Pleistocene Archaeology and Chronology of Putslaagte 8 (PL8) Rockshelter, Western Cape, South Africa

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 Centre for Archaeological Scienc, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong
  • 2 Centre for Archaeological Scienc, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong
  • 3 Department of Anthropology, University of California

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We report on excavations of a small rock shelter — Putslaagte 8 (PL8) — located on the arid interior fringe of South Africa’s Fynbos biome. The shelter preserves a long sequence of Holocene and late Pleistocene occupation dating back beyond 75,000 years BP. This paper presents data on the technological, faunal and chronological sequence. Occupation is markedly pulsed and includes three late Pleistocene Later Stone Age (LSA) units (macrolithic, Robberg and early LSA), as well as several distinct Middle Stone Age (MSA) components from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3–5. Pulsing may reflect the arid and possibly marginal environments in which the shelter is situated, and to that end some elements of the sequence contrast with occupational patterns towards the coast. Viewed in a regional setting PL8 suggests: 1) complementarity of resource movements between the coast and interior in terminal MIS 2; 2) distinctions in material selection, and possibly technology, between the coast and interior in earlier MIS 2; 3) an MSA lasting to at least 40,000 years before present; 4) a weak Howiesons Poort and post-Howiesons Poort in the interior; 5) possibly distinct periods of denticulate manufacture within the MIS 5 MSA; 6) highly localised patterns of material acquisition in the earlier MSA.

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