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Abstract

We present the results of a technological analysis of the Howiesons Poort and MSA III lithic artifacts from Cave 1A at Klasies River. We studied most of the debitage and retouched pieces from Deacon's excavations (about 3000 pieces) and all the cores and retouched pieces from three layers of Singer and Wymer excavations (640 pieces). Our analysis shows: (1) that HP blade production was based on the use of marginal percussion by soft stone hammer, as at Rose Cottage; (2) that impact scars at Klasies, Rose Cottage and Sibudu indicate that the backed pieces were hafted in two different ways; and (3) that the HP backed pieces were an innovative way of hafting spear tips but are not clear evidence of the invention of bows and arrows.We document the gradual evolution of debitage techniques within the HP sequence with progressive abandonment of the HP technological style. Very similar trends occur in the upper part of the HP sequence at Rose Cottage. The similarity in temporal trends between sites separated by more than 600 km has significant implications for the disappearance of the HP industry. We suggest that the disappearance of the HP was not due to a phenomenon of population contraction and isolation that caused the collapse of social networks. The internal evolution and parallel process of change documented at Klasies and Rose Cottage speak against a collapse of social systems and are associated with evidence of environmental and subsistence changes at the transition MIS 4/3.

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... In the South African MSA and LSA, these types include a diversity of sizes and shapes (e.g. Ambrose 2002;Wadley and Mohapi 2008;Villa et al. 2010) but are most often made on blades/bladelets and encompass so-called crescents, segments or lunates (curved backing) and trapezoids (truncated backing oblique to axis of tool edge; Fig. 6.2). At Sibudu, backed pieces are present in every major MSA unit, encompassing the "pre-SB", SB, HP, "post-HP" or Sibudan, late MSA and final MSA, but not in all layers. ...
... The LSA shell midden on top of the MSA deposits also produced three backed pieces (Singer and Wymer 1982: Table 9.1). In Deacon's better-resolved excavations, backed pieces make up >40% of the retouched component in the HP but are absent in the post-Howiesons Poort (Villa et al. 2010), and are not mentioned for other non-HP contexts by Wurz (2000Wurz ( , 2002. The only potential case for re-invention of segments at the site can be made in the LSA context, though arguably on few finds, though as this follows a substantial hiatus we cannot infer that from the Klasies sequence in isolation. ...
... prepared cores such as Levallois). The exception are so-called HP blade/bladelet cores which were first defined by Villa et al. (2010) as similar to Levallois cores but with the difference that the intersection of the debitage surface with the platform and the back of the core is not a plane but more convex. Most of our case sites (e.g. ...
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Stone artefacts are frequently used to identify and trace human populations in the Paleolithic. Convergence in lithic technology has the potential to confound such interpretations, implying connections between unrelated groups. To further the general theoretical debate on this issue, we first delineate the concepts of independent innovation, diffusion and migration and provide archaeological expectations for each of these processes that can create similarities in material culture. As an empirical test case, we then assess how these different mechanisms play out in both space and time for lithic technology across several scales of the African Stone Age record within the last 300 thousand years (kyr). Our findings show that convergence is neither the exception nor the norm, but a scale-dependent phenomenon that occurs more often for complex artefacts than is generally acknowledged and in many different spatio-temporal contexts of the African record that can crosscut the MSA/LSA boundary. Studies using similarly-looking stone tools to recognize past populations and track human dispersals in the Stone Age thus always need to test for the potential of independent innovation and not assume migration or diffusion a priori.
... The later Middle Stone Age (MSA) archaeological record of southern Africa is known for the diversity and antiquity of its complex lithic technologies, including early examples of the manufacture of blades and bladelets, bifacial points, and backed artifacts (or microliths) (Volman 1980;Mitchell 1988;Soriano et al. 2007;Wadley 2007;Villa et al. 2009Villa et al. , 2010Högberg and Larsson 2011;Porraz et al. 2013a, b;Wurz 2013). Associated production techniques include the use of pressure flaking, marginal percussion with soft stone, and heat treatment (Brown et al. 2009;Soriano et al. 2009;Mourre et al. 2010;Schmidt et al. 2012;Porraz et al. 2013b). ...
... Various proxies suggest increased temperatures and decreased humidity at this time (Chase 2010). Technologically, blade production fades, and backed artifacts are replaced by unifacial points (morphologically equivalent to convergent scrapers) as the dominant implement type ( Fig. 2.2) (Volman 1980;Soriano et al. 2007;Villa et al. 2010;Mackay 2011;Conard et al. 2012;Porraz et al. 2013b). In the WRZ, these "post-Howiesons Poort" assemblages also witness decreases both in artifact discard and in the prevalence of silcrete. ...
... Variance at Diepkloof is driven chiefly by the absence of cortical silcrete flakes in the Still Bay and their comparative abundance in the later Howiesons Poort. While typical "Howiesons Poort" cores (cf., Villa et al. 2010) retain a cortical lower surface throughout their reduction, flakes with 50% cortex likely relate to initial core setup and ongoing maintenance (Porraz et al. 2013b). Thus, while large numbers of silcrete cores were being transported to both sites in the Howiesons Poort, they appear often to have been in sufficiently early stages of reduction to have produced highly cortical flakes. ...
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The later Middle Stone Age of southern Africa witnesses a number of important changes in lithic technology including the early appearance of bifacial point and microlithic systems. Though radiometric ages for these changes remain contested, they can in places be reconciled with elements of climatic variation. This paper examines the organization of provisioning systems through four successive industrial phases – the Still Bay, early Howiesons Poort, later Howiesons Poort, and post-Howiesons Poort – using data from rock-shelters and open sites. We show that the dominant means of technological delivery shifted from individual to place provisioning and back to individual provisioning through these industries, likely reflecting variation in humidity through the last glacial. We also show that the apparent abundance of sites and richness of assemblages in industries such as the Howiesons Poort may be in part a consequence of a research focus on rock-shelters; we found limited evidence for Howiesons Poort sites in the open. This is in contrast to the other industries, most clearly the Still Bay, for which we identified several large open-air gearing-up locations. Finally, we suggest that while interrogation of the archaeological record at the industry level is viable, it also masks behaviorally meaningful variation that should serve to encourage finer-scaled analyses.
... The geometric engraving of ostrich eggshells probably used as containers is one of the most significant indicators of complex shared socially mediated behaviours among Howiesons Poort populations ( Texier et al. 2010Texier et al. , 2013Henshilwood et al. 2014). The production of backed and geometric pieces follows rigorous technological norms which are similar across sites, and may indicate a similar cultural context ( Wurz 1999;Villa et al. 2010;Porraz et al. 2013;Soriano et al. 2015). Possible local and regional differences in stone and bone tool technology and typology are nonetheless highlighted by some authors ( MacKay 2011;d'Errico et al. 2012;Porraz et al. 2013). ...
... In these models however, variations between sites are only partially discussed. Several lithic assemblages have been scrutinized from this point of view since ( Villa et al. 2010;Porraz et al. 2013;Soriano et al. 2015). It is not the case for most of the other remains, especially those that are considered to be the result of long sequences of operations and complex cognitive capacities such as the ones described above for ochre use. ...
... The shell fish quantities are markedly lower than in the MIS 5 layers, and this may be due to environmental, preservational or behavioural factors ( Thackeray 1989). The Howiesons Poort techno-complex at Klasies River consists of distinctive geometric backed artefacts and notched pieces, made on blanks predominately produced according to a blade reduction system ( Wurz 2002;Villa et al. 2010). The blades of the Howiesons Poort, even those in quartzite, are much smaller than those from the rest of the sequence at Klasies River ( Singer & Wymer 1982;Volman 1984;Deacon 1989;Thackeray 1989). ...
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The widespread use of ochre during Oxygen Isotope Stage 5 and 4 in South Africa has often been interpreted as reflecting complex behaviours amongst modern human populations. The Howiesons Poort is one of the most documented techno-complexes identified within this timeframe. It is associated with an intensification of a combination of innovative technical and symbolic behaviours. Despite the notable focus on ochre use, detailed analyses of Howiesons Poort assemblages in this respect are rare. New data on ochre exploitation from the Howiesons Poort of Klasies River main site are presented in this paper. We used non-destructive microscopic, colorimetric and chemical analyses (sem-eds, xrd) in order to describe the raw materials and the transformation of a selected sample from the Singer and Wymer ochre collection. This sample is composed of red and yellow ferruginous rocks (shale, ferricrete, siltstone and sandstone), along with whitish lumps (calcium phosphates). These lumps may have an anthropogenic origin and may be considered as pigments. Some of the red ochre pieces were probably deliberately heated. Our results enhance the impression of complexity emerging from the technical processes mastered by Howiesons Poort populations. Comparison with other Howiesons Poort ochre assemblages allows a discussion of regional variability and 'connections' between the sites. The scale and organization of social interactions in the Howiesons Poort are questioned.
... The blades are wide and large due to the morphology of the removal surface (Boëda, 1994(Boëda, , 1995. That said, other laminar systems are documented, e.g. in the MP at Seclin, France (Delagnes, 1996(Delagnes, , 2000, Tönchesberg, and Wallertheim, Germany (Conard, 1992;Conard & Adler, 1997), in the "MSA I" at Klasies River, South Africa (Singer & Wymer, 1982;Wurz, 2002) and the Southern African Howiesons Poort (HP) (see Igreja & Porraz, 2013;Villa, Soriano, Teyssandier, & Wurz, 2010). Sometimes two reduction systems are overlapping like at Etoutteville, France (Delagnes, 1996), where the blade production and the unidirectional Levallois reduction strategy are part of the same reduction sequence. ...
... The blanks and cores document a high investment in the preparation of the Table 15. Comparison of the laminar reduction strategy of the D-A layers from the Deep Sounding to other laminar reduction systems in Southern Africa (+ = <10%; ++ = >10% and <50%; +++ = >50%) (scheme of pyramidal or flat core modified after Wurz, 2002; scheme of HP cores modified after Villa et al., 2010; scheme of unidirectional recurrent Levallois core modified after Boëda, 1994). platforms by faceting. ...
... The diagnostic features concerning the knapping technique converge at the use of marginal soft stone hammer percussion. The blades are regular and rectilinear with triangular or trapezoidal cross-sections and thin platforms Soriano et al., 2007;Villa et al., 2010). The reduction sequence starts with the initial extraction of laminar elements following a natural convexity. ...
Article
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Blade technology, long associated solely with the Upper Paleolithic (UP) as an indicator of modern behavior, appears as early as the Middle Pleistocene and is present during the Middle Paleolithic (MP) and the Middle Stone Age (MSA). The nature behind the appearance of early laminar assemblages remains poorly understood. Yet current excavations at Sibudu Cave (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) have yielded MIS 5 lithic assemblages that contribute to the understanding of the diversity of blade technologies during the MSA. Following the chaîne opératoire approach, we explain how the knappers at Sibudu developed a laminar reduction strategy characterized by unidirectional cores with a lateral crest opposite a flat surface. The core configuration facilitated the production of blades with different intended morphological characteristics. Our results highlight the distinctiveness of the laminar reduction system of the D-A layers and foster the discussion on the role of this technological choice within the Southern African MSA.
... Three out of five known MSA sites in this region have been the subject of our research (Fig. 1) and the principal findings will be summarized in the following. As expected from previous work (Mitchell 2008;Villa et al. 2010;Wadley 2010;Lombard and Parsons 2011;Gregor D. Bader and Manuel Will Mackay 2011;Wurz 2013;Mackay et al. 2014a) we could generally confirm that the archaeological signal of MIS 3 is diverse with high amounts of interassemblage and diachronic variability. This, however, does not imply that the record is unstructured or unsophisticated as has sometimes been claimed (Sampson 1974;Deacon 1989;McCall 2007;Mellars 2007;Jacobs et al. 2008a;Henshilwood 2012). ...
... Returning back to initial considerations of space and time, our recent work in KZN more generally informs on patterns of MIS 3 archaeology on the subcontinental scale in southern Africa. Similar to recent research on individual assemblages (Soriano et al. 2007;Villa et al. 2010;Wadley 2010;Mackay 2011;Mohapi 2013) and larger-scale reviews (Mitchell 2008;Wurz 2013;Mackay et al. 2014a;Wadley 2015), we found an increased diversification in lithic technology with abundant diachronic variation within KZN in relation to the preceding and more homogeneous signal of the HP. Recent studies of MIS 3 stone artifact assemblages have provided evidence for both distinctive techno-typological signals and sophisticated knapping behaviors, falsifying previous assessments of "unstructured," "unsophisticated" or "conventional MSA" technologies (Sampson 1974;Singer and Wymer 1982;Deacon 1989;Henshilwood 2005;Mellars 2007;McCall 2007;Jacobs et al. 2008a). ...
