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The Study of the Fauresmith: A Review
The Fauresmith is an enigmatic South African stone tool industry, or culture, which many believe to be transitional between the Earlier and Middle Stone Ages. However, there is no consensus on its content or in fact, universal agreement on its existence. Over the past few years, absolute dating has been undertaken on sediments containing material labelled as Fauresmith. This has challenged its transitional status, but also exacerbated its use as a chrono-temporal marker. This is further complicating an already confused issue. Attempts at clarifying the Fauresmith are still ongoing, and offered here is an historical overview of its study since its first discovery. Presented is a review of the original classification proposed by Goodwin and Van Riet Lowe, its changing interpretation during the development of archaeology within South Africa, and the eventual abandonment of the termdue to its misuse. Attention shall then turn to the more recent resurrection of the term and the added levels of confusion that have arisen since this time. This review of the study of the Fauresmith can offer explanations as to how we have arrived at the present state of confusion, allowing us to move towards a firmer understanding of the Fauresmith and its place within the archaeology of South Africa.