Middle Stone Age technological and behavioural developments in southern Africa are central to understanding the emergence of modern humans, and elucidating the role of environmental change in this trajectory is dependent on emerging palaeoclimatic reconstructions. Climate proxies from Middle Stone Age sites are often poorly preserved, coarsely resolved or subject to anthropogenic selection and are not considered in favour of global environmental proxies despite the fact that the modern climate regimes at the relevant archaeological sites differ profoundly. Sibudu has a well-preserved Middle Stone Age sequence that has yielded abundant palaeoclimate proxy data. Isotopic analysis of charcoal, charcoal anatomy and species representation, macro- and micro-faunal remains, sediment texture, mineralogy and magnetic susceptibility, pollen and macrobotanical remains provide evidence for the environmental succession specific to this site. The isotopic data suggest that archaeological charcoal was not significantly post-depositionally altered. During the Howiesons Poort (65–62 ka) the local environment was thickly forested, moist and more humid than during the 58 ka occupations. The environment changes during the post-Howiesons Poort occupation (~58 ka) into the late MSA occupation (~48 ka); conditions became drier and colder than present with vegetation shifting to open savanna grassland or woodlands.
Etemba 14 was excavated in two seasons (1968 and 1984) and yielded a stratigraphic sequence with Later Stone Age (LSA) and Middle Stone Age (MSA) material. Stone Age (LSA) and Middle Stone Age (MSA) material. Human remains discovered among material of the first excavation had been assigned to the MSA complex. The diachronic analysis of material from the second excavation showed that 1) the transition correlates with the sedimentological change from Unit IV to V, contrary to previous interpretations; 2) the interface most probably reflects a considerable time span; 3) the human cranial fragments belong to the LSA complex; 4) an undisturbed MSA layer was identified at the base of the second excavation.
A technological analysis of the MSA assemblage showed that discoidal reduction was the prevailing concept, independent of the raw material used. Cores made out of quartz show additionally a simple, unipolar reduction. Pointed flakes (pseudo-Levallois points) are frequent; blades are irregular and very scarce. The reconstruction of the chaîne opératoire allows some suggestions about the activities that took place on site. Early MSA assemblages from the south-western part of Namibia show similar technological features. Whether the discoid technology used at Etemba 14 is a chronological marker or a local expression of functional or economic needs requires further research.
The analysis of stone artefacts from the open-air localities of Geelbek and Anyskop in the Western Cape of South Africa offers new insight into the behaviour of Middle Stone Age hunters and gatherers. We examined five deflation bays in these mobile dune systems which, in contrast to caves or rockshelters, display large-scale spatial patterning with regard to the distribution of lithic artefacts and faunal remains. The definition of raw material units enabled us to reconstruct the patterns of production, use, and discard of stone artefacts. The results reveal that hunters and gatherers, such as those who produced Howiesons Poort stone artefacts, employed diverse planning strategies in terms of raw material exploitation, transport technology and site use. Although the faunal remains are not yet fully evaluated, the presence of stone points and segments suggests that hunting played an important role among the activities documented at Geelbek and Anyskop. The low number and heterogeneity of the stone artefacts suggest that people of the Middle Stone Age were highly mobile.
I provide a qualitative study of the unpublished portions of the Middle Stone Age (MSA) lithic assemblage from the Porc-Epic cave site in Ethiopia, presently conserved at the National Museum of Ethiopia (NME), in Addis Ababa.
Previous investigation of all the lithic material collected during the 1933 excavations resulted in an in-depth technological study, revealing its important technical variability, and integrated this material into a regional and continental context. The focus here are the 1975-76 excavations at Porc-Epic Cave, which have provided a collection of several tens of thousands of stone tools, forming the majority of the total lithic material of the cave. This collection, never before studied, published, or inventoried, is stored at the NME in Addis Ababa. It is remarkable for its quantitative importance and its relevance to Ethiopian heritage, as well as for its scientific interest concerning the behaviour of modern humans more than 70,000 years ago.
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.
Many Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites have evidence of the regular collection and use of ochre. Sibudu (KwaZulu- Natal, South Africa) has a large MSA ochre assemblage of over 9000 pieces from layers dating between ~77 ka and ~38 ka. There are 682 pieces with signs of use. All usetraces were examined and activity categories were defined based on published ochre experiments. The most frequent markings on ochre pieces are grinding striations that are smoothed by subsequent rubbing. Grinding and rubbing also occur independently on many pieces. Scored pieces are rare, but are more common in the pre-Still Bay (~77 ka) industry than elsewhere in the sequence. Some scored pieces may represent deliberate engravings. Markings acquired during powder-production are most numerous in the assemblage. Powder was mostly produced from bright-red pieces, but scoring was mainly performed on brown-red pieces. Pieces with mica inclusions are not common, but were favoured for powder production. Ochre powder was used as an aggregate in hafting adhesives, but other possible applications are as paint or as a substance to aid hide tanning.
; Henshilwood et al. 2001; Jerardino & Marean 2010; Marean 2014; Marean et al. 2007). As a result, the study of Neanderthals and the European Middle Paleolithic was replaced by a renewed interest in the African Middle and Late Pleistocene and the MiddleStoneAge ( MSA ), as defined initially by Goodwin & van
human occupation of central Sudan during the Pleistocene. Figure 1 Map of the Sudan indicating the main localities cited in the text. The MiddleStoneAge ( MSA ) is the archaeological context for the evolution and spread of Homo sapiens within and out of Africa. In Sudan, the MSA is characterised
G. Caton-Thompson and E. W. Gardner designated new Pleistocene cultural units at Kharga Oasis in the 1930’s: both were originally termed ‘pre-Sebilian’, but were later locally named the ‘Levalloiso-Khargan’ and ‘Khargan’ industries. High on the Bulaq scarp face, a puzzling cluster of stone ‘alignments’ was discovered in 1931–32, with a reported, but discounted, association with ‘Levalloiso-Khargan’ artefacts. Gardner excavated some features in 1933. Members of the Kharga Oasis Prehistory Project relocated ‘Site J’ in January 2011, and verified the reported Khargan associations with the features. In 2008, the project found structural features associated with Khargan artefacts in the northern Gebel Yebsa survey area, confirming earlier finds in the southern oases of Kurkur and Dungul. Evidence there, and that found in Kharga and Dakhleh oases, is now designated as the Khargan Complex. The associated built stone features of the included cultural units appear to be unique in Late Pleistocene Africa, especially at Bulaq.
Philip Allsworth-Jones, The MiddleStoneAge of Nigeria in its West African Context. Oxford, Archaeopress, 2019, 260 pp. ISBN 978-1-7896-9138-2 (paperback). This is a very welcome addition to the archaeological literature on the MiddleStoneAge of Nigeria and parts of West Africa, a region