Lyn Wadley

Lyn Wadley
University of the Witwatersrand | wits · Evolutionary Studies Institute

PhD Archaeology

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178
Publications
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Introduction
Professor Lyn Wadley is an Honorary Professor of archaeology in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, and the Institute for Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Her research field is the Middle Stone Age and she has directed excavations at Rose Cottage Cave and Sibudu. She is especially interested in the cognitive abilities of people who lived in the Middle Stone Age.

Publications

Publications (178)
Article
Border Cave (BC) has accumulated over 200,000 years of archaeological deposits that document remarkable evidence of human behaviour during the Middle and Later Stone Age. For nearly fifty years, researchers have relied on the stratigraphic framework established by Peter Beaumont in 1973, in which the deposits are lithostratigraphically categorized...
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
Full-text available
Examining why human populations used specific technologies in the Final Pleistocene is critical to understanding our evolutionary path. A key Final Pleistocene techno-tradition is the Howiesons Poort, which is marked by an increase in behavioral complexity and technological innovation. Central to this techno-tradition is the production of backed ar...
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
Here we present an optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) age estimate of 64 ± 5 ka for an offshore aeolianite and draw regional correlations (within 45 km) between the Pleistocene geological sequence offshore of the Durban Bluff, and contemporary palaeoenvironmental records from Sibudu on the South African sub-tropical east coast. Considering thi...
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
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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...
Article
Red Balloon Rock Shelter is located at 1200 m above mean sea level on the Waterberg Plateau, Limpopo Province. The surface of the deep, dry shelter is strewn with Iron Age ceramics of many facies, and Middle Stone Age (MSA) lithics. It may have been used as a rain-making site from the time of the first Iron Age settlement in the area. In addition t...
Article
Full-text available
Imagination and innovation are likely stimulated through the intersection of brain power, motor skill and social need. Through time, escalating creativity may have influenced cognition and social interactions, creating a feedback situation that also implicated demography. Such reciprocal interactions between technology, cognition and society may ha...
Article
Here we present charcoal identifications for Rose Cottage Cave, Eastern Free State, from layers dated between about 96,000 and 35,000 years ago (∼96 and ∼35 ka ago). We then suggest plant community types that might have been established in the area in warm Marine Isotope Stage 5 (MIS5) versus cooler MIS4/MIS3 phases. The hypothesis is that frost-te...
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
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
Full-text available
Palaeomagnetic data from a sedimentary section spanning the Holocene and terminal Pleistocene (~13 kya) from Rose Cottage Cave, eastern Free State (South Africa), are reported. The palaeomagnetic analysis took into account rock magnetism and directional analysis. The former reveals that most samples show stable single domain and superparamagnetic p...
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
Full-text available
Abstract Using fire experiments, we investigate claims that black organic residues on lithics found in Stone Age sites are markers for heat treatment of rocks in the embers of aboveground wood fires. We buried sedges overlain with lithics and bone to replicate plant bedding sometimes found in archaeological sites. Small fires were lit over the mate...
Article
A recent study using the combination of optical microscopy and Raman spectroscopy revealed the presence of bright yellow residues of lead (II) chromate associated with grinding striations on a 58,000‐year‐old grindstone excavated at Sibudu rock shelter in South Africa. Lead (II) chromate (PbCrO4) exists in nature as the rare mineral crocoite, howev...
Article
Full-text available
Based on optically stimulated luminescence age estimates it has been argued that the Still Bay represents a sudden, short-lived technological innovation dating to about 72–71 kya. Yet, few sites have the stratigraphic integrity and Still Bay point assemblage size to test this assumption. The Wadley deep sounding of Sibudu Cave provides such an oppo...
Article
Full-text available
Many Middle Stone Age sites in South Africa yielded hundreds, even thousands, of ochre pieces sometimes showing use traces. Less attention has been paid to the tools used for their processing. Here, seven tools excavated from the oldest layers (71,000 to 77,000 years ago) of Sibudu rock shelter were studied non-invasively to identify the micro-resi...
Article
New charcoal identifications are reported from the archaeological site, Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal. From six layers dated 77,000 to 65,000 years ago, 617/769 specimens were identified to 54 different woody taxa and of these 37 were identified to species level. The wood bundles are mostly from taxa suitable as fuel (including tinder); to a lesser ex...
Article
Full-text available
Site-specific environmental and climatic records are crucial to our understanding of human behavior and cognition during the African Middle Stone Age. This is particularly true of the South African Middle Stone Age record with its enigmatic and relatively short lived Still Bay and Howieson's Poort industries. Existing environmental models for the S...
