Human Resilience in the Face of Mid-Holocene Climate Change on the Central West Coast of South Africa

In: Journal of African Archaeology
Antonieta Jerardino Department of Anthropology & Archaeology, School of Humanities, University of South Africa PO Box 392, UNISA, Pretoria 0003 South Africa

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After the Last Glacial Maximum, important yet milder climatic trends continued to characterise the Holocene. None of them was more challenging to forager groups in the central west coast of South Africa than the mid-Holocene Altithermal (8200–4200 cal BP). Hot and dry weather and 1–3 m higher sea levels were thought once to have barred local foragers from this region because of a lack of sites dating to this period. Instead, this initial scenario reflected largely a sampling problem. Steenbokfontein Cave is one of a few sites with some of the largest mid-Holocene deposits, allowing insights into forager adaptations during this period. Results show high mobility over large distances and a terrestrial diet mostly dependant on small bovids, complemented with fewer coastal resources. Stone tool kits and lithic raw materials among various sites suggest that much evidence for mid-Holocene occupation is actually found near the local riparian systems.

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