... Our new research in KZN, in combination with studies in the Western Cape and those of other researchers (Soriano et al. 2007;Lombard andParsons 2010, 2011;Villa et al. 2010;Wadley 2010;Mackay 2011;Porraz et al. 2013;Mackay et al. 2014a), allows us to draw provisional conclusions about trajectories of cultural change after the HP within the subcontinent. The key pattern appears to be the emergence of regional cultural evolutionary pathways after the more homogeneous HP, with variation potentially following more strongly along environmental axes. ...
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The Middle Stone Age (MSA) of southern Africa is central to current discussions on the early behavioral evolution of modern humans. Recent MSA research has focused on two technocomplexes, the Still Bay (SB) and Howiesons Poort (HP) that are associated with the early appearance of many cultural innovations. Apart from this temporal emphasis, a regional focus of research on the southern and western coasts of South Africa is largely due to taphonomic factors and research history. This research bias constituted the starting point for two PhD dissertations at the University of Tübingen, whose main findings are summarized here. The current contribution focuses on new results concerning lithic assemblages from the understudied region KwaZulu-Natal during the lesser-known period of MIS 3, and provides a general overview on recent Stone Age research by the University of Tübingen. Our main study site of Sibudu is a key locality for the chrono-cultural stratigraphy of southern Africa due to its exceptional finds, excellent preservation of organic materials, long sequence and secure chronology, though the site has long been regionally isolated. Our research thus aimed to generate a comparative regional framework for the MSA archaeology of KwaZulu-Natal, with the nearby – but mostly forgotten – sites of Holley Shelter and Umbeli Belli as ideal case studies. The MIS 3 lithic assemblages of Sibudu following the HP provide evidence of sophisticated knapping behaviors associated with technological innovations. Based upon clear technotypological signals, these assemblages were used to define the “Sibudan” technocomplex. The large amount of diachronic variability within the sequence is mostly due to the exceptionally high temporal resolution for the MSA. Comparisons with Holley Shelter show many similarities, whereas site-specific differences can be attributed to differential access to raw materials influencing techno-economic behaviors on small scales. New archaeological work at Umbeli Belli provides insights on the technology and chronology for the relatively unknown end of the MSA on the eastern seaboard of South Africa, the so-called “final MSA.” Our research suggests that the archaeology of MIS 3 in southern Africa can be characterized by persistent cultural complexity after the HP, with a high degree of regional variability and dynamic change through time. These results have important implications for models of the early behavioral evolution of Homo sapiens. We conclude with outlining future directions of research by the University of Tübingen in the MSA of South Africa which intend to extend the spatio-temporal scope of the work presented here. Keywords: South Africa; Middle Stone Age, MIS 3, lithic technology, variability
... While it is undoubtedly a distinct period within the MSA, the details of the HP still need to be better understood, as it seems to be characterized by important internal changes. Previous work on long HP sequences in southern Africa [1,5,13,15,19,32,[35][36][37] has shown that tool manufacturing, raw material selection and blade versus flake production are the main markers of change through time. These changes have led to the identification of a number of phases within the HP (e.g. ...
... These changes have led to the identification of a number of phases within the HP (e.g. [19,35,36]). However, the investigation of the driving factors and mechanisms for transitions within the HP is usually overshadowed by the question of the transition to the post-HP, which is seen as a major turnover in lithic strategies and lifestyles (e.g. ...
... However, the investigation of the driving factors and mechanisms for transitions within the HP is usually overshadowed by the question of the transition to the post-HP, which is seen as a major turnover in lithic strategies and lifestyles (e.g. [13,23,36,[38][39][40][41]). ...
Article
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Howiesons Poort (HP) sites, over the past decades, have provided exceptional access to anthropogenic remains that are enhancing our understanding of early modern human behaviour during the Middle Stone Age in southern Africa. Here, we analyse the technological and typological trends in the lithic record that form part of these behaviours, based on the HP sequence recently excavated at Klipdrift Shelter, located on the southern Cape coast of South Africa. This study contributes to enhance knowledge on the mechanisms of changes that occurred during the transition to the post-HP. Despite patterns of continuity observed, notably for core reduction methods, the seven successive lithic assemblages show significant changes in the typological characteristics and raw material selection but also in the relative importance of blade production over time. However, these changes are not necessarily synchronic and occur either as gradual processes or as abrupt technological shifts. Consequently, we cross-examine the association between the lithic phasing and other anthropogenic remains within the HP sequence at Klipdrift Shelter. We explore the implications of these patterns of changes in terms of cultural behaviours and population dynamics during the HP and we highlight the relationship between the different phases of the HP sequence at Klipdrift Shelter and those from other South African HP sites.
... Backed artefacts are traditionally argued to reflect the diversification and refinement of weapon delivery systems [26][27][28], and this role has been confirmed with experimental and archaeological evidence for hafting and propulsion impacts on backed pieces from the African Pleistocene record [20,[29][30][31]. Although corresponding faunal data are sparse, some zooarchaeological data suggest that projectile systems increased foraging returns by providing an ability to take down larger game at a distance [32], though conversely, backed artefact industries occur also in contexts where resource intensification drove efficiency increases in the targeting of smaller game species [33,34]. ...
... Often implicating the use of high-grade, exotic raw material in combination with standardized blank morphologies meant that backed artefact production sequences were frequently both lengthy and hierarchically nested [20,22]. Further, in Africa as well as in the Eurasian Upper Palaeolithic, these artefacts imply the use of hafted tools comprising multiple interconnected 'techno-units' [2,20,28,30,31,35,36]. By variably implicating both mutually reliant tool components and lengthy production sequences, backed artefacts score highly on two independent measures of technological complexity [1,2]. ...
... Pictured are photographs of some of the earliest backed artefacts in Africa from Rose Cottage Cave, Umhlatuzana, Diepkloof Rockshelter (all South Africa) and Panga ya Saidi (Kenya) (all photos taken by Archer). On the bottom right (inset) are two illustrated examples of backed artefact hafting configurations: a simple configuration (a) and a more complex configuration (b)[28,31]. ...
Article
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As is the case today, both climate variability and population density influenced human behavioural change in the past. The mechanisms underpinning later Pleistocene human behavioural evolution, however, remain contested. Many complex behaviours evolved in Africa, but early evidence for these behaviours varies both spatially and temporally. Scientists have not been able to explain this flickering pattern, which is present even in sites and regions clearly occupied by Homo sapiens . To explore this pattern, here the presence and frequency of evidence for backed stone artefact production are modelled against climate-driven, time-series population density estimates (Timmermann and Friedrich. 2016 Nature 538 , 92. ( doi:10.1038/nature19365 )), in all known African Late Pleistocene archaeological sites ( n = 116 sites, n = 409 assemblages, n = 893 dates). In addition, a moving-window, site density population estimate is included at the scale of southern Africa. Backed stone artefacts are argued in many archaeological contexts to have functioned in elaborate technologies like composite weapons and, in the African Pleistocene, are accepted proxies for cultural complexity. They show a broad but sporadic distribution in Africa, prior to their association with Homo sapiens dispersing into Europe 45–40 ka. Two independent population estimates explain this pattern and potentially implicate the interaction of climate change and demography in the expression of cultural complexity in African Pleistocene Homo sapiens . This article is part of the theme issue ‘Cross-disciplinary approaches to prehistoric demography’.
... In the early lithic technologies prepared core technologies were used to produce unretouched quartzite point and blade end products (Wurz 2002;Brenner and Wurz 2019). The MIS 4 Howiesons Poort reflect more diverse raw material exploitation, and a focus on smaller blades sometimes retouched into notched and geometric retouched artifacts (Wurz 2002;Villa et al., 2010). The MIS 3 post-Howiesons Poort sees a return to the production of larger quartzite products reminiscent of the MIS 5 artifacts (Wurz 2002;Villa et al. 2010). ...
... The MIS 4 Howiesons Poort reflect more diverse raw material exploitation, and a focus on smaller blades sometimes retouched into notched and geometric retouched artifacts (Wurz 2002;Villa et al., 2010). The MIS 3 post-Howiesons Poort sees a return to the production of larger quartzite products reminiscent of the MIS 5 artifacts (Wurz 2002;Villa et al. 2010). The Later Stone Age Wilton related to the "Kabeljous" culture comprises an expedient quartzite technology associated with thick backed scraper-knives, sometimes termed giant crescents (Binneman 1995;Singer and Wymer 1982). ...
Article
Coastal adaptation in the southern Cape can be seen around 100,000 years ago in sites such as Klasies River, Blombos Cave, and Pinnacle Point, representing the occupation of a new niche by early Homo sapiens in this region. However, there is relatively little information available on the details involved in fully entering this niche from a regional perspective. At Klasies River main site (KRM), evidence for coastal adaptation occurs in early MIS 5. Here we explore the variability in shellfish exploitation and how it links to lithic technology, in deposits dating to ca. 93,000–110,000 years ago. We compare this to broadly contemporaneous assemblages from Pinnacle Point 13B and Blombos Cave. The lithics in all the layers from KRM investigated here have been produced according to a unidirectional reduction system, but the lowermost assemblages contain more small debitage and bladelets, and no tools. These 110 ka layers are associated with a lower shellfish density and more diverse range of shellfish species and a higher lithic density. This points to a lesser dependency on shellfish coinciding with higher mobility in the lower layers. For the younger MIS 5c layers higher volumes of shellfish and the dominance of certain species is evident. The lithics show that all the stages of the reduction system are present and tools are produced and used on-site. This indicates a residential (provisioning of place) occupational strategy. Compared to other sites on the southern Cape coast, KRM shows exceptionally high densities in lithic artifacts while the shellfish densities are comparable to the Blombos M3 phase. The results of the analysis of the shellfish and lithic densities, technological patterns, and shellfish species exploited at Klasies River, Blombos Cave and Pinnacle Point, demonstrate a more diverse onset and expression of coastal adaptation during early MIS 5 than apparent from current literature.
... We agree with Douka et al. [5] that the origins of the Uluzzian can- not be sought in industries of Howiesons Poort affinities from South Africa or East Africa because there is no evidence of Uluzzian assemblages in the intermediate regions. We can also note that the classic Howiesons Poort industry, which is rich in backed pieces and dated between c. 65 to 59 ka [67][68][69] is defined by a debitage almost exclusively oriented to the pro- duction of blades, hardly comparable to the Uluzzian. The post-Howiesons Poort industries are characterized by a significant production of flakes as tool blanks, however blades are still largely predominant at Border Cave (layer 2WA dated to about 60 ka) [35] at Sibudu (layer RSP, dated to about 53 ka) [70] and in the MSA3 of Klasies (dated between 60 and 50 ka) [69]. ...
... We can also note that the classic Howiesons Poort industry, which is rich in backed pieces and dated between c. 65 to 59 ka [67][68][69] is defined by a debitage almost exclusively oriented to the pro- duction of blades, hardly comparable to the Uluzzian. The post-Howiesons Poort industries are characterized by a significant production of flakes as tool blanks, however blades are still largely predominant at Border Cave (layer 2WA dated to about 60 ka) [35] at Sibudu (layer RSP, dated to about 53 ka) [70] and in the MSA3 of Klasies (dated between 60 and 50 ka) [69]. In contrast flake manufacture is predominant in the post-HP at Rose Cottage (between 50 to 47 ka) [67]. ...
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Having thrived in Eurasia for 350,000 years Neandertals disappeared from the record around 40,000–37,000 years ago, after modern humans entered Europe. It was a complex process of population interactions that included cultural exchanges and admixture between Neandertals and dispersing groups of modern humans. In Europe Neandertals are always associated with the Mousterian while the Aurignacian is associated with modern humans only. The onset of the Aurignacian is preceded by “transitional” industries which show some similarities with the Mousterian but also contain modern tool forms. Information on these industries is often incomplete or disputed and this is true of the Uluzzian. We present the results of taphonomic, typological and technological analyses of two Uluzzian sites, Grotta La Fabbrica (Tuscany) and the newly discovered site of Colle Rotondo (Latium). Comparisons with Castelcivita and Grotta del Cavallo show that the Uluzzian is a coherent cultural unit lasting about five millennia, replaced by the Protoaurignacian before the eruption of the Campanian Ignimbrite. The lack of skeletal remains at our two sites and the controversy surrounding the stratigraphic position of modern human teeth at Cavallo makes it difficult to reach agreement about authorship of the Uluzzian, for which alternative hypotheses have been proposed. Pending the discovery of DNA or further human remains, these hypotheses can only be evaluated by archaeological arguments, i.e. evidence of continuities and discontinuities between the Uluzzian and the preceding and succeeding culture units in Italy. However, in the context of “transitional” industries with disputed dates for the arrival of modern humans in Europe, and considering the case of the Châtelperronian, an Upper Paleolithic industry made by Neandertals, typo-technology used as an indicator of hominin authorship has limited predictive value. We corroborate previous suggestions that the Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition occurred as steps of rapid changes and geographically uneven rates of spread.