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
Micro-residue analysis of stone tools is generally performed with optical light microscopy and the visual observations are then compared with experimental, replicated pieces. This paper complements such archaeological research by providing physico-chemical evidence. Raman spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy have been used to confirm the p...
Article
Full-text available
In the African Pleistocene, the fossil evidence for early Homo sapiens populations is still relatively limited. Here we present two additional specimens (two deciduous teeth) recovered from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) deposits of Sibudu Cave (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). We describe their morphology and metrics, using three-dimensional models of th...
Presentation
Full-text available
The Middle Stone Age sequence at Sibudu has ages between 77,000 and 38,000 years ago.[1] The post-Howieson Poort (post-HP) industry, around 58,000 years ago,[2] marks a change in lithic technology. The pointed lithic artefacts are broader, thicker, longer and heavier compared to the previous industries.[3] Moreover, the post-HP layers at Sibudu rev...
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
In this paper we present the results of a use-wear study of quartz micro-notches identified during a technological analysis of lithics from the Howiesons Poort layers of Sibudu Cave. Building on the technological analysis and preliminary functional screening of the archaeological material, a series of experiments was designed to evaluate different...
Data
Figure S1: Comparison between our residue mapping obtained by Raman micro-spectroscopy and SEM with that of microscopic observations by Lombard (2006).
Chapter
Many Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites such as Rose Cottage and Sibudu Caves yield large quantities of ochre pieces (9000 pieces from Sibudu alone). Physico-chemical characterisation is required to add value to the prior studies of ochre use traces. This project involves a non-destructive and multi-analytical approach (including Raman spectroscopy, Four...
Article
Full-text available
We evaluate the cultural variation between the youngest Howiesons Poort layer (GR) and the oldest post-Howiesons Poort layers (RB-YA) of Sibudu Cave (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). We first conducted a technological analysis, secondly we performed a cladistic study with all the technological traits and, finally, we compare the technological variabil...
Data
Description of the layers. (DOCX)
Data
All completed flakes. (XLSX)
Data
Normality tests for bipolar cores, flakes and blades and U-MannWhitney tests for different attributes. (XLSX)
Data
Autapomorphies and synapomorphies of the cladistics analysis. (DOCX)
Data
List of attributes for cladistics. (XLSX)
Article
Before 100,000 years ago, during the Middle Stone Age (MSA) of South Africa, silica varieties of minerals and rocks were sometimes heated during tool making in order to improve their knapping properties. If the heating and cooling process is not controlled, failure results and the nodules fracture. Recently, we postulated that the reversible α- to...
Poster
Full-text available
Stone tools are in many instances the only artefact type preserved in Stone Age contexts. Grindstones are an interesting class of tools used in the preparation of a variety of products. As such they can give information about behaviour that cannot be accessed from other stone tools. Sibudu, a rock shelter located in KwaZulu-Natal, has a long Middle...
Article
Full-text available
Here we present a database of responses by South African agate and chalcedony to heat treatment. This will assist analyses of heated stone tools not only in South African archaeological sites, but wherever heated agate and chalcedony pieces were knapped. The minerals are abundant worldwide. To replicate potential heating methods during the Stone Ag...
Presentation
Full-text available
In South Africa, numerous archaeological sites were found with extensive artefact archives that demonstrate modern human cognitive abilities. Sibudu Cave is an important site located in northern KwaZulu-Natal. It was occupied during a long time period from Pre-Still Bay to Iron Age. Sibudu yeilded numerous examples of modern human technology such a...
Article
Full-text available
We describe colour, hardness, grain size, geological type and surface modifications of ochre pieces excavated, first by Malan and later by Harper, from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) of Rose Cottage Cave, 96, 000 to 30, 000 years ago. Soft, bright-red shales are abundant, and most ochre has clayey or silty grain sizes. The post-Howiesons Poort layers c...
Article
Here, we present direct taphonomic evidence for the exploitation of birds by hunter-gatherers in the Middle Stone Age of South Africa as far as ∼77 ka. The bird assemblage from Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, was analysed for bone surface modifications. Cut-marks associated with skinning, defleshing, and disarticulation, perforations on distal humeri p...
Chapter
Encounter hunting , especially of big game, is an activity firmly associated with people who lived in the Middle Stone Age. Most hunting is assumed to have taken place in groups, using spears of varying complexity. Recent data suggest that various meat-acquisition techniques were used, at least within the last 65 ka. Bow-and-arrow sets as well as s...
Chapter
As archaeologists, we cannot access culture or cognition directly; we can only interpret levels of cultural or cognitive complexity from circumstantial evidence or from technological evidence. Some technologies cannot be achieved without complex cognition . Interpreting technological, cognitive and cultural complexity requires carefully constructed...
