On the variability of Middle Stone Age lithic technology during MIS3 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10900/78839
Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2017-11-28
Language: English
Faculty: 7 Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Ur- und Frühgeschichte
Advisor: Conard, Nicholas
Day of Oral Examination: 2017-10-18
DDC Classifikation: 930 - History of ancient world to ca. 499
Keywords: Südafrika , Steingerät , Technologie , Steinzeit , Variabilität
Other Keywords:
lithic technology
South Africa
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The Middle Stone Age (MSA) of Southern Africa, a period roughly dating to between 300.000 and 30.000 years BP, has received intensive research within the last century and especially since the mid-1980s when scientists recognized that the origins of anatomically modern humans (AMH) reach back into the beginnings of the MSA. While in Asia, Australia, Europe and the new world AMH’s presence is documented the first time between 100.000 and 15.000 years before present (BP) the oldest evidence from Africa dates back to 300.000 BP. Within this period several innovations emerged such as personal ornaments, symbolism, burials and advanced techniques of stone tool production, most of them later than 100.000 BP. Since stone artifacts are the most commonly preserved archaeological remains, the understanding of lithic technology and its variability throughout time and space represents the essential tool of stone age archaeology and allows the reconstruction of past human societies behavior in a broad spectrum of aspects including mobility patterns, adaption to different internal and external circumstances and cultural change. In the last decades a growing number of innovations associated with the term “cultural modernity” mentioned above was recovered from two distinct technocomplexes respectively the Still Bay (SB) and Howiesons Poort (HP). This and a high density of well-preserved archaeological sites on the west and south coast of South Africa led to a limited approach to the MSA both regionally and temporally. Consequently other time periods such as post Howiesons Poort (post HP), late MSA or final MSA associated with the Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS3) have received substantially less attention and the archaeological region of eastern South Africa, especially KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) remained understudied. In sum, five archaeological sites containing MSA occupations are present in KZN. However Sibudu remained a hallmark in the region for many years due to its extraordinarily good conditions of preservation and deep stratigraphic sequence. Umhlatuzana and Border Cave have received comparatively little attention and the remaining two sites Holley Shelter and Umbeli Belli have either been analyzed insufficiently or even completely forgotten. Thus this thesis aims to provide solid archaeological data for the MIS3 assemblages from Holley Shelter, Umbeli Belli and Sibudu. It shall further outline the degree of cultural variability and flexibility within this time period. The results rest on reinvestigations of previously excavated museum collections such as the material from Holley Shelter but also on new data recovered from recent excavations using modern techniques of documentation and analytical procedures.

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