... In the 1980s Hilary Deacon excavated the Howiesons Poort in squares E50, H51 and J51 to the south east of Wymer's excavation (Deacon and Geleijnse, 1988). Singer and Wymer's layer 19 corresponds broadly to the layers between YS6 in square H51 and CPx1 in square J51 ( Fig. 2; Villa et al., 2010;Deacon excavation notes). Initially, Deacon (1989) suggested an age centred around 70 ka for the technocomplex at KRM. Subsequent dating of the middle Howiesons Poort layers at Cave 1 provided age ranges between~70 ka and 60 ka. ...
... Thus far, evidence for bow hunting technology preceding 60 ka has only been reported from the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa (Backwell et al., 2008;Lombard and Phillipson, 2010). During the Howiesons Poort occupation at both Sibudu Cave and KRM backed stone geometrics were found that were hafted in innovative arrangements and used as weapon components (Villa et al., 2010), most likely as arrow tips, arrowhead insets or barbs (Lombard, 2011;de la Peña et al., 2018). Similar techno-behaviour is hinted at by 71 ka at Pinnacle Point 5e6 along the southern coast of South Africa, based on the presence of Howiesons Poort-like artefacts (Brown et al., 2012;McBrearty, 2012). ...
Article
The bone point (SAM 42160) from >60 ka deposits at Klasies River Main Site, South Africa, is reassessed. We clarify the stratigraphic integrity of SAM 42160 and confirm its Middle Stone Age provenience. We find evidence that indicates the point was hafted and partially coated in an adhesive substance. Internal fractures are consistent with stresses occasioned by high-velocity, longitudinal impact. SAM 42160, like its roughly contemporaneous counterpart, farther north at Sibudu Cave, likely functioned as a hafted arrowhead. We highlight a growing body of evidence for bow hunting at this early period and explore bow-and-arrow technology might imply about the cognition of people in the Middle Stone Age who were able to conceive, construct and use it.
... It is worth noting that at Fumane, as well as at the end of regional Mousterian sequences in south and south-western France, there is no standardization of backing techniques and of the overall form of backed implements (though they are often lunated/curved). This is in contrast with the European MP-UP transitional industries, such as the Uluzzian (Riel-Salvatore, 2009;Moroni et al., 2018;Peresani et al., 2019) and the Chatelperronian (Pelegrin, 1995;Roussel et al., 2016), or the Howiesons Poort and Post-Howiesons Poort complexes in South Africa (Soriano et al., 2007;Villa et al., 2010), where backed pieces typically fit standardized classes. These standardized tools are sometimes interpreted as evidence for symbolic behavior, or as social markers (Barham, 2002;Soriano et al., 2007). ...
... Hafting and composite tools have been generically considered in the literature as a marker for modern behavior (McBrearty and Brooks, 2000), even though Shea and Sisk (2010) limited this term to the hafting of points or barbs in thrown spear or arrows. Although this hypothesis requires further evidence, this appears to be the use-pattern of the geometric backed tools from the Howiesons Poort (Villa et al., 2010) or MP-UP transition complexes (Sano et al., 2018). However, hafting in Fumane A9 did not involve points, but tools used in other activities. ...
... The expedition carried and shipped the vast amount of all classes of artefacts and ecofacts from Mumba along with the ethnographic materials, fossils and finds from other sites to Germany for study, where they are still housed in a number of museums and research institutes. The logistical effort that Scientific Perspectives: Africa and HEADS Scientific Perspectives: Africa and HEADS 2 2 the MSA (Wurz, 2002;Soriano et al., 2007;Porraz et al., 2008;Villa et al., 2010). In this context the stratigraphic and chronological relationships between Still Bay and Howiesons Poort assemblages have often been the focus of research, and the importance of bifacial points and segments as strict cultural markers is often accepted uncritically. ...
... Researchers from the University of Tübingen, Paris West University Nanterre La Défense, and many other institutions are currently studying assemblages from across the subcontinent to better characterize the patterns of technological change over the course of the MSA. In the coming years we should gain a greatly improved understanding of the variability during the MSA that will allow us to contextualize and critically assess the patterns of lithic innovation and the coming and going of new assemblage types (Porraz et al., 2008;Soriano et al., 2007;Villa et al., 2010;Lombard and Parsons, 2011). ...
... The HP techno-complex occurs above this, in the lower 1.8 m of Upper Member. It is a blade technology, containing a higher proportion of smaller blades than in the rest of the MSA sequence at KRM (Wurz, 2002;Villa et al., 2010), associated with backed geometrics and notched artefacts (Wurz, 2002). The platform preparation techniques evident in the MSA l appear again, but this time in relation to even more intensive reduction of cores and utilisation of a wider range of raw materials (Wurz, 2010). ...
... Elongated larger quartzite artefacts again dominate (Wurz, 2002;Villa et al., 2010). The MSA lll faunal sample discussed in this paper comes from square E50, Layers E50S-AB, from only half a metre of deposits. ...
Article
Given the large number of hominin and archaeological remains the site has yielded, Klasies River has contributed significantly to our understanding of how humans developed and behaved during the Middle Stone Age. Its extensive occupational sequence and the abundance of faunal remains recovered from the deposits also make it an important site in exploring palaeoenvironmental change during the Late Pleistocene. The mammalian fauna from the over 70 000 year long sequence at Klasies River possibly extending from MIS 6 to 3 are useful in positioning the evolution of complex human behaviour within an environmental context. Here, we use the large mammal fauna excavated in the 1980s and 1990s from Klasies River Cave 1 and 1A to test links between ungulate diversity and palaeoclimatic change in the south-eastern Cape of South Africa. Fauna from extended Pleistocene sequences in the south-eastern Cape are relatively rare and collections such as these are important proxies for assessing environmental change in this particular region. Our analysis indicates that the proportion of ungulate grazers, browsers and mixed-feeders shifts in accordance with glacial/interglacial fluctuations. We find significant correlations between grazer proportions and ungulate diversity through the sequence which may be linked to the effect of marine regressions on the landscape or shifting moisture availability. We compare the Klasies River data set with a selection of Middle Stone Age sites in the southern Cape. Our analysis suggests that primary productivity is greater along the eastern southern Cape than the western region. This study has broad implications for understanding the relationship between expanding grasslands and ungulate richness during the Late Pleistocene.
... There is also a single crescent with dimensions that fit those found in the HP techno-complex (e.g. Soriano et al. 2007;Wurz 2002) (Fig. 9h) associated with Levallois blanks and cores (Table 12), and with blades, although these are larger than those usually found in HP assemblages (Soriano et al. 2007;Villa et al. 2010). Bipolar technology is also present with a few cores, but no scaled pieces were found during survey associated with this assemblage. ...
... This centripetal technology seems to have been simplified during the LSA, with the use of centripetal cores without prepared platforms, as seen in the site of Txina Txina as well as other local sites, whose materials are currently under study (Bicho et al. 2017b). If confirmed, this organization seems to partially follow the general sequence and some of the characteristics of southern African sites, such as Bushman, Kudu Koppie, Border Cave or Sibudu, or other sites further south such as Blombos, Pinnacle Point and Klasies River (Archer et al. 2015;Conard et al. 2012Conard et al. , 2015de la Peña & Wadley 2014;d'Errico et al. 2008;Henshillwood et al. 2004Henshillwood et al. , 2011Jacobs et al. 2008Jacobs et al. , 2013Marean et al. 2007;Porraz et al. 2013Porraz et al. , 2015Tribolo et al. 2009;Villa et al. 2010;Wilkins et al. 2010;Will et al., 2014;Wurz 2002). The scenario is completely different in the Niassa region. ...
Article
Southeast Africa has become an important region for understanding the development of the Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Anatomically Modern Humans. Due to its location between east and southern Africa, Mozambique is a key region for evaluating the development of Homo sapiens and the MSA across Africa. Here, we present the first results of lithic analyses of MSA assemblages collected during survey and testing in the Niassa and Massingir regions of Mozambique in 2014-2016. We were able to locate close to 200 new Stone Age surface sites. Data show that raw material use is different in the two areas. The lithic assemblages from both areas show the use of centripetal technology, but in Massingir, Levallois points, the respective cores and blade technology are frequent, they are almost absent in the northern region.
... The phenomenon of habitual microlithic production, known as "microlithization", has been documented worldwide and is commonly accompanied by instances of microliths damaged by impact (Valla 1987;Marder et al. 2006;Yaroshevich 2006;Yaroshevich et al. 2010;Chesnaux 2009, 20014;Villa et al. 2010;Pétillon et al. 2011;Roux et al. 2020). This process, as well as intensification of the use of traps, has been associated with a broad-spectrum diet, including hunting and collecting small animals (Flannery 1969;Stiner et al. 2000;Munro 2004Munro , 2009aMunro , 2009bLev et al. 2020). ...
... The earliest example of microliths damaged by impact fractures is known from the Howiesons Poort industry in Africa, dating to the Middle Stone Age, 80-60 ka cal. BP (Goodwin and van Riet Lowe 1929;Ambrose 1998;Villa et al. 2010). Later, from the Upper Paleolithic period onward, habitual use of microlithic tools has been documented in various industries in other parts of the Old World (e.g. ...
Chapter
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The microlithization process in Levant was initiated in the Upper Paleolithic and escalated in variability of morphotypes and technologies during the Epipaleolithic period. This process was accompanied by increased frequency of impact fracture damage on microlithic tools, often associated with their use in composite tools, and the possible introduction of the bow and arrow. In particular, Late Natufian hunting practices from the Ashalim site (Ashalim) in the northwestern Negev are reflected in the common appearance of damaged backed lunates as part of composite tool exploitation. At Ashalim, several Late Natufian occurrences were documented on the shoreline of a winter seasonal pond. In each Late Natufian assemblage, a significant portion (c. 20%) of the abruptly backed lunates displayed diagnostic impact fracture breakage patterns suggesting their use as projectiles. The current study suggests that Ashalim was at the focus of repeated hunting trips as part of the Late Natufian winter/spring subsistence strategy. L
... The phenomenon of habitual microlithic production, known as "microlithization", has been documented worldwide and is commonly accompanied by instances of microliths damaged by impact (Valla 1987;Marder et al. 2006;Yaroshevich 2006;Yaroshevich et al. 2010;Chesnaux 2009, 20014;Villa et al. 2010;Pétillon et al. 2011;Roux et al. 2020). This process, as well as intensification of the use of traps, has been associated with a broad-spectrum diet, including hunting and collecting small animals (Flannery 1969;Stiner et al. 2000;Munro 2004Munro , 2009aMunro , 2009bLev et al. 2020). ...
... The earliest example of microliths damaged by impact fractures is known from the Howiesons Poort industry in Africa, dating to the Middle Stone Age, 80-60 ka cal. BP (Goodwin and van Riet Lowe 1929;Ambrose 1998;Villa et al. 2010). Later, from the Upper Paleolithic period onward, habitual use of microlithic tools has been documented in various industries in other parts of the Old World (e.g. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The microlithization process in Levant was initiated in the Upper Paleolithic and escalated in variability of morphotypes and technologies during the Epipaleolithic period. This process was accompanied by increased frequency of impact fracture damage on microlithic tools, often associated with their use in composite tools, and the possible introduction of the bow and arrow. In particular, Late Natufian hunting practices from the Ashalim site (Ashalim) in the northwestern Negev are reflected in the common appearance of damaged backed lunates as part of composite tool exploitation. At Ashalim, several Late Natufian occurrences were documented on the shoreline of a winter seasonal pond. In each Late Natufian assemblage, a significant portion (c. 20%) of the abruptly backed lunates displayed diagnostic impact fracture breakage patterns suggesting their use as projectiles. The current study suggests that Ashalim was at the focus of repeated hunting trips as part of the Late Natufian winter/spring subsistence strategy.
