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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

Selection of tools from assemblage POX.1–3: Unifacial point, Tongati (all dolerite, C3-868, D2-596, C2-763.7); 4: Unifacial point, Tongati (hornfels, E3-977); 5: Unifacial point, ACT (hornfels, C2-717); 6–7: Unifacial point, ACT (both dolerite, D3-856; D3-615); 8) Denticulate (dolerite, D2-446); 9: Lateral retouch, Ndwedwe (dolerite, D3-619); 10: Lateral retouch, Ndwedwe (hornfels, D3-608). (Drawings by L. Brandt)
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pone.0130001.g013: Selection of tools from assemblage POX.1–3: Unifacial point, Tongati (all dolerite, C3-868, D2-596, C2-763.7); 4: Unifacial point, Tongati (hornfels, E3-977); 5: Unifacial point, ACT (hornfels, C2-717); 6–7: Unifacial point, ACT (both dolerite, D3-856; D3-615); 8) Denticulate (dolerite, D2-446); 9: Lateral retouch, Ndwedwe (dolerite, D3-619); 10: Lateral retouch, Ndwedwe (hornfels, D3-608). (Drawings by L. Brandt)

Mentions: Retouched artifacts from the newly described assemblages BP, POX and SU are illustrated in Figs 6, 13 and 14 (for BSP-BM, see [32]: Fig 3–5 and 13). From a traditional typological point of view [64, 65], and taking southern African MSA taxonomy into consideration [85, 86, 100], several varieties of unifacial points constitute the most abundant tool type in the studied sequence (n = 347; 45%; Fig 6: 4–5; Fig 13: 1–6; Fig 14: 1–7). They are followed by side scrapers (n = 118; 16%; Fig 14: 8), lateral retouch on blades (n = 62; 8%; Fig 14: 9–10) and denticulates and notches (n = 55, 6%; Table 7, Fig 13: 9–10). Backed pieces and bifacial points occur rarely. There are consistent diachronic changes within WOG1-BSP in overall retouch frequencies (see above) and tool composition (Table 7). In the bottom layers WOG1 and SP, unifacial points and side scrapers occur only in low numbers or not at all, whereas denticulates and notches constitute the most abundant tool type (40–78%). In the following assemblages SU and POX, unifacial points (27–37%) and side scrapers (7–23%) become more frequent and notched retouch decreases (13–19%). The youngest assemblages BM-BSP are characterized by very high proportions of unifacial points (38–54%), many side scrapers (7–23%) and few if any denticulates and notches (0–6%).


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)

Selection of tools from assemblage POX.1–3: Unifacial point, Tongati (all dolerite, C3-868, D2-596, C2-763.7); 4: Unifacial point, Tongati (hornfels, E3-977); 5: Unifacial point, ACT (hornfels, C2-717); 6–7: Unifacial point, ACT (both dolerite, D3-856; D3-615); 8) Denticulate (dolerite, D2-446); 9: Lateral retouch, Ndwedwe (dolerite, D3-619); 10: Lateral retouch, Ndwedwe (hornfels, D3-608). (Drawings by L. Brandt)
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone.0130001.g013: Selection of tools from assemblage POX.1–3: Unifacial point, Tongati (all dolerite, C3-868, D2-596, C2-763.7); 4: Unifacial point, Tongati (hornfels, E3-977); 5: Unifacial point, ACT (hornfels, C2-717); 6–7: Unifacial point, ACT (both dolerite, D3-856; D3-615); 8) Denticulate (dolerite, D2-446); 9: Lateral retouch, Ndwedwe (dolerite, D3-619); 10: Lateral retouch, Ndwedwe (hornfels, D3-608). (Drawings by L. Brandt)
Mentions: Retouched artifacts from the newly described assemblages BP, POX and SU are illustrated in Figs 6, 13 and 14 (for BSP-BM, see [32]: Fig 3–5 and 13). From a traditional typological point of view [64, 65], and taking southern African MSA taxonomy into consideration [85, 86, 100], several varieties of unifacial points constitute the most abundant tool type in the studied sequence (n = 347; 45%; Fig 6: 4–5; Fig 13: 1–6; Fig 14: 1–7). They are followed by side scrapers (n = 118; 16%; Fig 14: 8), lateral retouch on blades (n = 62; 8%; Fig 14: 9–10) and denticulates and notches (n = 55, 6%; Table 7, Fig 13: 9–10). Backed pieces and bifacial points occur rarely. There are consistent diachronic changes within WOG1-BSP in overall retouch frequencies (see above) and tool composition (Table 7). In the bottom layers WOG1 and SP, unifacial points and side scrapers occur only in low numbers or not at all, whereas denticulates and notches constitute the most abundant tool type (40–78%). In the following assemblages SU and POX, unifacial points (27–37%) and side scrapers (7–23%) become more frequent and notched retouch decreases (13–19%). The youngest assemblages BM-BSP are characterized by very high proportions of unifacial points (38–54%), many side scrapers (7–23%) and few if any denticulates and notches (0–6%).

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