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

In: Journal of African Archaeology
Matthew V. Caruana School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, Department of Archaeology, University of the Witwatersrand Private Bag 3, wits 2050, Johannesburg South Africa

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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.

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