The Howiesons Poort and MSA III at Klasies River main site, Cave 1A


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March 2010


We present the results of a technological analysis of the Howiesons Poort and MSA III lithic artifacts from Cave 1A at Klasies River. We studied most of the debitage and retouched pieces from Deacon's excavations (about 3000 pieces) and all the cores and retouched pieces from three layers of Singer and Wymer excavations (640 pieces). Our analysis shows: (1) that HP blade production was based on the use of marginal percussion by soft stone hammer, as at Rose Cottage; (2) that impact scars at Klasies, Rose Cottage and Sibudu indicate that the backed pieces were hafted in two different ways; and (3) that the HP backed pieces were an innovative way of hafting spear tips but are not clear evidence of the invention of bows and arrows. We document the gradual evolution of debitage techniques within the HP sequence with progressive abandonment of the HP technological style. Very similar trends occur in the upper part of the HP sequence at Rose Cottage. The similarity in temporal trends between sites separated by more than 600 km has significant implications for the disappearance of the HP industry. We suggest that the disappearance of the HP was not due to a phenomenon of population contraction and isolation that caused the collapse of social networks. The internal evolution and parallel process of change documented at Klasies and Rose Cottage speak against a collapse of social systems and are associated with evidence of environmental and subsistence changes at the transition MIS 4/3.


Howiesons Poort, Msa Iii, Klasies River Mouth, South Africa, Technology

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Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 37, no. 3 (2010-03-01).