... The work at Diepkloof raised a range of questions and indicated that the HP was not a uniform spatial and temporal phenomenon. This point is underlined by results from Rose Cottage Cave (Soriano et al. 2007), Klein Kliphuis (MacKay 2011), Klasies River Mouth (Wurz 2002;Villa et al. 2010), and Klipdrift (Henshilwood et al. 2014). Furthermore, initial results suggest similarities between the later parts of the HP sequences at Diepkloof and Klipdrift, again implying that the HP reflects a period of considerable cultural change rather than a monolithic golden age of sorts. ...
... However, the difference in blade/bladelet production is not because blade and bladelet production disappears, but because the cores and the core-related by-products disappear (such as the semicrests). A most notable change regarding blade/bladelet production is the disappearance of core-on-flakes (with the exception of RB and BYA2) and the so-called 'Howiesons Poort cores' (for the definition see [65]). Concerning Technological variability at Sibudu Cave flake production, this was already present in Howiesons Poort, but what is a novelty is the appearance in all of these layers of quartzite flake production that was completely absent during the Howiesons Poort layers. ...
Article
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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 variability with other data from Sibudu (ochre, micromorphology, fauna and plant remains). The synapomorphies of the cladistical analysis show numerous lithic technological changes between the youngest Howiesons Poort and the oldest post-Howiesons Poort layers as previously concluded. However, some technological strategies that are present, yet uncommon, in the Howiesons Poort become abundant in the overlying layers, whereas others that were fundamental to the Howiesons Poort continue, but are poorly represented in the overlying layers. We further show that lithic technological strategies appear and disappear as pulses in the post-Howiesons Poort layers studied. Among the most notable changes in the post-Howiesons Poort layers is the importance of flake production from discoidal knapping methods, the unstandardized retouched pieces and their infrequent representation, and the higher than usual frequency of grindstones. We evaluate various hypotheses to explain the transformation of a Howiesons Poort formal industry to a more `expedient' assemblage. Since no marked environmental changes are contemporary with the technological transformation, a change in residential mobility patterns seems a plausible explanation. This hypothesis is supported by the changes observed in stratigraphy, lithic technology, site management, ochre and firewood collection.
... Les lames peuvent rester brutes de retouche comme à Saint-Germain des Vaux (Cliquet D. 1992), ou être retouchées comme à Séclin (Revillon S. et Tuffreau A. 1994) et à Riencourt-les-Bapaumes ( Tuffreau A. et al. 1991 ; Ameloot-Van Der Heijden N. 1994). En Afrique du Sud, le cas de l'Howieson's Poort est tout aussi surprenant, avec une production laminaire essentiellement axée sur la production d'un seul type objet retouché (Lombard M. 2005 ;Soriano S. et al. 2007 ;Porraz G. et al. 2008 ;Villa P. et al. 2010). ...
... ).Abb. 1c: Vergleich zwischen Howiesons Poort und Levallois Kerntechnologie, nachVilla et al. 2010. tion sind in Afrika gut belegt, z.B. aus der Kapthurin Formation in Kenia, wo Inventare auf ca. ...
... For example, analyses of the recovered human remains have contributed to our understanding of the evolution of modern human anatomy (e.g., Rightmire and Deacon, 1991;Churchill et al., 1996;Grine et al., 1998;Rightmire and Deacon, 2001;Grine et al., 2017). The shellfish and fish remains from the site provided notable information on early exploitation of coastal resources (Thackeray, 1988;Von den Driesch, 2004;Van Niekerk, 2011;Langejans et al., 2012Langejans et al., , 2017, and lithic analyses contributed towards understanding of MSA technological strategies (Thackeray, 1989;Wurz, 1999Wurz, , 20022012Wurz et al., 2003;Villa et al., 2010). The faunal data have been discussed in the context of subsistence behavior (Klein, 1976(Klein, , 1989Milo, 1998) and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions (e.g. ...
Article
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In this paper the new excavations at Klasies River main site are introduced and the first results presented and linked with previous work, establishing a baseline for future reporting. Data from the earliest phase of the SAS member, comprising the basal SASU and SASL sub-members from caves 1 and 1A are discussed. A new U-Th date of 126.0 ± 1.5 ka on flowstone associated with fallen tufa material within the base of the SASU sub-member provides a maximum age for this part of the sequence. The lowermost SASU sub-member formed most likely around 100 000 years ago during a period associated with increased precipitation whereas the age of the underlying SASL sub-member is uncertain. The SASU sub-member contains in situ deposits that include hearths, in contrast to the underlying SASL sub-member that was subject to post depositional disturbance. Despite the different site formation processes the lithic industry of both sub-members is similar although quartz utilization is somewhat more prominent in the SASL sub-member. The main reduction strategy involves a parallel uni-directional convergent method to produce quartzite blade and point blanks with rare retouch. Relatively more browsing fauna and riparian species, indicating more closed environments, occur in the SASU layers. The older SASL sub-member, not previously described as an independent unit, contains relatively more grazers suggesting drier and more open habitats. It is vital to link evidence from coastal sites such as Klasies River to data from the interior to promote insight into modern human origins from a wider landscape perspective. The work of James Brink, to whom this paper is dedicated, is invaluable in developing this connection.
... Models of our species' behavioural origins often extrapolate site-based evidence to landscape scale interactions (e.g. d 'Errico et al. 2017;Mackay et al. 2014a;Marean 2010;McCall 2007;Porraz et al. 2013;Powell et al. 2009;Villa et al. 2010). Southern Africa's documented Late Pleistocene Will et al. (2015) (N.B. since this publication, the far eastern scatter of UPK 7 has been assigned the new locality name 'UPK 9') Archaeol Anthropol Sci (2019) 11:5851-5877 archaeological record mostly derives from rock shelters. ...
Article
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The original version of this article, unfortunately, contained error. Modifications have been made to the Introduction, Results/observations, Figures and figure citations. The original article has been corrected.
... Models of our species' behavioural origins often extrapolate site-based evidence to landscape scale interactions (e.g. d 'Errico et al. 2017;Mackay et al. 2014a;Marean 2010;McCall 2007;Porraz et al. 2013;Powell et al. 2009;Villa et al. 2010). Southern Africa's documented Late Pleistocene archaeological record mostly derives from rock shelters. ...
Data
The following link to our Open Science Framework project provides open access to the Phillips et al. raw data, R code, and manuscript text (https://osf.io/cxta4/)
... Models of our species' behavioural origins often extrapolate site-based evidence to landscape scale interactions (e.g. d 'Errico et al. 2017;Mackay et al. 2014a;Marean 2010;McCall 2007;Porraz et al. 2013;Powell et al. 2009;Villa et al. 2010). Southern Africa's documented Late Pleistocene Will et al. (2015) (N.B. since this publication, the far eastern scatter of UPK 7 has been assigned the new locality name 'UPK 9') Archaeol Anthropol Sci (2019) 11:5851-5877 archaeological record mostly derives from rock shelters. ...
Article
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Open-air archaeology plays a limited role in southern African Late Pleistocene research, with most studies focused on rock shelter assemblages. Recently, archaeologists have noted discrepancies in the composition of Late Pleistocene lithic assemblages between some of the region’s open-air and rock shelter sites. For example, although relatively abundant in rock shelters, Late Pleistocene Later Stone Age (LSA, c. 44–12 kcal. BP) bipolar cores are rare in open-air contexts. In this paper, we assess this discrepancy by testing for differential preservation of specific artefact classes and sizes in semi-arid open-air conditions. We placed a replicated assemblage of miniaturised cores and flakes on an archaeologically sterile sediment surface in the Doring River Valley (South Africa) and recorded their movements over 22 months. Our results indicate that bipolar and freehand cores moved comparable distances within the study interval and that surface slope is the strongest predictor of miniaturised tool movement.We also show that (1) relatively flat lithics move disproportionately more and (2) random artefact orientations do not preclude local (i.e. metre) scale artefact transport. In terms of the archaeology of our study area, the observed clustering of surface artefacts on sediment bodies likely results from their recent exposure. Our data suggest that the paucity of open-air bipolar artefacts in Late Pleistocene LSA assemblages may have more to do with human behavioural variability at landscape scales than differential preservation. Southern Africa’s rich rock shelter record is, therefore, unlikely to represent the full suite of prehistoric hunter-gatherer behaviours. SpringerNature SharedIt Full-text: http://rdcu.be/I5Tn
... Indeed, a single variable proved sufficient to discriminate between the two groups: the exterior platform angle. The backing flakes displayed either a steep or medium angle and the retouch flakes Clarkson et al. (2009); C, Klasies River, South Africa, after Villa, Soriano, Teyssandier, and Wurz (2010). an acute angle. ...
Article
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This study presents a new method for the detection of backed artifact industries through the identification of backing debitage. The waste flakes produced during backing retouch are found to have a combination of unique attributes that distinguish them from other small retouch and core reduction flakes. Experimentally produced flakes are compared with an assemblage from a mid-late Holocene site in southeastern Australia, which contains multiple backed artifact production events, including a waste-flake-to-backed-artifact refit. It is shown that the waste flakes in the experimental work hold the same diagnostically distinct attributes as the flakes seen in the archaeological assemblage. This provides compelling evidence for the ability to classify backed artifact waste flakes and identify backed artifact production events in the absence of the finished artifact. The small size of the backing debitage and the implications this has for screen size selection are also discussed.
... As the two assemblages are small, we did not apply the sorting procedures used by us in the analysis of several assemblages from the Middle Stone Age [23][24][25][26][27] or the Lower and Middle Paleolithic [21]. Only fragments without knapping features and pieces too rolled to be studied were rejected. ...
Article
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In the second half of the 19th century Pleistocene faunas were discovered in two sites, Sedia del Diavolo and Monte delle Gioie, contained in deposits of the Aniene River in the area of Rome (Latium, Italy). Fieldwork by A.C. Blanc in the late 1930’s proved the association of fauna and lithic industry within fluvial deposits interbedded with volcanoclastic layers. A human femoral diaphysis and a metatarsal were later identified in the faunal assemblage from Sedia del Diavolo and evaluated as Neandertal. The lithic assemblages from these two sites were the basis of the definition of the Protopontinian by M. Taschini, which she viewed as a late Middle Pleistocene industry very similar to the later, Upper Pleistocene Pontinian industries, thought to be characteristic of the Latium Mousterian. The chronostratigraphic framework of the Aniene river deposits has been recently updated and the lithic assemblages from these two sites are now confidently dated between 295 and 290 ka, close to the transition from MIS 9 to MIS 8. They fit chronologically between the industries of layers m and d from Torre in Pietra, a site 26 km northwest of Rome. The presence of the Levallois debitage is indisputable yet it occurs within an original technical context, different from what is known in other early occurrences of the Levallois. The date confirms the proposed chronology for the early Levallois in Europe. More importantly these two assemblages demonstrate that this technology can emerge in more diversified contexts than usually described. This suggests that its dispersal in Europe may have been rapid.
... The European Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic also provide an assortment of blade based backed artefacts (Bachechi, et al., 1997, Kuhn, 2002, Straus, 2002, as does the Late Pleistocene and Holocene sequences of India and Sri Lanka (Abeyratne, 1994, James and Petraglia, 2005, Petraglia, et al., 2009a, Petraglia, et al., 2009b, Roberts, et al., 2015. Finally, the microliths and backed bladelets of the African LSA and Epipalaeolithic (Ambrose, 2002, Barton, et al., 2013, Bouzouggar, et al., 2008, Olszewski, et al., 2011, Wadley, 1993, as well as those microliths of the South African Howiesons Poort that were made on blade blanks (Clarkson, 2010, Lewis, et al., 2014, Soriano, et al., 2015, Soriano, et al., 2007, Villa, et al., 2010, Wurz, 1999, Wurz and Lombard, 2007, offer an opportunity to apply this method. ...
... From a global perspective, the appearance of geometric microliths signals the development of hafted armatures (Lombard and Pargeter 2008), which some consider to have been a critical evolutionary advantage, enabling Homo sapiens to colonize inhospitable territories throughout Eurasia (Sisk and Shea 2011). Ranged projectile technology was invented and reinvented several times throughout MIS 4 and MIS 3 in different parts of the world, as early as c. 65 ka in South Africa (e.g., Thackeray 1992;Villa et al. 2010). Projectile armatures appear intermittently throughout MIS 3 in East Africa (Diez-Martin et al. 2009;Brandt et al. 2012;Gliganic et al. 2012;Gutherz et al. 2014;Shipton et al. 2018;Tryon et al. 2018), the Levant (Marks 1983;Kuhn et al. 2009;Bosch et al. 2015), the Zagros region (e.g., Ghasidian 2010;Otte et al. 2011), and South Asia (Sali 1989;Petraglia et al. 2009;Mishra et al. 2013). ...