Book
This volume introduces a model of the expansion of cultural capacity as a systemic approach with biological, historical and individual dimensions. It is contrasted with existing approaches from primatology and behavioural ecology; influential factors like differences in life history and demography are discussed; and the different stages of the deve...
Article
Full-text available
Biochemical analyses of residues preserved on ethno-historical and archaeological artefacts increase our understanding of past indigenous knowledge systems. The interpretation of biochemical traces is, however, difficult. Problems that can hamper credible interpretations of ethno-historical or archaeological residues include incomplete knowledge ab...
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...
Presentation
Full-text available
Rose Cottage and Sibudu Caves yielded a large quantity of ochre pieces and traces. Some attributes of the ochre have already been studied purely from a visual point of view. Visual comparisons have been made between sites to understand use of ochre during Middle Stone Age occupation in South Africa, but physico-chemical evidences are needed to comp...
Article
Full-text available
The classification of archaeological assemblages in the Middle Stone Age of South Africa in terms of diversity and temporal continuity has significant implications with respect to recent cultural evolutionary models which propose either gradual accumulation or discontinuous, episodic processes for the emergence and diffusion of cultural traits. We...
Article
Full-text available
Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, proteomic and scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDS) analyses of residue on a stone flake from a 49,000 year-old layer of Sibudu (South Africa) indicate a mixture of ochre and casein from milk, likely obtained by killing a lactating wild bovid. Ochre powder production a...
Article
Full-text available
Africa's Middle Stone Age (MSA) may have lasted almost half a million years, but its earliest expression is not yet well understood. The MSA is best known for innovations that appear in the archaeological record at various times after about 200,000 years ago with the first appearance of Homo sapiens. These novel behaviours embrace hafting technolog...
Article
Full-text available
Sibudu's layer, Mottled Deposit (MOD), has an age of 49 100 years. Four hearths are present and the charcoal from them was identified to genera and often to species level. Poisonous Spirostachys africana occurred in one hearth that may have been designed as an insect-repelling fire. Acacia wood was generally favoured, probably as fuel wood, but a v...
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
The variability associated with Sibudu's Howiesons Poort Industry highlights the unpredictable trajectory of technology in the Middle Stone Age. We reach this conclusion through a study of the technology on quartz from one of the Howiesons Poort layers (Grey Sand) from Sibudu rock shelter. Quartz bifacial technology has previously been described at...
Article
Full-text available
Sibudu has many layers with ages close to 58 000 years ago. One of these, SS, contains large combustion features, at least one putative post hole, and many scrapers clustered around these features. In addition, scrapers and modified ochre co-occur. The scrapers are made from dolerite or hornfels and they vary in size and shape. Traces of ochre were...
Article
Full-text available
Middle Stone Age technological and behavioural develop-ments in southern Africa are central to understanding the emergence of modern humans, and elucidating the role of environmental change in this trajectory is dependent on emerging palaeoclimatic reconstructions. Climate proxies from Middle Stone Age sites are often poorly preserved, coarsely res...
Chapter
Full-text available
The Middle Stone Age of South Africa currently plays a central role in studies of the origins of symbolic behaviour. Micro-residue analyses on stone tools from sites with long Middle Stone Age sequences and good organic preservation are producing direct contextual evidence and detailed information about past technologies and associated behaviours....
Article
Full-text available
The lithic technology study of layer Grey Sand at Sibudu reveals a large number of cores on flakes. Varying knapping methods of core reduction are presented here. Most of the core reduction techniques can be attributed to bladelet or small flake production. Also, we point to a new type of blade production, from prismatic cores, revealed by the stud...
Chapter
Introduction Transformations Changing Gender Roles Conclusion Acknowledgments References
Article
Full-text available
The Howiesons Poort Industry is known for its precocious production of backed stone tools, engraved ostrich eggshell containers and diverse bone tools. We discovered another novelty at Sibudu: small quartz bifacial points that were made on site. In this paper we present a detailed technological study (supported by an experimental programme) and use...
Article
Full-text available
Cognitive complexity is defined here as the capacity for abstract thought, analogical reasoning, cognitive fluidity, innovative thought, complex goal-directed actions, flexibility in problem-solving, multi-tasking, task switching, response inhibition and planning over long distances or time. Some of these attributes are archaeologically recognizabl...
Article
Full-text available
Sibudu has pulses of occupation between 77 000 and 38 000 years ago (77 and 38 ka) separated by hiatuses that are as long as 10 ka. Several Middle Stone Age (MSA) industries are represented: pre-Still Bay, Still Bay, Howieson's Poort, post-Howieson's Poort and late and final MSA. Subtle environmental changes seem to have occurred during Marine Isot...