Lithic Production Strategies in the Oldowan Assemblages from Sterkfontein Member 5 and Swartkrans Member 1, Gauteng Province, South Africa

in Journal of African Archaeology
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

Abstract

Sterkfontein Member 5 East (Oldowan Infill) and Swartkrans Member 1 (Lower Bank) represent the largest concentrations of Oldowan artefacts in southern Africa, and yet they vary significantly in terms of raw material use and typological frequencies. While previous research has described these differences in detail, questions remain as to the cause and implications of this variability. To increase resolution on this matter, this study implements quantitative methods to investigate lithic production strategies at these sites. Results expand upon previous findings concerning differences in raw material use and knapping methods and how these patterns relate to core reduction and flake production. Explanations for these patterns focus on a dichotomy between efficiency and expediency in lithic production, which differ from previous interpretations. As such, variability between these assemblages may relate more to mobility patterns in early hominins within this region and immediate needs for tool use.

Lithic Production Strategies in the Oldowan Assemblages from Sterkfontein Member 5 and Swartkrans Member 1, Gauteng Province, South Africa

in Journal of African Archaeology

Sections

References

AveryD.M. 2001. The Plio-Pleistocene vegetation and climate of Sterkfontein and Swartkrans, South Africa, based on micromammals. Journal of Human Evolution 41113-132.

BlumenschineR.J.MasaoF.T.TactikosJ.C. & EbertJ.I. 2008. Effects of distance from stone source on landscape-scale variation in Oldowan artifact assemblages in the Paleo-Olduvai Basin, Tanzania. Journal of Archaeological Science 3576-86.

BlumenschineR.J.PetersC.R.MasaoF.T.ClarkeR.J.DeinoL.HayR.L.SwisherC.C.StanistreetI.G.AshleyG.M.LindsayJ.SikesN.E.MerweN.J. Van erTactikosJ.C.CushingA.E.DeocampoD.M.NjauJ.K. & EbertJ.I. 2003. Late Pliocene Homo and hominid land use from western Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Science 2991217-1221.

BraunD.R. 2005. Examining flake production strategies: Examples from the Middle Paleolithic of southwest Asia. Lithic Technology 30107-125.

BraunD.R. & HarrisJ.W.K. 2003. Technological developments in the Oldowan of Koobi Fora: Innovative techniques of artifact analysis. In: MorenoJ.M.MoraR.de la TorreI. (eds.). Oldowan: Rather More than Smashing Stones. Centre d’Estudis del Patrimoni Arqueològic de la PrehistòriaBellaterra pp. 117-144.

BraunD.R.HarrisJ.W.K. & MainaD.N. 2009a. Oldowan raw material procurement and use: Evidence from the Koobi Fora Formation. Archaeometry 5126-42.

BraunD.R.PlummerT.FerraroJ.V.DitchfieldP. & BishopL.C. 2009b. Raw material quality and Oldowan hominin toolstone preferences: Evidence from Kanjera South, Kenya. Journal of Archaeological Science 361605-1614.

BraunD.R.PlummerT.DitchfieldP.FerraroJ. V.MainaD.BishopL.C. & PottsR. 2008a. Oldowan behavior and raw material transport: perspectives from the Kanjera Formation. Journal of Archaeological Science 352329-2345.

BraunD.R.RogersM.J.HarrisJ.W.K. & WalkerS.J. 2008b. Landscape-scale variation in hominin tool use: Evidence from the Developed Oldowan. Journal of Human Evolution 551053-1063.

BraunD.R.TactikosJ.C.FerraroJ.V.ArnowS.L. & HarrisJ.W.K. 2008c. Oldowan reduction sequences: Methodological considerations. Journal of Archaeological Science 352153-2163.

BraunD.R.TactikosJ.C.FerraroJ.V. & HarrisJ.W.K. 2005. Flake recovery rates and inferences of Oldowan hominin behavior: A response to Kimura 19992002. Journal of Human Evolution 48525-531.

ClarkJ.D. 1993. Stone artefact assemblages from Memebers 1-3, Swartkrans Cave. In: BrainC.K. (ed.). Swartkrans: A Cave’s Chronicle of Early Man. Transvaal Museum Monograph 8Pretoria pp. 167-194.

ClarksonC. 2013. Measuring core reduction using 3D flake scar density: A test case of changing core reduction at Klasies River Mouth, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 404348-4357.

de la TorreI. 2004. Omo revisited. Current Anthropology 45439-465.

de la TorreI.MoraR.Domı́nguez-RodrigoM.de LuqueL. & AlcaláL. 2003. The Oldowan industry of Peninj and its bearing on the reconstruction of the technological skills of LowerPleistocene hominids. Journal of Human Evolution 44203-224.

DeerW.A.HowieR.A. & ZussmanJ. 1992. An Introduction to the Rock-Forming Minerals2nd ed. Pearson Education LimitedEssex.