Article
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Despite its significant geographic position along the southern corridor into and out of Africa, little is known of the period between 70 and 12 thousand years ago in South Arabia. The existing archeological data come from a handful of lithic surface scatters and buried sites with broad chronological constraints. Here, we report the open-air site of Matafah, a stratified deposit in the Wadi Ghadun drainage system of Dhofar, southern Oman. The accretional terrace discovered at Matafah is composed of low-energy overbank sediments interstratified with cemented layers of fluvial gravels, eolian sands, and hillslope deposits. Three discrete archeological horizons were excavated from the 2.5-m stratigraphic sequence, including Holocene assemblages that overlie a heretofore-unknown assemblage type with geometric microliths. Optically stimulated luminescence age estimates bracket this lower assemblage between 33 and 30 thousand years ago, providing the earliest evidence for the use of projectile armatures in the Arabian Peninsula.
... Some of the papers focus on transitions between stages (e.g. Villa et al. 2010;Vogelsang et al. 2010), while others examine single stages (e.g. Hunt, Gilbertson, and Rushworth 2007;Jacobs et al. 2008). ...
Article
We report a study in which we systematically reviewed the recent literature dealing with human-environment interaction in prehistory. We first identified the 165 most highly cited papers published between 2005 and 2015. We then identified the major research themes covered in the sample of papers and assessed whether the themes fall into clusters and/or vary greatly in popularity. Subsequently, we identified potentially important lacunae. Our review identified dozens of themes and four major clusters: 1) improving our reconstructions of past environments; 2) the impact of climate change on past human societies; 3) human adaptation to past environmental conditions; and 4) human impacts on past environments. We also identified several gaps that led us to make a number of suggestions for future work. One is to pay more attention to the epistemology of causality. A second is to take into account nonlinearity when considering causal relationships. A third is to study the impact of chronological uncertainty on analyses. Lastly, our review revealed that there are differences between the aspects of human-environment interaction in prehistory that interest scholars and those that interest policy-makers and the general public. This needs to be addressed for obvious reasons.
... The production of geometric artefacts is commonly considered closely related to the presence of an innovative technology connected to the concept of composite tool. This has been demonstrated by recent studies (on use-wears, micro-residues and compound adhesive traces) (Lombard, Pergeter 2008;Wadley, Mohapi 2008;Villa et al. 2010;Klempererová 2012;Lombard 2012) showing that segments could be hafted (serially or separately) in a variety of ways in order to obtain multi-task tools such as knives and hunting weapons (darts and perhaps also arrows). In accordance with this last interpretation several lunates of Grotta del Cavallo display impact damages at their ends. ...
Article
During the second half of isotopic stage 3, at the dawn of the Upper Paleolithic, different cultural entities (final Mousterian, Uluzzian and Protoaurignacian) are present in Central-Southern Italy. Whilst the attribution of the final Mousterian and of the Protoaurignacian to the Neanderthals and Modern Humans respectively has been commonly accepted by the scientific community, after the recent attribution to Homo sapiens of the two deciduous molars found in 1964 by Palma di Cesnola at Grotta del Cavallo (Salento-Apulia), there has been heated debate about the makers of the Uluzzian. The discussion mainly revolves around the integrity of the Uluzzian deposit of Grotta del Cavallo and the association of the teeth with the Uluzzian materials. On the grounds of the available evidence the authors argue for the assignment of the Uluzzian to Homo sapiens and for its possible allochthonous origin from the African Continent.
... The site displays several examples of behavioral modernity-carved ochre and hunting large ungulates (Milo, 1998;d'Errico et al., 2012b). analysis of lithic material from KRM and Rose Cottage suggests an environmental driver for the disappearance of the HP during the glacial/interglacial transition ~60 ka (Villa et al., 2010). Although KRM is within 160 kilometers of KEH-1, it contains no occupations representing MIS2, when the ocean retreated. ...
Thesis
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Knysna Eastern Heads Cave 1 (KEH-1) demonstrates varying human occupation over the course of multiple ocean transgressions and regressions in the late Middle Stone Age and early Later Stone Age (46,000 to 18,000 Cal BP). The position of the sites on the shallow South African coastal shelf offered occupants potential access to riverine, coastal, and terrestrial resources, as high and low sea stands drastically altered the location of these resources. It has been hypothesized that the dearth of sites dated to MIS 2 on the south coast, a time when the ocean was 75-90 km distant, is due to a preference for dense and high protein marine resources, drawing early modern humans out onto the now-submerged Paleo-Agulhas plain. Possible explanations for the recurring occupation at KEH-1 during this time are 1) that use of marine foods was only one of several subsistence strategies employed by early humans; 2) the intersection of terrestrial and riverine resources around Knysna rivaled coastal resources; and 3) competition and territoriality caused by dense marine resources on the coast forced groups into the interior. Zooarchaeological analysis of faunal remains deposited during the MIS 3-2 transition at KEH-1 examined variation in the intensity of long bone marrow processing as a proxy for changing nutritional stress. Approximately 2400 faunal specimens were analyzed across the sequence. Although the degree of post-depositional fragmentation varies throughout the sequence, the high rate of long bone fragmentation (84% with an incomplete circumference) at KEH-1 is most likely caused by human processing, with minimal carnivore activity. The higher frequencies of green fractures (54%) when the coastline is distant are statistically significantly different (Χ=2804, DF=16, P=0) from the frequencies of green bone fractures when the coast is near (31 and 43%). These results suggest that the long bones were processed more intensely during glacial periods, despite the availability of diverse terrestrial resources.
... Recent research has demonstrated variability within the Levallois system, and the nature of distinct but broadly similar methods such as those of the Taramsan as well as the 'Howiesons Poort' cores of South Africa (Villa et al. 2010). It can be argued that both of these latter reduction methods, as well as Nubian Levallois technology, represent trajectories of change from a 'normal' Levallois base. ...
Chapter
Nubian Levallois' lithic technology has been found from South Africa to India, it occurs sporadically over a period of more than two hundred thousand years, and it appears to be associated with at least two hominin species. Despite this, proponents of the 'Nubian Complex' argue that this technocomplex-often, but not exclusively, defined by the presence of Nubian Levallois technology-offers a strong culture historical signal. This argument claims that the Nubian Complex is an originally Northeast African entity, dating to Marine Isotope Stage 5, and that by tracing the distribution of Nubian Levallois technology it is possible to trace the spread of Homo sapiens from Northeast Africa. In light of these bold claims, it is important to test the reality and usefulness of the Nubian Complex idea. In this paper I review the history of the Nubian Complex, evaluate sites assigned to it, and consider the characteristics and significance of Nubian Levallois technology. This review suggests that the original reasons for defining the Nubian Complex were flawed, definitions of it are overly-variable and inconsistent, and that the concept is driving misleading models that are actively harming interpretations of the record. It should therefore be abandoned. Perhaps the most telling criticism of the Nubian Complex is that even its proponents do not agree on which sites should be included (e.g. Bir Tarfawi). I explore the possibility that Nubian Levallois technology-which should be disentangled from the culture-historical concept of the 'Nubian Complex'-represents a case of convergent evolution and identify avenues for future research. This reorientation facilitates insights into the behavioral significance of Nubian Levallois technology, in terms of factors such as standardization and mobility strategies.
... Regarding the retouched tool component, we applied both the conventional taxonomy used in most South African studies (e.g. Singer and Wymer 1982;Wurz 2000Wurz , 2002Wadley 2005Wadley , 2013Lombard 2006;Villa et al. 2010;Lombard et al. 2012;Will and Conard 2019) using terms such as unifacial and bifacial points, denticulates, scrapers etc., as well as that developed by Bader et al. (2018), which aims to highlight specific morphological and thus physical features of the tools present, e.g. broad points and narrow points. ...
... This additional technical investment is supposed to enhances the performance by improving the prehensive grip or to adapt the tool for hafting. Unaware of the precise function, it is the standardization of prepared backed implements which is considered as an indicator of "modern behavior" due to the degree of problem solving behind their manufacture and the growing importance they acquire within MP-EUP and Middle Stone Age contexts [76][77][78][79][80]. ...
Article
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In the Late Middle Paleolithic of Central Europe, two main cultural complexes have been distinguished: the Micoquian or Keilmessergruppe (KMG), and the Mousterian. Their differences mainly consist in the frequence of some retouched tools and the presence of bifacial technology. When these industries coexist, one element of discussion is the application of different concepts to manufacture tools with the same techno-functionality. This is particularly true for backed artifacts, such as Keilmesser (backed, asymmetrical bifacially-shaped knives) opposed to flake-tools equipped with a natural or knapped back. We conducted a techno-functional analysis of the backed tools from the G-Layer-Complex of Sesselfelsgrotte, one of the main Late Middle Paleolithic sequences in Central Europe, characterized by a combination of KMG and Mousterian aspects. In order to better understand the morpho-metrical data, 3D scans were used for recording technical features and performing semi-automatic geometric morphometrics. Results indicate that the techno-functional schemes of Keilmesser show a moderate variability and often overlap with the schemes of other typological groups. Within bifacial backed knives, a process of imitation of unifacial flake tools’ functionaly was recognized particularly in the cutting edge manufacturing. Keilmesser proved to be the long-life, versatile version of backed flake-tools, also due to the recurrent valence as both tool and core. This is why Keilmesser represent an ideal strategic blank when a mobile and multi-functional tool is needed. Based on these data, it is assumed that the relationship between Mousterian and KMG is deeply rooted and the emergence of KMG aspects could be related to constrained situations characterizing the long cold stages of the Early Weichselian. A higher regional mobility caused by the comparably low predictability of resources characterized the subsistence tactics of Neanderthal groups especially at the borders of their overall distribution. For this reason, Keilmesser could have represented an ecological answer before possibly becoming a marker of cultural identity.
... Diagnostic impact fractures [DIF] remain the most commonly applied use-wear to identity stone projectile use (Iovita et al., 2014;Maloney, 2020a;Villa et al., 2009aVilla et al., , 2009bVilla et al., , 2010Villa and Lenoir, 2006;Wilkins et al., 2012). DIF are characteristic negative scars which can form on stone tools via longitudinal impacts with any hard material; including hide, bone, stone, and wood. ...
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Development of projectile hunting tools remains a significant tenant associated with modern humans' adaptive and migratory success. Technological innovations which accompanied the human odyssey between the now submerged ice-age shelves of Sunda and Sahul (the first major sea crossings by our species) are amongst the most decisive topics of human evolution today. With recent discoveries affirming the Indonesian archipelago's importance as a hub for these studies, technological records remain essential to reveal details of early human life across this strategic region. One such adaption, projectile technology, may appear quintessentially an early human technology, although this review shows projectile tools are poorly documented across Island South East Asia (ISEA), prior to the onset of major climatic change at the close of the last ice-age. Records of hunting and subsistence related to projectile technology, include flaked stone and osseous tools, rock art, and historical records – each reviewed here, to produce a vanguard methodological approach for identification of projectile tools in the early archaeological records of ISEA. Traceology backed by empirical data and contextualised within tool life histories, are found to be of dire need to advance the archaeological understanding of technological adaptations. Methodological advances elsewhere, outlay the latest techniques in recognising projectile tools, here adapted to the unique and globally relevant study area, spanning the extant lands and islands of Eastern Sunda, to Sahul.
... Identification of possible stone tool hafting residues and diagnostic impact fractures (DIF) used microscopy at varying magnifications and lighting, following widely used methods (e.g. Maloney, 2020;Villa et al., 2010;Wilkins et al., 2012). This initial study investigated (both macro-and microscopically) all complete flakes for the presence of the four main DIF: (1) unifacial and (2) bifacial spin-off DIF, (3) bending initiated and step or hinge terminating DIF, and (4) single burin scar DIF. ...
