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Revisiting Umhlatuzana rockshelter, KwaZulu-Natal: First results and perspectives of a geoarchaeological study Umhlatuzana West Profile

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Abstract

We report results of a geo-archaeological investigation of Umhlatuzana rockshelter. Our aim is to clarify the depositional environment of the Middle and Later Stone Age assemblages (~70 – 20 ka). The deposits containing these materials have been interpreted to show post-depositional sedimentary movement by the original excavator (Kaplan 1990). Analysis of the piece-plotted finds allows us to evaluate the occupation history of the site during the Pleistocene and the magnitude of post depositional movement.
Revisiting Umhlatuzana rockshelter, KwaZulu-Natal:
First results and perspectives of a geoarchaeological study
Sifogeorgaki, Irini1; Dusseldorp, Gerrit1,2
1: Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology 2: Palaeo-Research Institute, University of Johannesburg
Umhlatuzana West Prole
e.sifogeorgakis@arch.leidenuniv.nl
INTRODUCTION
In 2018 we initiated a geo-archaeolog-
ical investigation of Umhlatuzana rock-
shelter. Our aim is to clarify the depo-
sitional environment of the Middle and
Later Stone Age assemblages (~70 – 20
ka). The deposits containing these ma-
terials have been interpreted to show
post-depositional sedimentary move-
ment by the original excavator (Kaplan
1990). Analysis of the piece-plotted
finds allows us to evaluate the occupa-
tion history of the site during the Pleis-
tocene and the magnitude of post dep-
ositional movement.
Contact: Dashed when approximately located
10379
16326
Concrete ash layers
Dark Brown sand
16326 +/- 439
2971
32503
41907
70500
70500
60000
41900
33
1a
1b
1c
2
4
23
58
57
5
5
56
60
22
41
9
48
15
51
49 14
11
5
50a
12
10
43
Calibrated radiocarbon
and OSL dates (years BP)
(Kaplan 1990, Lombard et. al 2010)
Modern upper layer
In situ combistion features
Charcoal-ritch layers
Dug-up/ highly bioturbated features
61
Higher find density layer
Lower find density layer
High find density , high moisture layer
Low find density, high moisture layer
13
50b
49b
20cm
METHODS
We piece-plotted all finds over 20mm
and recorded the orientation of elongat-
ed finds. Our stratigraphic assessment is
based on a combination of field obser-
vations with geospatial, sedimentolog-
ical, and geochemical analyses. Specifi-
cally, we have conducted grain-size, pH,
and Loss on Ignition analyses. Addition-
al geoarchaeological work including mi-
cromorphological analysis is underway
to address outstanding questions on the
stratigraphy of the site.
RESULTS & CONCLUSIONS
Discrete high and low find den-
sity layers
• Horizontal orientation of find
density pattern suggests limited
post-depositional movement
• Sedimentary colour difference
in Pleistocene due to high-mois-
ture units
• Grain size analysis suggests
continuous mechanism of sed-
imentation throughout the se-
quence
Low- and high- density layers
probably relate to low- and high-
occupational events
Concreted ash layers
Dark Brown sand
Modern upper layer
In situ combus�on
features
Charcoal-rich layers
Dug-up/ highly
bioturbated features
Higher find density layer
Lower find density layer
High find density, high
moisture layer
Low find density, high
moisture layer
Kaplan, J. (1990). The Umhlatuzana Rock Shelter sequence: 100 000 years of Stone Age history. Southern African Humanies, 2(0); Lombard, M., Wadley, L., Jacobs, Z., Mohapi, M., & Roberts, R. G. (2010).
Sll Bay and serrated points from Umhlatuzana Rock Shelter, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(7), 1773–1784; . Map based on SRTM 2000, NASA/JPL/NIMA.
Stratigraphic drawing
Find density/ Quartz
B C
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Victor Klinkenberg for his help with piece-plotting
VU Amsterdam for the grain size and LOI analyses
Valentijn van den Brink for the RTS measurements
Concreted ash layers
Dark Brown sand
Modern upper layer
In situ combus�on
features
Charcoal-rich layers
Dug-up/ highly
bioturbated features
Higher find density layer
Lower find density layer
High find density, high
moisture layer
Low find density, high
moisture layer
Figures
A: Photo of the excavated western profile.
B: Piece plotted finds longer than 20mm.
Yellow highlight: quartz raw material.
C: Stratigraphic drawing of Umhlatuzana
rock shelter based on field observations
and find density cluster analysis.
A
Contact: Dashed when approximately located
10379
16326
Concrete ash layers
Dark Brown sand
16326 +/- 439
2971
32503
41907
70500
70500
60000
41900
33
1a
1b
1c
2
4
23
7
58
57
5
5
56
60
22
41
9
48
15
51
49 14
11
5
50a
12
10
43
Calibrated radiocarbon
and OSL dates (years BP)
(Kaplan 1990, Lombard et. al 2010)
Modern upper layer
In situ combistion features
Charcoal-ritch layers
Dug-up/ highly bioturbated features
61
Higher find density layer
Lower find density layer
High find density , high moisture layer
Low find density, high moisture layer
13
50b
49b
20cm
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