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Table 1: Units of Quantification.
Figure 2: The distribution of habitat types according to the THIveg.Figure 3: The characteristics of the environment according to the THItvod.
NISP (crania) 1367
MNE (crania) 2184
MNI (crania) 147
Inferring the palaeoecology of a MIS 5 layer from
Klasies River Main Site using micromammal remains.
Klasies River main site (KRM) is located along the
Tsitsikamma coast (Figure 1a) in the Eastern Cape
province, South Africa (Singer & Wymer 1982; Wurz et al.
2018). The site is surrounded by thicket, fynbos, forest and
coastal vegetation (Figure 1b). Archaeological sites in the
southern Cape coast yield the longest record of human
occupation in South Africa (Loftus et al.2019). Hunter-
gatherer-fishers intensely occupied these coastal sites
leaving an abundant accumulation of cultural and
subsistence remains (Wurz et al.2018). The micromammal
remains from KRM are associated with rare anatomically
modern human fossils (Grine et al.2017; Wurz et al. 2018).
Three micromammal studies have been conducted at the
site but the previous two studies analysed material from
grouped layers. The third and most recent analyses are
from temporally restricted contexts.
Nompumelelo Maringa1, Sarah Wurz1& Jerome P. Reynard1
1The Department of Geography, Archaeology & Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand.
Research question: Which palaeoenvironmental conditions
occurred during this period?
Materials and methods
The micromammal assemblage originates from the BOS
three layer in the C3 square in Cave 1 (Figure 1c) which was
excavated in 2017. The assemblage consists of 5909
specimens (NSP), the NISP for crania is 1367 and 1456 for
post-crania (Table 1). Taxonomic identification was carried
out on the crania assemblage and palaeoenvironmental and
diversity indices were used to infer the environmental
conditions based on the taxonomic composition.
The three dominant taxa in the assemblage are Otomys
irroratus, Crocidura flavescens and Myosorex varius.The
presence of these species indicates a densely vegetated
and moisture rich environment. The diversity indices show
an even distribution of taxa that prefer a variety of
vegetation types. These findings suggest a complex mixture
and distribution of vegetation structures (Figure 2-3).
Cool conditions occurred during MIS 5d, approximately
110ka, at KRM and the outcome of the
palaeoenvironmental inference indicates dense vegetation
with mosaic characteristics, water abundance and a closed
environment. This is the inferred palaeoenvironmental
conditions experienced by the hunter-fisher-gatherers
during their occupation at the site.
Grine, F.E., Wurz, S. & Marean, C.W.2017. The Middle Stone Age human fossil record from Klasies River Main Site. Journal of Human Evolution 103:53-78.
Loftus,E. , Lee-Thorp,J. , Leng,M ., Marean, C. & Sealy, J. 2019. Seasonal scheduling of shellfish collectionin the Middle and L ater StoneAges of southern Africa. Journal of human evolution 128:1-16.
Mosweu, K.J. 2019. A study of silcrete raw material acquisition in the Howiesons Poort at Klasies River using GIS catchment analysis techniques. Unpublished Masters dissertation. Johannesburg: University of the
Singer, R. & Wymer, J.J. 1982.Th e Middle Stone Age at Klasies River Mouth in South Africa.Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Van Wijk, Y., Tusenius, M., Rust, R., Cowling, R.M. & Wurz, S. 2017. Modern vegetation at Klasies River archaeological sites, southern Cape coast, South Africa - a reference collection. Plant Ecology and Evolution 150:13–34.
Wurz, S., Bentsen, S., VanPletzen-Vos, L., Reynard, J., Brenner M., Mentzer, S., Pickering, R. & Green, H.E. 2018. Connections, culture and environments 100 000 years ago at Klasies River main site. Quaternary International
Figure 1: a) A map of the southern Cape (adapted from Mosweu 2019). b) KRM
(after Van Wijk et al.2017:14). c) The cluster of caves (Courtesy of Dr. S.E. Bentsen).