty-three pieces. Technologic...
Article
While quartz is the most used dosimeter, it has been shown that feldspars provide many advantages over quartz, essentially in terms of reproducibility and sensitivity. Unfortunately, they also suffer from instability in their luminescence signal, known as anomalous fading, which leads to an underestimation in age if no correction is applied in a sp...
Article
Full-text available
Three geographically dispersed Middle and Later Stone Age cave sites in South Africa, and a Middle Stone Age cave site in Ethiopia, share a similar taphonomic signature that includes destruction of bones associated with variable forms of star shaped features, clusters of microscopically visible sub-parallel striations, edge gnawing, pits, and etchi...
Data
Full-text available
Villa et al. 2012 Border Cave SI
Article
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Article
Wonderkrater is a spring mound consisting entirely of peat in excess of 8 m thick. It has yielded a pollen record extending back over 35,000 years, which has provided one of the very few proxy climatic records for the interior of southern Africa in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. The current investigation of the morphology and sedimentology of t...
Article
The bone fragments of the Australopithecus Africanus from the dolomitic cave in the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa have been studied by the use of several spectral techniques. The aim was to establish their degree of preservation and possibilities of inferring the life conditions from them. X-ray diffraction studies revealed the transformation...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
A variety of insect taxa have been shown to modify bones with their mandibles, including the larvae of Dermestidae, Tenebrionidae, Calliphoridae, Tineidae as well as some known Families of termites, of the Order Isoptera. Bone modification criteria are well documented for a number of these taxa, largely due to the fact that such studies have a wide...
Article
An in situ fossil latrine is reported from Gladysvale Cave, South Africa. The latrine area is c. 1.5 m in observable horizontal length and varies in height with a maximum of 20 cm, indicating that deposition may have occurred over a considerable period of time. The size of individual coprolites in the latrine varies, with larger specimens > 30 mm i...
Article
Bone tools from early hominin sites in southern Africa continue to intrigue researchers interested in the development of early human technology and cognition. Sterkfontein, Swartkrans and Drimolen have all yielded bone tools dated to between 1 and 2 Mya associated with numerous Paranthropus robustus and few early Homo remains. The bone tools are de...
Article
Until now, the oldest known human hair was from a 9000-year-old South American mummy. Here we report fossil hairs of probable human origin that exceed that age by about 200,000 years. The hairs have been discovered in a brown hyaena (Parahyaena brunnea) coprolite from Gladysvale cave in South Africa. The coprolite is part of a hyaena latrine preser...
Article
Australopithecus robustus is one of the best represented hominin taxa in Africa, with hundreds of specimens recovered from six fossil localities in the Bloubank Valley area of Gauteng Province, South Africa. However, precise geochronological ages are presently lacking for these fossil cave infills. In this paper, we provide a detailed geological ba...
Article
The earliest use of bone tools is a topic of ongoing debate that concerns the criteria used to identify utilised or minimally modified bone tools, and if verified, the implications for hominid adaptation and cognition. Here we present the first description of 22 possible bone tools from the early hominid site of Drimolen (Gauteng Province, South Af...
Article
Recently discovered bone implements from Middle Stone Age (MSA) deposits at Sibudu Cave, South Africa, confirm the existence of a bone tool industry for the Howiesons Poort (HP) technocomplex. Previously, an isolated bone point from Klasies River provided inconclusive evidence. This paper describes three bone tools: two points and the end of a poli...
Chapter
Full-text available
The earliest use of bone tools is a topic of ongoing debate among researchers interested in early human culture and the emergence of modern cognition. This debate concerns the implications of bone tools for assessing hominid cognitive abilities, and the criteria one must use to firmly identify potentially used or minimally modified bone tools, such...
Chapter
Full-text available
A number of natural processes occurring during the life of an animal or after its death can produce pseudotools, mimics of human-made objects. A number of purported bone tools from Lower and Middle Palaeolithic sites have been published without any validating microscopic analysis of the bone surfaces showing possible traces of manufacture and use....
Chapter
Full-text available
Sub-Saharan Africa provides an archaeological and palaeontological record that is crucial to understanding hominid anatomical and behavioural evolution. This cradle of humanity has attracted a number of international interdisciplinary research teams in search of answers as to what made us human. Collaboration with African scientists has been partic...
Article
Full-text available
Purported early hominid bone tools from Olduvai Gorge are studied for microscopic traces of use-wear, and evidence of intentional flaking by knapping. Comparative microscopic analyses of the edges of the purported tools, and areas far from the potential functional zone, as well as edges of bone pieces from the remainder of the assemblage, show that...
Article
Full-text available
Many fossil bones from the dolomitic caves in the Cradle of Humankind are covered by brownish-black coatings of manganese dioxide and smaller amounts of iron oxide. This obscures fine details on bone surfaces, making their identification and interpretation by palaeontologists and archaeologists difficult or impossible. The use of acids to remove th...