Characterizing the Late Pleistocene MSA Lithic Technology of Sibudu, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
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Studies of the African Middle Stone Age (MSA) have become central for defining the cultural adaptations that accompanied the evolution of modern humans. While much of recent research in South Africa has focused on the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort (HP), periods following these technocomplexes were often neglected. Here we examine lithic assemblages from Sibudu that post-date the HP to further the understanding of MSA cultural variability during the Late Pleistocene. Sibudu preserves an exceptionally thick, rich, and high-resolution archaeological sequence that dates to ∼58 ka, which has recently been proposed as type assemblage for the “Sibudan”. This study presents a detailed analysis of the six uppermost lithic assemblages from these deposits (BM-BSP) that we excavated from 2011–2013. We define the key elements of the lithic technology and compare our findings to other assemblages post-dating the HP. The six lithic assemblages provide a distinct and robust cultural signal, closely resembling each other in various technological, techno-functional, techno-economic, and typological characteristics. These results refute assertions that modern humans living after the HP possessed an unstructured and unsophisticated MSA lithic technology. While we observed several parallels with other contemporaneous MSA sites, particularly in the eastern part of southern Africa, the lithic assemblages at Sibudu demonstrate a distinct and so far unique combination of techno-typological traits. Our findings support the use of the Sibudan to help structuring this part of the southern African MSA and emphasize the need for further research to identify the spatial and temporal extent of this proposed cultural unit.
Sibudu, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, Late Pleistocene.
Will, Manuel; Bader, Gregor D.; and Conard, Nicholas J., "Characterizing the Late Pleistocene MSA Lithic Technology of Sibudu, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa" (2014). KIP Articles. 823.