Series:

David Whitehouse†, Timothy B. Husband, Lisa Pilosi, Mary B. Shepard and Mark T. Wypyski

T. Alexandra Sumner

The examination of lithic material from the late Early Stone Age (ESA) and Middle Stone Age (MSA) levels of Kudu Koppie (KK), Limpopo Province (South Africa) has revealed a range of raw material exploitation patterns and lithic technology. Situated on an escarpment within close proximity to the modern day Limpopo River, and given the high concentration of raw material sources within easy access of the site, KK offered an ideal environment for use by early human groups. This paper reviews the results of a refitting study of material associated with four types of raw material from four out of ten excavated squares at KK. The results demonstrate evidence for a range of technological approaches that are, in some cases, associated with differential use of various lithic materials. In addition, the analysis of the KK refits offers high-resolution insights into the unique qualities of individual technological events including the recycling of previously exploited nodules and, through additional flaking, the co-opting and alteration of one type of tool for the purpose of producing a second form of tool. Moreover, this paper also clearly demonstrates the applicability and value of refitting large Early and Middle Stone Age assemblages, thus offering interpretations concerning early prehistoric technological behaviour that would otherwise be rarely revealed.

Lawrence Barham, Stephen Tooth, Geoff A.T. Duller, Andrew J. Plater and Simon Turner

We report on the results of small-scale excavations at the archaeological site of Kalambo Falls, northern Zambia. The site has long been known for its stratified succession of Stone Age horizons, in particular those representing the late Acheulean (Mode 2) and early Middle Stone Age (Mode 3). Previous efforts to date these horizons have provided, at best, minimum radiometric ages. The absence of a firm chronology for the site has limited its potential contribution to our understanding of the process of technological change in the Middle Pleistocene of south-central Africa. The aim of the excavations was to collect samples for luminescence dating that bracketed archaeological horizons, and to establish the sedimentary and palaeoenvironmental contexts of the deposits. Four sedimentary packages were identified with the oldest containing Mode 2 and Mode 3 horizons. In this paper we consider the implications of the luminescence ages for the archaeological record at Kalambo Falls, and place them in a regional context. The reworking and preservation of the archaeological horizons is interpreted as the result of successive phases of meander migration and aggradation. Limited pollen evidence suggests a persistent floodplain palaeoenvironment with intermittent swamp forest and adjacent valley woodland, while mineral magnetic susceptibility data support an interpretation of river flow variability without any significant change in sediment provenance. The dynamics of the fluvial system cannot as yet be linked directly with regional climate change. The age range of ~500–300 ka for the oldest sedimentary package places the Mode 2/3 succession firmly in the Middle Pleistocene, and contributes to an expanding African record of technological innovation before the evolution of Homo sapiens.

Series:

David Whitehouse†, Timothy B. Husband, Lisa Pilosi, Mary B. Shepard and Mark T. Wypyski