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

in Journal of African Archaeology
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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.

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

in Journal of African Archaeology



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    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)
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    Topographic Map of the southwest part of the Sterkfontein Valley showing the location of Sterkfontein (stk) and Swartkrans (swt) relative to the Blaaubank River.
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    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.
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    Regression comparing pc1 and sdi (A); and pc2 and sdi (B).
  • View in gallery
    Boxplot comparing sdi of cores by raw material groups.
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    Boxplot comparing sdi of cores by typology (○= outlier).
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    Regression comparing V2/3 and sa of core types highlighting increasing sphericity in core reduction.
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    Regression comparing sa/V2/3 and sdi highlighting the relationship between core types and reduction trajectories.
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    Boxplot comparing sdi and core typology indicating increased reduction in multifacial cores (○= outlier).
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    Regression graph comparing sa/V2/3 and sdi by site highlighting differences in core reduction trajectories.
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    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).

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