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Recent archaeological excavations at Liang Jon, a limestone rockshelter in the East Kalimantan province of Indonesian Borneo, have revealed a cultural sequence covering the period from around 16,700 calibrated radiocarbon years before present (16.7 kyr cal BP) until the late Holocene—a time of dynamic environmental, social, and economic change throughout Island Southeast Asia. There are few published archaeological sequences from this period of human history from Borneo, a geographically strategic region in the wider early human settlement of the region, highlighting the importance of our initial finds and dating work at Liang Jon. We describe our excavation and present chronostratigraphic and initial summary data to outline the significance this cultural sequence has in reconciling archaeological evidence and dated rock art records from early human cultural behaviour at the easternmost margin of the Late Pleistocene continental landmass of Sunda. Summary data, including stone artefacts, marine shell beads, faunal remains, and a pre-Austronesian burial, contributes to our understanding of regional trends associated with widespread cultural and technological change during the Pleistocene to Holocene transition, when the present-day island of Borneo was formed.
Thesis
The aim of this thesis is to systematically analyze innovations during the Paleolithic. Innovations in archaeological remains are one of the most important sources for our understanding of technological change and the cognitive evolution of mankind. In Paleolithic research, innovations are often associated with an increase in behavioral and cognitive complexity. New technological solution, manifested in new tools or objects, are thought to be important steps on the long road to behavioral complexity. However, innovations can only be connected to an increased complexity if they are thoroughly analyzed. It is crucial to understand what is really new about an innovation to evaluate its significance in regard to new levels of behavioral or cognitive complexity. The main goal of this thesis was to develop a scientific approach for analyzing innovations in archaeological artifacts. The approach was designed to reconstruct past behaviors rather than focusing merely on objects. In this context, innovations are understood as a mosaic of traditional and new components. Therefore, looking at innovations involves not only identifying new artifact types, raw materials, or production techniques but also innovative contexts, behaviors, solutions, and problem perceptions. The approach is based on five main levels of interpretation: (1) classification, (2) behavioral reconstruction, (3) behavioral complexity, (4) cognitive background and (5) cognitive complexity. The objective is to connect archaeological findings with complexity. The first step is to reconstruct the behavioral sequence behind an archaeological object using two methods: cognigrams and effective chains. The second step is to infer the problem-solution-distance from this behavioral interpretation. The problem-solution-distance is considered as one possible measure of behavioural complexity. The approach was used to analyze innovative behaviors during the Middle Stone Age (MSA) of South Africa (ca. 300 ka - 20 ka). The MSA was an important period in human history. It saw the onset of several new behavioral traits, which are thought to be key innovations on the way to a complexity, comparable with those of present-day humans. Two of these traits are the production and use of bone artefacts and heat treatment (the intentional modification of stone properties by heat exposure). The main goal of the thesis was, first to analyze which aspects of the MSA bone artefacts and heat treatment are actually new, and second, to investigate whether those aspects are indicators of new levels of complexity. Such a study is of utmost importance for our understanding of the behavioural and cognitive evolution of Homo sapiens. A distinct capacity for innovation as well as for complex behavior is thought to be a characteristic of contemporary humans. The study showed that both key innovations are important indicators of behavioral complexity and to some extent also of complex cognition. For the first time in human history, bone is used to produce a variety of tools. The production of these bone tools indicates a new technological system, which was specifically designed for this specific raw material. The bone tools do not imply a distinct expansion of the behavioral repertoire of MSA people, but they do amplify their scope of action. Now they can use bone in addition to stone to meet their everyday challenges. The bone tools do imply new behavioral patterns and innovative ways of thinking. This is evident in novel ways to solve problems. Instead of choosing direct approaches, problem solving comprises the complex interplay of a multitude of problem-solutions. Moreover, by analyzing bone tools and their associated behaviors, a major change in the role of prey becomes evident. Animals are no longer hunted for meat only, but also for various other important raw materials. Therefore, prey is increasingly perceived as a solution to solve several primary problems and thus becomes a so called “primary-poly-problem”. This results in the emergence of three-dimensional operational networks without clear cut onsets or end points. This also shows a distinct expansion of the use of resources and of the resource space. Heat treatment, as the second analyzed innovation of the MSA, does imply complex cognition. Furthermore, it facilitates new technologies of stone tool production. In this regard, heat treatment becomes an innovative factor for other technologies. Moreover, heat treatment signals an obvious extension of the problem-solution- distance as the operational sequence of producing a stone tools is prolonged substantially. This signifies a clear enhancement of complexity. The study allowed new insights into innovations during the MSA. By looking at whole behaviors rather than merely focusing on new objects and technologies the implications of two key innovations (bone tools and heat treatment) could be unraveled. Thus, it was possible to better understand what’s really new during this important period in human history and to shed light on the complex way to a behavioural complexity comparable to those of present-day humans. Key words: innovation, Middle Stone Age, South Africa, cognigrams, effective chains, bone tools, heat treatment
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This article introduces a southern African Late Pleistocene lithic technological complex, based on the evidence of the regional reference stratigraphy of Apollo 11 rock shelter. Excavated decades ago and yet not thoroughly described and defined, these typologically informal assemblages are reliably dated to approximately 24-14 ka BP. By providing the first detailed lithic technological study on material from Apollo 11, four major aims are pursued here: (1) to describe and define this complex by collecting and summarising relevant data; (2) to indicate ways to enhance the understanding of typologically informal assemblages; (3) to discriminate lithic technological strategies of prehistoric hunter-gatherers during the marine isotope stage (MIS) 2 at the margins of the Namib Desert; and (4) to set a first framework to contextualise results with the broader coeval subcontinental evidence.
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The use of bipolar (on anvil) methods for resource exploitation has been identified in the archaeological record from the late Pliocene through to the Holocene. During all phases of human evolution, bipolar knapping and wedging were applied by different hominin species in a wide range of ecological settings. Studies on lithic bipolar methods have mainly focused on understanding the functional aspects of this technology. This paper explores the variability of the application of these methods during the Paleolithic on a macro scale. Through the meta-analysis of published data from 167 sites, it is posited that the use of bipolar methods may have had a significant impact on hominin expansion, adaptation, and survival strategies. Furthermore, the recurrent use of bipolar methods is not only an indicator of its success as an adaptive strategy, but also of how hominins were able to evaluate different types of efficiency through time.
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The Middle to Later Stone Age transition is a critical period of human behavioral change that has been variously argued to pertain to the emergence of modern cognition, substantial population growth, and major dispersals of Homo sapiens within and beyond Africa. However, there is little consensus about when the transition occurred, the geographic patterning of its emergence, or even how it is manifested in the stone tool technology that is used to define it. Here, we examine a long sequence of lithic technological change at the cave site of Panga ya Saidi, Kenya, that spans the Middle and Later Stone Age and includes human occupations in each of the last five Marine Isotope Stages. In addition to the stone artifact technology, Panga ya Saidi preserves osseous and shell artifacts, enabling broader considerations of the covariation between different spheres of material culture. Several environmental proxies contextualize the artifactual record of human behavior at Panga ya Saidi. We compare technological change between the Middle and Later Stone Age with on-site paleoenvironmental manifestations of wider climatic fluctuations in the Late Pleistocene. The principal distinguishing feature of Middle from Later Stone Age technology at Panga ya Saidi is the preference for fine-grained stone, coupled with the creation of small flakes (miniaturization). Our review of the Middle to Later Stone Age transition elsewhere in eastern Africa and across the continent suggests that this broader distinction between the two periods is in fact widespread. We suggest that the Later Stone Age represents new short use-life and multicomponent ways of using stone tools, in which edge sharpness was prioritized over durability.
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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 hypotheses for notch formation (blank production, intentional notching, hafting, projectile use, and trampling). The experimental reference collection was compared with archaeological micro-notches and a large sample of other archaeological quartz pieces (including bladelets, bipolar blanks, flakes and retouched pieces). This allowed us to evaluate the causes of micro-notch formation in the studied assemblage. Results indicate two novelties in the Howiesons Poort hunting technology at Sibudu: the use of quartz barbs and non-retouched quartz blanks. It seems that in addition to backed pieces (segments, obliquely backed points, etc.), unretouched pieces were mounted as elements in hunting weapons during the Howiesons Poort techno-tradition. Seven probable and 29 tentative barbs were identified. We thus present one of the strongest and oldest bodies of evidence for the use of barbs as projectile elements.
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Occupational intensity is a common theme in current research and has been linked to significant demographic trends in the past. The Late Pleistocene in the southern Cape may be especially important in understanding the impacts of socio-demographic change given its association with developments in 'modern' human behaviour. The ubiquity of archaeo-faunal remains at Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites makes these convenient datasets for documenting site-specific occupational patterns. In this paper, zooarchaeological and taphonomic data are evaluated as proxies for occupational intensity, and occupational trends are explored in the southern Cape. Zooarchaeological and taphonomic data from three southern Cape MSA sites-Klipdrift Shelter, Blombos Cave and Pinnacle Point-are compared with previously determined higher and lower occupational levels within each site to assess the value of these proxies in tracking temporal changes in settlement intensity. The results show that, while frequencies of small mammals and larger ungulates often covary with occupational levels, these are problematic indicators because of the impact of carnivores. Similarly, faunal diversity generally corresponds well with increasing human occupations but is a problematic proxy because of the effects of animal activity. Anthropogenic bone surface modifications appear to be effective in tracking occupational patterns, with trampling a particularly useful indicator. Faunal and shellfish density, and transverse bone fracture patterns, are valuable proxies of occupational intensity at all sites. Generally, the data suggests close links between occupational intensity at these sites and marine transgressions. Evidence of increased exploitation of small game in the later MSA may imply periods of subsistence intensification possibly linked to increased demographic pressure during Marine Isotope Stage 4.
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The fossil record of early Homo sapiens in the African Pleistocene remains sparse. In contrast to its prominent position regarding the cultural evolution of our species, southern Africa plays a secondary role in narratives regarding human biological origins. Reasons for this are a limited and fragmentary fossil record from the Middle Stone Age (MSA), further complicated by a number of human remains coming from contexts lacking chronostratigraphic information. Similar to the southern African MSA overall, the rich archeological deposits of Sibudu stand in opposition to its scarce record of hominin fossils. Here, we report on three human teeth (SIB-1, 2, 3) from securely stratified MSA deposits at Sibudu dating between > 77 and 64 ka. The teeth include two lower deciduous molars (Ldm2) with heavy occlusal wear and one fragment. We focus on describing the find and archeological context, followed by an initial assessment of the fossils and their contextualization within the African record. The juvenile teeth derive from rich and well-stratified archeological deposits, associated with a Howiesons Poort industry at ~ 64 ka from PGS3 (SIB-3) and pre-Still Bay occupations in strata Casper and Danny at > 77 ka (SIB-1, 2). The latter constitute the oldest human fossils from Sibudu. Metric and morphological analyses of the Ldm2s (SIB-2, 3) find a combination of archaic traits (e.g., mid-trigonid crest) and crown dimensions that overlap with ranges of both Pleistocene and recent Homo sapiens. These results match with a population of Homo sapiens that lies chronologically between the earliest members of the species and recent humans.
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Recent work indicated the possibility of hunting with poisoned bone arrowheads more than 60 thousand years ago in southern Africa. The interpretation rests on only a handful of bone points from Middle Stone Age contexts. Two southern African techno-complexes characterised by the knapping of backed microliths have, however, been linked to bow hunting in the past. These are the Wilton, dating from roughly 8000 years until a few centuries ago, and the Howiesons Poort dating to roughly between 67,000 and 58,000 years ago. Here I use the tip cross-sectional method to assess the likelihood of bow hunting with poisoned stone-tipped/barbed arrows for both of these techno-complexes. The results demonstrate that bow hunting with poisoned arrows was probably the preferred hunting strategy during the Holocene Wilton phase. Hunters may have introduced poisoned arrows to their arsenal during the much older Pleistocene Howiesons Poort phase, but they were probably more dependent on hunting with a combination of unpoisoned arrows and javelins (throwing spears). I also show that, during both phases, hunting with poisoned arrows may have been more frequent on the Savanna and Grassland biomes with summer and year-round rainfall regimes, instead of in the Fynbos winter-rain zone.