DelagnesA.BoisserieJ.-R.BeyeneY.ChuniaudK.GuillemotC. & SchusterM. 2011. Archaeological investigations in the Lower Omo Valley (Shungura Formation, Ethiopia): New data and perspectives. Journal of Human Evolution 61215-222.

DelagnesA. & RocheH. 2005. Late Pliocene hominid knapping skills: The case of Lokalalei 2C, West Turkana, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 48435-472.

Diez-MartínF.YustosP.S.Domínguez-RodrigoM. & PrendergastM.E. 2011. An Experimental study of bipolar and freehand knapping of Naibor Soit quartz from Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania). American Antiquity 76690-708.

DogandžićT.BraunD.R. & McPherronS.P. 2015. Edge length and surface area of a blank: Experimental assessment of measures, size predictions and utility. Plos One 101-21.

DriscollK. & WarrenG.M.2006. Dealing with “the quartz problem” in Irish lithic research. Lithics 284-14.

ErenM.I.Diez-MartínF. & Dominguez-RodrigoM. 2013. An empirical test of the relative frequency of bipolar reduction in Beds VI, V, and III at Mumba Rockshelter, Tanzania: Implications for the East African Middle to Late Stone Age transition. Journal of Archaeological Science 40248-256.

FieldA.S. 1999. An analytical and comparative study of the Earlier Stone Age archaeology of the Sterkfontein Valley. Unpublished MSc Thesis. University of the Witwatersrand.

GibbonR.J.PickeringT.R.SuttonM.B.HeatonJ.L.KumanK.ClarkeR.J.BrainC.K. & GrangerD.E. 2014. Cosmogenic nuclide burial dating of hominin-bearing Pleistocene cave deposits at Swartkrans, South Africa. Quaternary Geochronology 2410-15.

Goldman-NeumanT. & HoversE. 2012. Raw material selectivity in Late Pliocene Oldowan sites in the Makaamitalu Basin, Hadar, Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution 62353-366.

GrangerD.E.GibbonR.J.KumanK.ClarkeR.J.BruxellesL. & CaffeeM.W. 2015. New cosmogenic burial ages for Sterkfontein Member 2 Australopithecus and Member 5 Oldowan. Nature 55285-88.

HarmandS. 2009. Variability in raw material selectivity at the Late Pliocene sites of Lokalalei, West Turkana, Kenya. In: HoversE. & BraunD.R. (eds.) Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Oldowan. Springer NetherlandsDordrecht pp. 85-97.

HerriesA.I.R. & ShawJ. 2011. Palaeomagnetic analysis of the Sterkfontein palaeocave deposits: Implications for the age of the hominin fossils and stone tool industries. Journal of Human Evolution 60523-539.

HoversE. & BraunD.R. 2009. Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Oldowan. SpringerDordrecht.

IsaacG.L. 1986. Foundation stone: Early artefacts as indicators of activities and abilities. In: BaileyG.N. & CallowP. (eds.) Stone Age Prehistory. Cambridge University PressCambridge pp. 221-241.

IsaacG.L.HarrisJ.W.K. & KrollE.M. 1997. The stone artefacts: A comparative study. In: IsaacG.L. (ed.) The Koobi Fora Research Project: Volume 5. ClaredonOxford pp. 262-362.

KumanK. 2003. Site formation in Early South African Stone Age sites and its influence on the archaeological record. South African Journal of Science 99251-254.

KumanK. 1994a. The archaeology of Sterkfontein – past and present. Journal of Human Evolution 27471-495.

KumanK. 1994b. The Oldowan Industry from Sterkfontein: raw materials and core forms. In: PwitiG. & SoperR. (eds.) Aspects of African Archaeology: Papers from the 10th Congress of the PanAfrican Association for Prehistory and Related Studies. University of Zimbabwe PublicationsHarare pp. 139-146.

KumanK. 2007. The Earlier Stone Age in South Africa: Site context and the influence of cave studies In: PickeringT.R.SchickK. & TothN. (eds.) Breathing Life Into Fossils: Taphonomic Studies in Honor of C.K. (Bob) Brain. Stone Age Institute PressGosport pp. 181-198.

KumanK. & ClarkeR.J. 2000. Stratigraphy, artefact industries and hominid associations for Sterkfontein, member 5. Journal of Human Evolution 38827-847.

KumanK. & FieldA.S. 2009. The Oldowan Industry from Sterkfontein Caves. In: SchickK. & TothN. (eds.) The Cutting Edge: New Approaches to the Archaeology of Human Origins. Stone Age Institute PressGosport pp. 151-169.

LeakeyM. 1971. Olduvai Gorge: Volume 3: Excavations in Beds I and II 1960-1963. Cambridge University PressCambridge.

Leroi-GourhanA. 1964. Le Geste et la Parole. Albin MichelParis, France.

LinS.RezekZ.BraunD. & DibbleH. 2013. On the utility and economization of unretouched flakes: the effects of exterior platform angle and platform depth. American Antiquity 78724-745.

