Ha Makotoko: Later Stone Age Occupation across the Pleistocene/Holocene Transition in Western Lesotho

In: Journal of African Archaeology
Peter MitchellSchool of Archaeology, St Hugh’s College,
GAES, University of the Witwatersrand

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Charles ArthurInstitute of Archaeology, University of

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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.

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