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The Howiesons Poort (HP) of southern Africa plays an important role in models on the early behavioral evolution of Homo sapiens. The HP is often portrayed as a coherent MSA industry characterized by early complex material culture. Recent work has emphasized parallel technological change through time across southern Africa potentially driven by ecological adaptations or demographic change. Here we examine patterns of diachronic variation within the HP and evaluate potential causal factors behind these changes. We test previous temporal assessments of the technocomplex at the local and regional level based on high-resolution quantitative data on HP lithic assemblages from Sibudu (KwaZulu-Natal) and comparisons with other southern African sites. At Sibudu, consistent unidirectional change in lithic technology characterizes the HP sequence. The results show a gradual reduction in typical HP markers such as the proportion of blades, backed pieces, and HP cores, as well as declining size of blades and backed artifacts. Quantitative comparisons with seven HP sites in South Africa suggest that lithic technology varies between regions over time instead of following similar changes. Concerning hypotheses of causal drivers, directional changes in lithic technology at Sibudu covary with shifting hunting patterns towards larger-sized bovids and a gradual opening of the vegetation. In contrast, variation in lithic technology shows little association with site use, mobility patterns or demographic expansions. Unlike at Sibudu, diachronic changes at other HP sites such as Diepkloof, Klasies River and Klipdrift appear to be associated with aspects of mobility, technological organization and site use. The regional diachronic patterns in the HP partly follow paleoclimatic zones, which could imply different ecological adaptations and distinct connection networks over time. Divergent and at times decoupled changes in lithic traits across sites precludes monocausal explanations for the entire HP, supporting more complex models for the observed technological trajectories.
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Regarding the Palaeolithic lithic technology of China, one opinion holds that Mode 1 technology persists for most of the Pleistocene. Using new archaeological findings and research achievements, this paper presents a brief summary of lithic technologies existing in China from the beginning of the Middle Pleistocene to ca. 40,000 years ago. Results show that during this time period lithic technologies in China exhibit clear diversity and complexity. In particular, since the Late Pleistocene, various technological complexes occur. These include: an Acheulean techno-complex characterized by large cutting tools, such as handaxes, picks and cleavers; a small flake tool techno-complex that features discrete tool types, refined retouch on blanks, and an increase in discoidal core flaking; a Mousterian techno-complex represented by Levallois cores and points; and a Mousterian techno-complex characterized by scrapers with Quina retouch. Different techno-complexes likely indicate that human groups possessed different cultural traditions. This provides a new perspective to discuss human behavioural adaptation to various environments and inter-regional dispersals and contact among different population groups.
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The Howiesons Poort is a technological tradition within the Middle Stone Age of southern Africa. This technological tradition shows different characteristics, technical and symbolic (the engraving of ostrich eggshell containers, the appearance of engraved ochre, formal bone tool technology, compound adhesives for hafting and a great variability in hunting techniques), which only developed in an extensive manner much later in other parts of the world. Therefore, the African Middle Stone Age through the material of the Howiesons Poort holds some of the oldest symbolic and complex technologies documented in prehistory. For some researchers, the Howiesons Poort still represents an unusual and ephemeral technological development within the Middle Stone Age, probably related to environmental stress, and as such there are numerous hypotheses for it as an environmental adaptation, whereas for others, on the contrary, it implies that complex cognition, deduced from the elaborated technology and symbolic expressions, was fully developed in the Middle Stone Age.
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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 artifacts—small, sharp blades likely used as insets in composite tools. Although backed artifacts were manufactured for thousands of years before the Howiesons Poort, this period is marked by a phenomenal increase in their production. In this paper we test both social and environmental hypotheses to explain this phenomenon. We correlate environmental data with changing frequencies of backed artifact production at Sibudu and assess morphological similarity across seven sites in southern Africa. We find that these artifacts are made to a similar template across different regions and that their increased production correlates with multiple paleo-environmental proxies. When compared to an Australian outgroup, the backed artifacts from the seven southern African sites cluster within the larger shape space described by the Australian group. This leads us to argue that the observed standardized across southern Africa is related to cultural similarities and marks a strengthening of long-distance social ties during the MIS4.
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This paper describes an Amudian, laminar, lithic assemblage from Qesem Cave, Israel. The Amudian is part of the Acheulo-Yabrudian (Mugharan) complex of the Levant, generally dated to 400–200 kyr. We show that blade production dominates the assemblage. The technology looks simple with little core shaping or preparation and little, if at all, core maintenance. This is also reflected in the blanks that usually have thick plain butts. Direct percussion heavy blows, deep in side the striking platform were practiced and thus over passing items are abundant. Cortex was not removed since cortical laminar items were a desired end-product, especially Naturally Backed Knives. Large, wide and thick laminar items were selected for secondary modification and the shaped items are dominated by retouched and backed laminar items with some end scrapers, burins and rare side scrapers. In general, this appears to be a simple but an efficient laminar industry – a conscious technological choice of skilled flint knappers.
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The European Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic have produced numerous series of projectile points that are highly variable in both morphology and raw material. The function of these objects has been suggested by ethnographic comparisons; archaeological context of certain discoveries; study of fracture patterns; and experimental reconstructions. These armatures indicate extremely elaborate and diverse hafting techniques. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic examples that have survived in the special preservational circumstances offered by wet environments, the shafts to which the projectile points were attached no longer exist. However, the morphometry of most of the points suggests, beginning at least with the Gravettian, attachment to relatively light shafts such as those that are propelled with the aid of a spearthrower or a bow.
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The final Middle Stone Age (MSA) stone tool assemblage from Sibudu Cave is characterized by sidescrapers, bifacial and unifacial points, hollow-based points, bifacial cutting tools and backed tools, including large, wide segments. The assemblage has been dated to between c. 33 and 35 kyr by optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), but a radiocarbon date of c. 42 000 BP is also available. This Sibudu lithic collection shows that large backed tools can be an integral part of the final MSA because no Later Stone Age (LSA) occupation occurs at the site. Sibudu data contribute to discussion of local traditions in the final MSA, of dating the final MSA, and of the presence of segments in non-Howiesons Poort and non-LSA assemblages.
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Pech-de-l'Azé I is part of a complex of Paleolithic sites (Pech I to V) located in the Perigord noir, in the Enea valley, a small tributary to the Dordogne river. Pech I is located at the entrance of a karstic tube, at the other extremity of which was found Pech-de-l'Aze II (containing “Acheuléen méridional” and middle Paleolithic deposits). Pech IV is located at the bottom of the same cliff as Pech I, 80 meters away toward the East, and preserved Middle Paleolithic deposits recently excavated by H. Dibble and S. Mc Pherron. Pech-de-l'Azé I is one of the two type-sites for the Mousterian of Acheulian tradition. Only Mousterian of acheulian tradition (MTA) occupations were recognized by R. Vaufrey, F. Bordes and us: one complex of MTA type A occupations at the bottom (layer 4), and then several MTA type B occupations. A juvenile Neandertal skull and mandible was recovered early in twenty century in one of the higher layers. In 1999, we undertook the curation (washing, labeling and organizing by layer) and the analysis of the unpublished material collected during the last excavation done in 1970-1971 by F. Bordes (14 942 coordinated remains). We also started limited excavation at the site in 2004 and 2005. We present here the first results of our inter-disciplinary research focusing on site formation processes, zooarcheology, cémentochronologie, lithic and pigment technology, as well as on use-wear analysis. Artefacts, bones and ashes from fire-places had been preserved by numerous blocks fallen from the limestone walls and roof overhang in a clayish sand matrix transported in by run-off. In consequence, and probably also because of a very fast rate of sedimentation at the site, the archaeological remains and features had been quickly fossilized and preservation is good. The size of the shelter was considerably reduced from the first and to the last occupations. Pech I sequence is shorter than the one of Pech II, not because of a massive draining of Pech I as suggested by previous authors, but because of the speed of the backward movement of the shelter higher at Pech I than at Pech II. If they were older occupations at Pech I, they've been redeposited on the hillside. ESR, U/Th and AMS C14 measurements indicate than the site was occupied right before the arrival of anatomical modern humans in this area of Western Europe, around 45 to 40 000 years ago. Combustions features and possible in-situ fire places with a circular shape covering about 50 cm2 had been found in the MTA type A layer (layer 4) during 2004 excavation and are under analyses. Micromammals, fish and reptiles remains are well preserved; they were probably mostly accumulated by bird of prey. The density of micromammals remains is not correlated with the density of archaeological material and might be a testimony of longest occupations of the site by hominids at the bottom of the sequence. Preservation of larger bone is also good: less than 30 % of the bones were affected by surface weathering, and less than 8 % of them were rounded. Large mammal remains are dominated by red deer, followed by bison and aurochs, suggesting a forested environment with open grassland during a temperate phase of IOS 3. They were clearly accumulated at the site by hominids as there is an almost complete absence of carnivore bones (except for one red fox tooth), and the number of bones showing carnivore damage is very low (less than 1 %). Additionally, 30 % of the bones show evidence of human activity (including cut-marks, burning, and percussion marks (several quartz and quartzite hammer suitable for bone breakage had been found), which is consistent with an anthropogenic assemblage that was undisturbed by carnivores before deposition. Skinning, dismembering, filleting (?) and marrow extraction (several hammer had been recovered) were done at the site in every layer. Cement analyses had been done on more than 70% of the NMI of large mammals recovered by Bordes and by us. Going up through the sequence, the season of hunting red-deer and bison got more and more precise: from all around the year in layer 4 to the end of good season only during layer 7. Most of bird bones were accumulated at the site by natural agencies, with the exception of two golden eagle phalanges which show evidence of cut-marks which produced the segmentation of the eagle finger. This is one of the very rare evidence of use of bird bone by Neandertals. Cut-marks were also found on a few beaver bones, behaviour barely documented until now for Neandertals. In 2004, a new Neandertal tooth belonging to another juvenile individual had been receovered. The lithic industry is characterised by scrapers, denticulates, cordiform and triangular bifaces, backed knifes, and elongated blanks. The manufacture of the bifaces is highly standardized across time at the site and at other MTA sites, and is understood a testimony of a specific technical tradition flourishing in Périgord around 50 000 years ago. In the MTA type A layer 4, bifaces are numerous and are a testimony of the interest of these Neanderthals groups for stone-tools suitable for travel as these bifaces were multifunctional, resharpenable and flake producer tools, as evidenced by techno-functionnal and use-wear analysis. Pech I was used to manufacture stone-tools; a number of them certainly being exported out of the site. Yet, even in a setting where raw material is abundant, lithic artefacts (and especially bifaces) had been imported at the site in layer 4. Stone-tools types are numerous in layer 4, and evidence of hafting are available for some of them. Also, an incredible collection of black pigments (more than 450), among which half of them show clear traces of use, were recovered in layer 4. The density of material is much lower in the upper layers 6 and 7 (MTA type B). Only small number of lithic had been imported at the site, and evidence of fragmentation and long-term planning of lithic production are scarce, as always recorded at other MTA type B sites. Bifaces are almost absent in these MTA type B assemblages, as well as evidence for hafting and evidence of use of pigments. Every available line of evidence, including cementochronology, is then pointing toward shorted occupation of the site during the deposition of the upper MTA type B layers, layer 6 and 7, and longer occupations of the site in layer 4. This is not surprising, considering that the size of the rock-shelter is strongly reducing from the bottom layer to the upper layer. MTA type B had always been found in stratigraphy underneath MTA type A. At Pech I, climate does not seem to vary much from MTA type A to B, as fauna spectrum stays the same across the sequence. Available radiometric measurement do not allow to separate in time these two episodes. Technological analyses of other MTA sites had shown that this tendency to manufacture tool designed for travelling is strong only during the MTA type A. And, MTA type A assemblages show more evidence of long-term planning than MTA type B assemblages. Behavioural changes from MTA A to MTA B at Pech I might be related to changes in Neandertals mobility patterns, from a logistical pattern to one that is more residential in a smaller and smaller territory. Yet, change in the use of caves, the only type of setting used in our analysis, might also have played a role; caves being used as base camps during the MTA type A and no more during the MTA type B. Yet, MTA type B open air assemblages are still to be discovered. The interdisciplinary analyses of Pech I is still on going. We hope to provide in the near future a detailed analysis from as many points of view as possible to provide precise understanding of the behaviour of some of the last Neandertals group right before the arrival of anatomical modern Humans in that aera of Western Europe.
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Together with human fossils from eastern and northern Africa, southern African specimens show that anatomically modern or near-modern people were present by 100,000 years ago, when only the Neandertals occupied Europe and different, equally nonmodern people lived in eastern Asia. However, the artifacts found with early modern or near-modern African fossils imply nonmodern, Neandertal-like behavior. Artifactual markers of fully modern behavior appeared in Africa between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago, and only then were modern Africans able to expand to Eurasia, where they swamped or replaced the Neandertals and other nonmodern humans. Archaeological food debris from the western and southern coasts of South Africa suggest that an enhanced ability to hunt and gather accompanied the artifactual advance after 50,000 years ago.