LinS.C.H.DouglassM.J.HoldawayS.J. & FloydB. 2010. The application of 3D laser scanning technology to the assessment of ordinal and mechanical cortex quantification in lithic analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science 37694-702.

O’ReganH.J. 2007. A revision of the carnivora from Member 5, Sterkfontein, South Africa, based on a reassessment of published material and site stratigraphy. Annals of the Transvaal Museum 44209-214.

PickeringR.KramersJ.D.HancoxP.J.de RuiterD.J. & WoodheadJ.D. 2011. Contemporary flowstone development links early hominin bearing cave deposits in South Africa. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 30623-32.

PlummerT. 2004. Flaked stones and old bones: Biological and cultural evolution at the dawn of technology. American Journal of Physical Anthropology Suppl. 39118-164.

PrasciunasM.M. 2007. Bifacial cores and flake production efficiency: An experimental test of technological assumptions. American Antiquity 72334-348.

ReedK. 1997. Early hominid evolution and ecological change through the African Plio-Pleistocene. Journal of Human Evolution 32289-322.

SahnouniM.SchickK. & TothN. 1997. An experimental investigation into the nature of faceted limestone “spheroids” in the Early Palaeolithic. Journal of Archaeological Science 24701-713.

SchickK. & TothN. 1994. Early Stone Age technology in Africa: A review and case study into the nature and function of spheroids and subspheroids. In: RobertS.C. & CiochonR.L. (eds.) Integrative Paths to the Past. Prentice-HallEngelwood Cliffs pp. 429-449.

ShottM. 1989. Bipolar industries. North American Archaeologist 101-24.

StoutD.QuadeJ.SemawS.RogersM.J. & LevinN.E. 2005. Raw material selectivity of the earliest stone toolmakers at Gona, Afar, Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution 48365-380.

StoutD.SemawS.RogersM.J. & CaucheD. 2010. Technological variation in the earliest Oldowan from Gona, Afar, Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution 58474-491.

SuttonM.B. 2012. The Archaeology of Swartkrans Cave, Gauteng, South Africa: New Excavations of Member 1 and 4. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. University of the Witwatersrand.

TactikosJ.C. 2003. A re-evaluation of Palaeolithic stone tool cutting edge production rates and their implications. In: MoloneyN. & ShottM.J. (eds.) Lithic Analysis at the Millenium. University College London PressLondon pp. 151-162.

TallavaaraM.ManninenM.A.HertellE. & RankamaT. 2010. How flakes shatter: A critical evaluation of quartz fracture analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science 372442-2448.

TothN. 1985. The Oldowan reassessed: A close look at early stone artifacts. Journal of Archaeological Science 12101-120.

VrbaE.S. 1988. The significance of bovid remains as indicators of environment and predation patterns. In: BehrensmeyerA.K. & HillA. (eds.) Fossils in the Making. University of Chicago PressChicago pp. 249-273.

WilloughbyP.R. 1985. Spheroids and battered stones in the African Early Stone Age. World Archaeology 1744-60.

Figures

  • View in gallery
  • View in gallery
    A. Map of southern Africa showing the location of the Cradle of Humankind (coh) fossil sites. B. Map of the coh showing the location of Sterkfontein (stk) and Swartkrans (swt) relative to other Earlier Stone Age localities. (gs = Goldsmiths; cod = Cooper’s D; kr = Kromdraai; dn = Drimolen; gv = Gladysvale)
  • View in gallery
    Topographic Map of the southwest part of the Sterkfontein Valley showing the location of Sterkfontein (stk) and Swartkrans (swt) relative to the Blaaubank River.
  • View in gallery
    pca scatterplot results showing pc1 and pc2 loadings. Convex hulls (stk-M5E in grey, swt-M1 in white) outline the extent of the variance of core attributes.
  • View in gallery
    Regression comparing pc1 and sdi (A); and pc2 and sdi (B).
  • View in gallery
    Boxplot comparing sdi of cores by raw material groups.
  • View in gallery
    Boxplot comparing sdi of cores by typology (○= outlier).
  • View in gallery
    Regression comparing V2/3 and sa of core types highlighting increasing sphericity in core reduction.
  • View in gallery
    Regression comparing sa/V2/3 and sdi highlighting the relationship between core types and reduction trajectories.
  • View in gallery
    Boxplot comparing sdi and core typology indicating increased reduction in multifacial cores (○= outlier).
  • View in gallery
    Regression graph comparing sa/V2/3 and sdi by site highlighting differences in core reduction trajectories.
  • View in gallery
    Boxplot comparing in whole flakes uce% by site (A) and by raw materials (B) (○= outlier).
  • View in gallery
    Boxplot comparing perimeter (A) and area (B) by raw materials (○= outlier; *= extreme outlier).
  • View in gallery
    Boxplot comparing length of manuports by site according to raw material groups (○= outlier).

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 24 24 12
Full Text Views 17 17 17
PDF Downloads 1 1 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0