Excavations at Boomplaas cave ‐ a sequence through the upper Pleistocene and Holocene in South Africa

Alternative Title

World Archaeology


H. J. Deacon


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Publication Date


Volume Number


Issue Number



Boomplaas Cave in the Cango Valley of South Africa preserves a well stratified sequence of Upper Pleistocene and Holocene deposits including a series of discrete human occupation horizons. The excavation has been designed to provide information on the cultural sequence and the function of the cave in the settlement pattern. At different times in the past the cave has served as a stock pen for small stock, as a place for the storage of oil rich fruits and as a hunting camp. In addition, research in the cave has been coupled to a palaeoecological study of changes in vegetation and fauna in the local biome during the late Quaternary. Data have been collected from macroscopic plant remains including charcoals, pollens, micromammals and larger mammal remains and a vegetation survey of the valley has been made to serve as a baseline against which observations on past habitats can be compared. Preliminary analysis of the artefacts in the Upper Pleistocene sequence suggest that the boundary between the Middle and Later Stone Age traditions is placed here between 30,000 and 40,000 years b.p. and that while the Middle Stone Age populations may have been anatomically modern, their behaviour patterns do not show comparable continuity with the ethnographic present.

Document Type


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)