New study finds 'staying longer at home' was key to stone age technology change 60,000 years ago

phys.org | 10/9/2017 | Staff
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A new study by scientists at the University of the Witwatersrand suggests that at about 58,000 years ago, Stone Age humans began to settle down, staying in one area for longer periods. The research also provides a potential answer to a long-held mystery: why older, Howiesons Poort complex technological tradition in South Africa, suddenly disappear at that time.

Sibudu, a rock shelter near Tongaat in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, has a long and diverse archaeological sequence.

Research - Paper - Dr - Paloma - Peña

The research paper by Dr Paloma de la Peña and Professor Lyn Wadley from the Evolutionary Studies Institute and the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, was published today, 5 October 2017, in PlosOne, and is titled: Technological variability at Sibudu Cave: The end of Howiesons Poort and reduced mobility strategies after 62,000 years ago.

De la Peña and Wadley explore the changes observed between an industry known as the Howiesons Poort (dated about 65,000 to 62,000 years ago at Sibudu) and the one that followed it at about 58,000 years ago.

Howiesons - Poort - Sibudu - Stone - Tools

The Howiesons Poort at Sibudu contains many finely-worked, crescent-shaped stone tools fashioned from long, thin blades made on dolerite, hornfels and, to a lesser extent, quartz. These 'segments', as they are called, were hafted to shafts or handles at a variety of angles using compound adhesives that sometimes included red ochre (an iron oxide).

A diverse bone tool kit in the Howiesons Poort includes what may be the world's oldest bone arrowhead. Certainly a variety of hunting techniques was used perhaps including the first use of snares for the capture of small creatures. The animal remains brought to Sibudu reflect this diversity for there are bones from large plains game like zebra, tiny blue duiker, and even pigeons and small carnivores.

Soft - Clayey - Ochre - Pieces

Soft, clayey ochre pieces were collected...
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