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Examining the Causes and Consequences of Short-Term Behavioral Change during the Middle Stone Age at Sibudu, South Africa.

Conard NJ, Will M - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: We present the results from a technological analysis of 11 stratified lithic assemblages which overlie the Howiesons Poort deposits and all date to ~58 ka.The lithic assemblages can be grouped into three cohesive units which differ from each other in the procurement of raw materials, the frequency in the methods of core reduction, the kind of blanks produced, and in the nature of tools the inhabitants of Sibudu made and used.We also identify a clear pattern of development toward what we have previously defined as the Sibudan cultural taxonomic unit.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, University of Tübingen, Schloss Hohentübingen, 72070, Tübingen, Germany; Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoecology, University of Tübingen, Schloss Hohentübingen, 72070, Tübingen, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Sibudu in KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) with its rich and high-resolution archaeological sequence provides an ideal case study to examine the causes and consequences of short-term variation in the behavior of modern humans during the Middle Stone Age (MSA). We present the results from a technological analysis of 11 stratified lithic assemblages which overlie the Howiesons Poort deposits and all date to ~58 ka. Based on technological and typological attributes, we conducted inter-assemblage comparisons to characterize the nature and tempo of cultural change in successive occupations. This work identified considerable short-term variation with clear temporal trends throughout the sequence, demonstrating that knappers at Sibudu varied their technology over short time spans. The lithic assemblages can be grouped into three cohesive units which differ from each other in the procurement of raw materials, the frequency in the methods of core reduction, the kind of blanks produced, and in the nature of tools the inhabitants of Sibudu made and used. These groups of assemblages represent different strategies of lithic technology, which build upon each other in a gradual, cumulative manner. We also identify a clear pattern of development toward what we have previously defined as the Sibudan cultural taxonomic unit. Contextualizing these results on larger geographical scales shows that the later phase of the MSA during MIS 3 in KwaZulu-Natal and southern Africa is one of dynamic cultural change rather than of stasis or stagnation as has at times been claimed. In combination with environmental, subsistence and contextual information, our high-resolution data on lithic technology suggest that short-term behavioral variability at Sibudu can be best explained by changes in technological organization and socio-economic dynamics instead of environmental forcing.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Percentual abundance of raw materials throughout WOG1-BSP.WOG1 = oldest layer; BSP = youngest layer.
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pone.0130001.g003: Percentual abundance of raw materials throughout WOG1-BSP.WOG1 = oldest layer; BSP = youngest layer.

Mentions: Throughout the studied sequence, knappers gradually changed their selection of raw materials (Fig 3; Table 2). Dolerite constitutes the dominant tool stone in all layers, but varies in abundance. The two lowest assemblages WOG1 and SP yield values between 75–80%, followed by an almost exclusive use of dolerite in SU-POX (90–95%) and finally a drop in frequency to between 60–70% in the uppermost layers BM-BSP. In contrast to dolerite, we found unidirectional temporal changes for the selection of non-local hornfels and local sandstone. Hornfels is absent in the lowest assemblage WOG1 and increases gradually from SP (1%) to POX (6%). Layer BM marks a distinct break in the sequence with hornfels shooting up to 25%, reaching almost 40% in CHE and SPCA (Fig 3). From SU-BSP, decreases in dolerite correlate strongly with increases in hornfels (r = 0.87; p = 0.002). While sandstone is well-represented in the lower assemblages WOG1 and SP (14–20%), layers SU and above demonstrate only <5% of this raw material. Other local (quartz, quartzite) and non-local raw materials (jasper, CCS) played a negligible role for the inhabitants. In terms of raw material origins, all assemblages from the base of the studied sequence up to POX yield less than 6% raw materials from non-local sources–or none at all–whereas the upper layers BM-BSP exhibit a four- to six-fold increase in tool stones from further away to between 25–38%.


Examining the Causes and Consequences of Short-Term Behavioral Change during the Middle Stone Age at Sibudu, South Africa.

Conard NJ, Will M - PLoS ONE (2015)

Percentual abundance of raw materials throughout WOG1-BSP.WOG1 = oldest layer; BSP = youngest layer.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4476744&req=5

pone.0130001.g003: Percentual abundance of raw materials throughout WOG1-BSP.WOG1 = oldest layer; BSP = youngest layer.
Mentions: Throughout the studied sequence, knappers gradually changed their selection of raw materials (Fig 3; Table 2). Dolerite constitutes the dominant tool stone in all layers, but varies in abundance. The two lowest assemblages WOG1 and SP yield values between 75–80%, followed by an almost exclusive use of dolerite in SU-POX (90–95%) and finally a drop in frequency to between 60–70% in the uppermost layers BM-BSP. In contrast to dolerite, we found unidirectional temporal changes for the selection of non-local hornfels and local sandstone. Hornfels is absent in the lowest assemblage WOG1 and increases gradually from SP (1%) to POX (6%). Layer BM marks a distinct break in the sequence with hornfels shooting up to 25%, reaching almost 40% in CHE and SPCA (Fig 3). From SU-BSP, decreases in dolerite correlate strongly with increases in hornfels (r = 0.87; p = 0.002). While sandstone is well-represented in the lower assemblages WOG1 and SP (14–20%), layers SU and above demonstrate only <5% of this raw material. Other local (quartz, quartzite) and non-local raw materials (jasper, CCS) played a negligible role for the inhabitants. In terms of raw material origins, all assemblages from the base of the studied sequence up to POX yield less than 6% raw materials from non-local sources–or none at all–whereas the upper layers BM-BSP exhibit a four- to six-fold increase in tool stones from further away to between 25–38%.

Bottom Line: We present the results from a technological analysis of 11 stratified lithic assemblages which overlie the Howiesons Poort deposits and all date to ~58 ka.The lithic assemblages can be grouped into three cohesive units which differ from each other in the procurement of raw materials, the frequency in the methods of core reduction, the kind of blanks produced, and in the nature of tools the inhabitants of Sibudu made and used.We also identify a clear pattern of development toward what we have previously defined as the Sibudan cultural taxonomic unit.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, University of Tübingen, Schloss Hohentübingen, 72070, Tübingen, Germany; Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoecology, University of Tübingen, Schloss Hohentübingen, 72070, Tübingen, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Sibudu in KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) with its rich and high-resolution archaeological sequence provides an ideal case study to examine the causes and consequences of short-term variation in the behavior of modern humans during the Middle Stone Age (MSA). We present the results from a technological analysis of 11 stratified lithic assemblages which overlie the Howiesons Poort deposits and all date to ~58 ka. Based on technological and typological attributes, we conducted inter-assemblage comparisons to characterize the nature and tempo of cultural change in successive occupations. This work identified considerable short-term variation with clear temporal trends throughout the sequence, demonstrating that knappers at Sibudu varied their technology over short time spans. The lithic assemblages can be grouped into three cohesive units which differ from each other in the procurement of raw materials, the frequency in the methods of core reduction, the kind of blanks produced, and in the nature of tools the inhabitants of Sibudu made and used. These groups of assemblages represent different strategies of lithic technology, which build upon each other in a gradual, cumulative manner. We also identify a clear pattern of development toward what we have previously defined as the Sibudan cultural taxonomic unit. Contextualizing these results on larger geographical scales shows that the later phase of the MSA during MIS 3 in KwaZulu-Natal and southern Africa is one of dynamic cultural change rather than of stasis or stagnation as has at times been claimed. In combination with environmental, subsistence and contextual information, our high-resolution data on lithic technology suggest that short-term behavioral variability at Sibudu can be best explained by changes in technological organization and socio-economic dynamics instead of environmental forcing.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus