Regional Variability in Lithic Miniaturization and the Organization of Technology in Late Glacial Southern Africa (~18-11 kcal BP)

In: Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
  • 2 Department of Anthropology, New York University, Palaeo-Research Institute, University of Johannesburg, NY, USA

Abstract

Miniaturized stone tools made by controlled fracture are reported from nearly every continent where archaeologists have systematically looked for them. While similarities in technology are acknowledged between regions, few detailed inter-regional comparative studies have been conducted. Our paper addresses this gap, presenting results of a comparative lithic technological study between Klipfonteinrand and Sehonghong – two large rock shelters in southern Africa. Both sites contain Late Glacial (~18-11 kcal BP) lithic assemblages, though they are located in regions with different geologies, climates and environments. Results demonstrate that lithic miniaturization manifests differently in these different regions. Both assemblages provide evidence for small blade production, though key differences exist in terms of the specific technological composition of this evidence, the raw materials selected, the role played by bipolar reduction and the manner in which lithic reduction was organized. Patterned variability of this nature demonstrates that humans deployed miniaturized technologies strategically in relation to local conditions.

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