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A SCRAPER and a Levallois flake, discovered in the Mousterian levels (dated around 40,000 BC) of the Umm el Tlel site in Syria, were submitted to an organic geochemieal study to identify a black substance occurring on their surface. The shape of this black substance suggests that the organic traces are remnants of a hafting material used by Middle Palaeolithic people to glue handles onto their tools. Gas chromatography–mass spectro-metry (GC–MS) analyses of both C15+ alkanes and C15+ aromatics confirm that the black substance is a highly weathered bitumen, the source of which remains unknown. According to some diagnostic molecular information (for example, the occurrence of fluoranthene and pyrene), it seems that the raw bitumen used has been subjected to extreme temperature. The scraper and the Levallois flake described here are, to the best of our knowledge, the first reported examples of Middle Palaeolithic artefacts hutted with bitumen to handles.
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The Howieson's Poort Industry that overlies a Still Bay Industry at Sibudu has ages between 61.7 ± 1.5 and 64.7 ± 1.9 ka. The distinctive Howieson's Poort lithic assemblages are blade-rich with backed tools, especially segments. This industry is not monolithic; it shows change through time, for example, in the rock types used and in the size of segments. Hornfels and dolerite are the main rock types used throughout, but there is an intriguing use of crystal quartz for short, deep segments in the basal layers. The quartz segments seem to have been used as transversely hafted arrowheads, based on morphometric studies. Worked bone points that may have been arrowheads are present. The Industry is accompanied by a meat-procuring strategy focusing on small animals, such as the blue duiker, which are best caught in traps or nets. The Howieson's Poort Industry coincides with a mosaic of habitats: most prominent is evergreen forest in the vicinity of the shelter. Mineralogical studies suggest that there was greater humidity during these occupations than in the more recent Middle Stone Age occupations.
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Klasies River produced a body of data that has received much attention in debates on modern behaviour. The different interpretations of the cultural material mirror the way thinking on modern behaviour has developed over the past three decades. The archaeological traits associated with the Upper Palaeolithic were previously considered the standard for inferring modern behaviour. Much older well-dated and well-provenanced artefacts from Africa that are modern by Upper Palaeolithic standards necessitated re-evaluation of this model. Current theoretical developments on modern behaviour aim to link archaeology to symbolic lifeways. Art and ornamentation, together with arbitrary conventions persisting over time and space have been identified as suitable symbolic criteria to infer modern behaviour. Here I discuss why the cultural expressions at Klasies River reflect flexible conventionalized thinking for which the biological substrate may have developed in the Middle Pleistocene.
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Relative to the periods that immediately follow and precede it (which broadly encompass the Later Stone Age on the one hand and the Howieson's Poort and Still Bay Industries on the other), Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3 remains archaeologically unexplored in southern Africa. This situation is all the more striking given its importance in Western Eurasia, where Neanderthals were replaced by anatomically modern humans, and in Sahul, which was colonized de novo at this time. One reason for the neglect of MIS 3 has been the longstanding difficulty of dating beyond the limits of the radiocarbon technique, another, the assumption that human numbers in southern Africa at this time were dramatically reduced. Drawing attention to new developments in dating and palaeoenvironmental research, this paper argues that the case for population decline and aridity has been massively overstated. It reviews the archaeological record for the period 60-25 000 years ago and then sets out a series of questions that warrant attention in future research. It also offers suggestions as to how that research might best be pursued.
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Replica of prehistoric lithic points mounted as tips of arrows and spears were shot against a wide range of targets including wild boar, sheep and fish. The resulting fractures were compared with other kinds of use and trampling damages on a range of experimentally produced flint items. Some of the macro and microscopic wear traces that could be isolated and defined are considered diagnostic for the function as projectile points. A study of settlement assemblages and carcasses of hunting prey of Late Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic age revealed the same categories of wear to be frequently represented.
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Identification of bitumen used as hafting material on flint implments dated from 70000 BP at Umm el Tlel in Syria
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The presence of blades is one identifying feature of Howiesons Poort technologies, along with the presence of backed artefacts and relatively high frequencies of fine-grained rocks. Blades in this context are commonly understood to have been produced to serve as blanks for the manufacture of backed artefacts. This paper explores the relationship between blades and backed artefacts in detail, using data from the Howiesons Poort layers at the site of Diepkloof. It is found that there is limited evidence for a direct relationship between these two assemblage elements. Instead, it is suggested that blades were used as a means of improving flaking yield, primarily towards the end of core use-lives.
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The Late Quaternary, and more particularly the Last Glacial (Marine Isotope Stages 4, 3 and 2, defined here as 73,500–14,700 calendar years, 73.5–14.7 ka; ka is used solely for calendar years and kyr BP refers to 14 C ages), was characterised by millennial-scale climate oscillations of irregular periodicity. The onset of these oscilla-tions was abrupt, with most of the change in climate accomplished within 10–200 years (Steffensen et al., 2008) and the magnitude of the change was large (of the order of 8–15 C in Greenland) (Huber et al., 2006). Two types of rapid climate changes have been described: Dansgaard–Oeschger (D-O) cycles (Dansgaard et al.,1984), associated with abrupt warming and subsequent cooling in Greenland, and cold phases associated with the formation of ice-rafted debris (IRD) deposits (Heinrich layers) (Heinrich, 1988) in the North Atlantic. Dansgaard–Oeschger cycles are clearly registered in the Greenland ice-core record (e.g. Johnsen et al., 1992; North GRIP Members, 2004) and the traces of both of these climate oscillations are recorded in a variety of marine and terrestrial records worldwide (e.g. Bond et al., 1993; Allen et al., 1999; Wang et al., 2001; Gonzalez et al., 2008). The geographic pattern of registration of individual oscillations (Sanchez Goñ i et al., 2008), and the magnitude, nature and length of the component phases of each recorded oscillation, appear to vary (Johnsen et al., 1992). However, documentation of regional changes has been hampered by problems of the synchronisation of individual chronologies, and our understanding of the mechanisms underlying these climate oscillations is still far from complete. Analysis of the mechanisms and impacts of large and rapid climate changes in the past is given additional impetus by the possibility that such events might occur in the future. Although the precise causes are different, investigation of the impact of the warming events at the beginning of D-O cycles or of iceberg melting during Heinrich intervals on the Meridional Overturning Circula-tion (MOC) in the North Atlantic speaks directly to the impact of future changes in the MOC on regional climate. Coupled ocean– atmosphere model simulations show a reduction of the MOC during the 21st century, in some cases by up to 50%, as a conse-quence of greenhouse-gas-induced polar warming (Gregory et al., 2005). Simulations with simpler climate models have shown that complete shutdown of the MOC can occur if the slowdown reaches a crucial threshold (which differs in different models) (Stocker and Schmittner, 1997; Stouffer and Manabe, 2003; Stouffer et al., 2006). Clearly, the coupled models do not reach the critical threshold as a result of the gradual change in greenhouse-gas forcing during the 21st century but might do so if the additional forcing due to even partial melting of the Greenland ice sheet were taken into account. There have been several recent attempts to synthesise millen-nial-scale climate change during the glacial (e.g. Broecker and Hemming, 2001; Alley et al., 2002; van Andel, 2002; Voelker, 2002), but most focus on marine and ice-core records. In this issue, we focus on documenting regional changes in vegetation indicated by pollen records from both marine and terrestrial cores (Fletcher et al., in this issue; Takahara et al., in this issue; Jimé nez-Moreno et al., in this issue; Heßler et al., in this issue). There are multiple reasons why this is timely. First, there has been a very rapid increase during the last decade in the number of pollen records with high temporal resolution. However, there is no global compi-lation of the pollen data, nor a synthesis of vegetation reconstruc-tions based on these data. Second, the development of a new and coherent ice-core reference chronology (GICC05: Svensson et al., 2006, 2008; see also Wolff et al., in this issue) makes it possible to achieve a better synchronisation between documented changes in Greenland and the pollen records. Third, a regional synthesis of charcoal records from North America (Marlon et al., 2009) shows that fire regimes respond to abrupt climate changes during the last deglaciation – but little is known about the response of fire globally to millennial-scale climate variability and associated vege-tation changes during earlier intervals (Daniau et al., in this issue). Fourth, investigation of the impact of changes in vegetation cover, including wetland extent, and in fire regimes is important for understanding the rapid and extremely large (up to ca 200 ppb) changes in methane during D-O cycles (Blunier and Brook, 2001; Flü ckiger et al., 2004) and the potential climate feedback. Finally, modelling groups have recently begun to explore the impact of, e.g., changes in freshwater forcing under glacial conditions on regional climates (e.g. Crucifix et al., 2001; Ganopolski and Rahm-storf, 2001; Claussen et al., 2003; Knutti et al., 2004; Flü ckiger et al., 2006, 2008; see also Kageyama et al., in this issue) but more detailed documentation of observed changes is required for the evaluation of these experiments. A multiplicity of terms is used in discussing rapid climate changes and millennial-scale climate variability during the glacial, and this has led to some confusion particularly in relating records from different regions. Alley et al. 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The Howiesons Poort Industry, with its geometric backed artefacts, has become a well-known typological entity and stratigraphic marker in the Middle Stone Age of South Africa. The Klasies River main site, on the southern Cape coast of South Africa, has yielded a large sample of Howiesons Poort artefacts. Geometric microliths from the Eurasian Upper Palaeolithic and sub-Saharan Later Stone Age are usually associated with armatures for composite hunting weapons—often bow-and-arrow hunting. The Howiesons Poort is much older than these industries, dated between 70 000 and 60 000 years ago in South Africa. Because these artefacts are morphologically similar to microliths from younger industries, similar functions are inferred. However, research efforts to obtain direct evidence on whether the Howiesons Poort backed artefacts could have been used as tips for hunting weapons have been limited. This contribution aims to stimulate such research by discussing the results of a macrofracture analysis conducted on the microliths from Klasies River Cave 2. We suggest that some of these pieces were indeed hafted and used to tip hunting weapons, and that there is evidence for change and variability in Middle Stone Age hunting technologies.
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Stone points were among the very first artifacts to attract scholarly attention, and they have consistently retained the interest of archaeologists. In recent years, the study of projectile points has progressed from descriptive concerns of culture history and typology (e. g., Bell 1958, 1960) to the general investigation of hunting technology (Larralde 1990; Odell 1988). As distinctive variables of hand-thrown spears and arrows have become evident, the behavioral implications of projectile alternatives have come into better focus.
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Ideas about the possible uses of Howiesons Poort backed artefacts, which appeared about 70 000 years ago, have been based on Later Stone Age and ethnographic examples. This paper describes an experimental test of the effectiveness of Howiesons Poort-type segments as projectile points, as well as the results of Tip Cross Sectional Area (TCSA) calculations (see Shea 2006). My aim is to show the usefulness of a range of possible hafting positions for Howiesons Poort segments as projectile tips through the use of controlled experiments and replication work. The results of these experiments may shed light on the hunting technologies of people living during the Middle Stone Age (MSA) of South Africa. Shea’s (2006) Tip Cross Sectional Area (TCSA) calculations were used to compare hafted segments with other types of pre-historic projectile points. The TCSA values, in conjunction with other quantitative or morphometric studies, can help determine how these tools were used.
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Summarises human cultural development in southern Africa from the first traces of an archaeological record to the appearance of 'modern' material culture and human behaviour about 40 000 years ago. In terms of the sub-Saharan archaeological record this includes the Early and Middle Stone Age. Attention is concentrated on the nature of the archaeological record, cultural stratigraphy, technology and subsidence. -K.Clayton
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The last 40 000 years of the 2 Myr Stone Age may be assigned to the LSA. This includes assemblages with microlithic stone artefacts and those still, or at least very recently made, by modern southern African hunter gatherers. Sites investigated are predominantly interglacial and very little is known of the MSA/LSA transition. It was not related in any simple way to environmental change nor to the emergence of a new sub species of Homo sapiens. Hunting success did not improve, so we seem to be dealing essentially with a significant change in stone flaking techniques and the range of artefacts thus produced. Early microlithic structures suggest large groups of people occupying relatively large territories but by the Holocene groups and territories were small and seasonal movement was dictated by plant food rather than by game movement. The final stage of the LSA is marked by the introduction of pottery and a herding economy. -K.Clayton
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Middle Palaeolithic birch-bark pitch - Volume 76 Issue 291 - Judith M. Grünberg