A Segment is not a Monolith: evidence from the Howiesons Poort of Sibudu, South Africa


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September 2008


Segments from the Howiesons Poort of Sibudu, South Africa, can be separated into at least three populations based on quartz, hornfels and dolerite rocks used for their production. Length, breadth, thickness and tip cross-sectional areas are significantly different between segments made on the three rock types. Segments are not monoliths, and they were not intended as a single tool type, they were flexible enough to be mounted to shafts in a variety of ways. Several hafting strategies are evident, including the use of different adhesive recipes. Most segments were probably parts of hunting weapons, based on use trace analysis, but weapon types varied. Quartz segments have standardized shapes (short and deep), perhaps because they were hafted as transverse arrowheads. While hornfels and dolerite segments may on occasion also have been parts of projectiles, the large dolerite segments could sometimes have served as parts of spearheads, with two segments hafted back-to-back. Howiesons Poort segment technology is sophisticated; its makers appreciated distinct properties of rocks, their flaking, wear and impact possibilities. Further, they recognized the best sizes and shapes for use with each kind of weapon, they understood the qualities and applications of various adhesive recipes, and they knew how to make a variety of hafts from materials that included bone and wood.


Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 35, no. 9 (2008-09-01).


Howiesons Poort, South Africa, Sibudu, Segments, Hunting Weapons


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Howiesons Poort; South Africa; Sibudu; Segments; Hunting Weapons




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