The Organisation of Late Pleistocene Robberg Blade Technology in the Doring River Catchment, South Africa

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
  • 2 Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town, NSW 2522, Australia

Abstract

Emphasis on the production of small unretouched blades is the strongest defining technological characteristic of southern African assemblages referred to as the Robberg – a ‘technologically uniform’ technocomplex identified across the sub-continent. This paper explores the spatial organisation of Robberg blade technology from three rockshelter sites in the Doring River catchment of the eastern Cederberg Mountains. The Doring is both a key source of water and toolstone, and the three sites are located at varying distances from it. Blades and blade cores from these sites are used to explore the influence of distance to source on the abundance of raw materials, staging of production and maintenance/reduction of transported artefacts. Results suggest key differences in procurement and provisioning strategies for different materials. Hunter-gatherers ‘geared up’ with hornfels and silcrete blades at the river before moving up the tributaries where toolkits were supplemented by small numbers of blades made from transported silcrete cores and the situational use of local rock types such as quartz. Results demonstrate the importance of understanding local-scale controls on technological organisation before inferring patterns of broader behavioural import.

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