This paper presents new information on the antiquity of the bow and arrow in the Kalahari. Excavations at White Paintings Shelter (WPS) uncovered bone point fragments that appear to have been parts of reversible arrowheads that could have been used with poison. We present a sequence of nine new, internally consistent OSL ages that date specific soil horizons at WPS. These dates/soil horizons are related to the bone point finds. The oldest bone points are estimated to date between 35–37 ka, while worked bone technology extends to at least 45 ka. Several engraved points are also discussed in relation to ethnographic evidence regarding decorated bone link-shafts collected in the 1970s. Additional information includes the first description of a reversible bone arrow point, made by a person who used such points with poison in his youth.
This paper presents the first combined use of OSL and AMS dating to address the problem of the advent of livestock in southern Africa. Excavations at Toteng, at the eastern end of the Lake Ngami basin, have revealed bones of wetland and domesticated animals dating to around 2 ka. There is also Bambata pottery and microliths. Between 2.1–1.5 ka the lake level increased to ca 934 m asl but declined rapidly to less than 930 m asl by 1.2 ka. People lived close to the shore of Lake Ngami but as the lake waters receded occupation was probably seasonal in the winter months; during the summer low-flow months they may have moved west to be near a smaller Lake Ngami or northeast to the Okavango Delta.