(Mehlman 1989, Prendergast et al. 2007, Gliganic et al. 2012, Bushozi et al. 2017, 2020). The oldest symbolic artefacts of these finds include beaded ornaments and ochre, ranging from late Middle Stone Age ( MSA ) in Bed V to LateStoneAge ( LSA ), and Neolithic culture in the upper levels (Mehlman 1989
Stratigraphically extensive sites with good organic preservation that date to the Pleistocene/Holocene transition are rare in southern Africa outside the Fynbos Biome of the Cape. However, the Caledon Valley, which forms Lesotho’s western border with South Africa, boasts an unusual concentration of such sites, especially in its central portion. Archaeological fieldwork ahead of the impoundment of the Metolong Dam provided a renewed — and final — opportunity to investigate two of these sites, Ha Makotoko and Ntloana Tšoana, as part of a much larger study of the area’s cultural heritage by the Metolong Cultural Heritage Management (MCRM) Project. This paper reports on the assemblages from the earlier part of the Later Stone Age sequence from Ha Makotoko. As well as confirming the presence of two distinct phases of occupation by makers of the Oakhurst Complex during the early Holocene, new excavations identified an earlier , Robberg Industry occupation of terminal Pleistocene age. These assemblages are described and those of early Holocene date compared to observations from the earlier 1989 excavation at Ha Makotoko. Strongly defined patterning in the overall organisation of the use of space at the site is recognised, along with the potential to begin exploring such sites to answer questions about social practices relevant at a human timescale. Comparison of Ha Makotoko with other sites in the Caledon Valley suggests that such opportunities may also exist elsewhere in the region and reinforces its significance for studies of the Pleistocene/Holocene transition at a sub-continental scale.
Recent re-excavation of Mumba Rockshelter unearthed an unbiased lithic sample from Bed V. Technological analysis has permitted a reinterpretation of the so-called Mumba Industry, a transitional industry between Middle and Later Stone Ages originally defined by Mehlman (1989). Our data confirm Mehlman’s observation that the “evolutionary” markers in Mumba Bed V are basically typological. However, our study differs from his in that we classify all of Bed V as LSA based on the combined analyses of typology and technology in our excavated assemblage. From a technological perspective, no changes have been observed throughout the sequence, and continuity is the main technological characteristic of the series. The only transitional marker from Lower through Upper Bed V is the appearance of the geometric crescent in the latter, taking into account that microliths exist throughout the sequence. This evidence casts some doubts on previous interpretations and underscores the need to recover a larger sample using modern excavation techniques. It also stresses the need to define the MSA/LSA transition in better terms, combining techno-typological criteria.
.g. Hovers & Kuhn 2006; Camps & Chauhan 2009). The other is practical, attempting to apply the criteria derived from theoretical considerations to the archaeological record (e.g. “transitional industries” of the Late Pleistocene in Europe and Africa, Early Upper Palaeolithic or early LateStoneAge ( lsa
. The South African Archaeological Bulletin 70 , 149 - 165 .
Barham , L. 1987 . The Bipolar Technique in Southern Africa: A Replication Experiment . The South African Archaeological Bulletin 42 , 45 - 50 .
Barham, L.S. 1989a. The LaterStoneAge of Swaziland . Unpublished Ph
In this paper, the results of the test excavations in two rock shelters in the Central Ethiopian escarpment near the Sudanese border are presented. A continuous sequence of quartz lithic industry, from the lowest levels of K’aaba (with an archaic MSA-like industry of side-scrapers, Levallois- discoid cores and unifacial points) to the upper levels of Bel K’urk’umu (with a LSA industry, characterised by elongated flakes and end-scrapers, that still displays many archaic features such as centripetal flakes and cores) may be inferred. The escarpment’s mountainous and forested areas may have acted as a refuge zone from the end of the Pleistocene, when hyper-arid conditions deterred human occupation of the Sudanese plains nearby, and may also have been a cause for the cultural archaism of the late MSA groups, a case similar to others recorded in the African continent (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nile Valley). The arrival of Sudanese pottery in the mid-Holocene period may be explained by the onset of arid conditions that drove “aqualithic” groups and early herders towards more humid areas. The conservative character of the late prehistoric cultural sequence derived from both sites is consistent with the resilient traditional nature of the Nilo- Saharan groups that currently settle the Ethio-Sudanese borderlands.
In southern Africa, the Later Stone Age and the Early Iron Age are generally treated as separate archaeologies, as if they really were different periods. In fact, the entire Iron Age overlaps with the last part of the Later Stone Age, and it is argued here that at the sub-continental scale the archaeology of one ‘Age’ might be better understood with reference to the other. The point is illustrated by plotting the distribution of all first millennium ceramics on the same map, regardless of their ‘Age.’ This sheds new light on the history of interactions and perhaps population movements in the sub-continent during the first millennium AD.
We report on excavations of a small rock shelter — Putslaagte 8 (PL8) — located on the arid interior fringe of South Africa’s Fynbos biome. The shelter preserves a long sequence of Holocene and late Pleistocene occupation dating back beyond 75,000 years BP. This paper presents data on the technological, faunal and chronological sequence. Occupation is markedly pulsed and includes three late Pleistocene Later Stone Age (LSA) units (macrolithic, Robberg and early LSA), as well as several distinct Middle Stone Age (MSA) components from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3–5. Pulsing may reflect the arid and possibly marginal environments in which the shelter is situated, and to that end some elements of the sequence contrast with occupational patterns towards the coast. Viewed in a regional setting PL8 suggests: 1) complementarity of resource movements between the coast and interior in terminal MIS 2; 2) distinctions in material selection, and possibly technology, between the coast and interior in earlier MIS 2; 3) an MSA lasting to at least 40,000 years before present; 4) a weak Howiesons Poort and post-Howiesons Poort in the interior; 5) possibly distinct periods of denticulate manufacture within the MIS 5 MSA; 6) highly localised patterns of material acquisition in the earlier MSA.
). Technological changes include those often used to define the Middle/LaterStoneAge transition, such as the increased use of bipolar percussion at the expense of the use of prepared (Levallois) cores to produce sharp-edge stone flakes, and the incremental replacement of retouched points by backed microliths as
the silt-trap behind Boulder 1, and because the site survey recorded evidence of an archaeological record ranging from rock art, LaterStoneAge lithics, ceramics and stone-built structures. Together these factors constituted a reasonable level of likelihood that material would come to light that