Matching Items (3)

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Lithic technological responses to Late Pleistocene glacial cycling at Pinnacle Point Site 5-6, South Africa

Description

There are multiple hypotheses for human responses to glacial cycling in the Late Pleistocene, including changes in population size, interconnectedness, and mobility. Lithic technological analysis informs us of human responses

There are multiple hypotheses for human responses to glacial cycling in the Late Pleistocene, including changes in population size, interconnectedness, and mobility. Lithic technological analysis informs us of human responses to environmental change because lithic assemblage characteristics are a reflection of raw material transport, reduction, and discard behaviors that depend on hunter-gatherer social and economic decisions. Pinnacle Point Site 5–6 (PP5-6), Western Cape, South Africa is an ideal locality for examining the influence of glacial cycling on early modern human behaviors because it preserves a long sequence spanning marine isotope stages (MIS) 5, 4, and 3 and is associated with robust records of paleoenvironmental change. The analysis presented here addresses the question, what, if any, lithic assemblage traits at PP5-6 represent changing behavioral responses to the MIS 5-4-3 interglacial-glacial cycle? It statistically evaluates changes in 93 traits with no a priori assumptions about which traits may significantly associate with MIS. In contrast to other studies that claim that there is little relationship between broad-scale patterns of climate change and lithic technology, we identified the following characteristics that are associated with MIS 4: increased use of quartz, increased evidence for outcrop sources of quartzite and silcrete, increased evidence for earlier stages of reduction in silcrete, evidence for increased flaking efficiency in all raw material types, and changes in tool types and function for silcrete. Based on these results, we suggest that foragers responded to MIS 4 glacial environmental conditions at PP5-6 with increased population or group sizes, ‘place provisioning’, longer and/or more intense site occupations, and decreased residential mobility. Several other traits, including silcrete frequency, do not exhibit an association with MIS. Backed pieces, once they appear in the PP5-6 record during MIS 4, persist through MIS 3. Changing paleoenvironments explain some, but not all temporal technological variability at PP5-6.

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Date Created
  • 2017-03-29

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New Experiments and a Model-Driven Approach for Interpreting Middle Stone Age Lithic Point Function Using the Edge Damage Distribution Method

Description

The Middle Stone Age (MSA) is associated with early evidence for symbolic material culture and complex technological innovations. However, one of the most visible aspects of MSA technologies are unretouched

The Middle Stone Age (MSA) is associated with early evidence for symbolic material culture and complex technological innovations. However, one of the most visible aspects of MSA technologies are unretouched triangular stone points that appear in the archaeological record as early as 500,000 years ago in Africa and persist throughout the MSA. How these tools were being used and discarded across a changing Pleistocene landscape can provide insight into how MSA populations prioritized technological and foraging decisions. Creating inferential links between experimental and archaeological tool use helps to establish prehistoric tool function, but is complicated by the overlaying of post-depositional damage onto behaviorally worn tools. Taphonomic damage patterning can provide insight into site formation history, but may preclude behavioral interpretations of tool function. Here, multiple experimental processes that form edge damage on unretouched lithic points from taphonomic and behavioral processes are presented. These provide experimental distributions of wear on tool edges from known processes that are then quantitatively compared to the archaeological patterning of stone point edge damage from three MSA lithic assemblages—Kathu Pan 1, Pinnacle Point Cave 13B, and Die Kelders Cave 1. By using a model-fitting approach, the results presented here provide evidence for variable MSA behavioral strategies of stone point utilization on the landscape consistent with armature tips at KP1, and cutting tools at PP13B and DK1, as well as damage contributions from post-depositional sources across assemblages. This study provides a method with which landscape-scale questions of early modern human tool-use and site-use can be addressed.

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Date Created
  • 2016-10-13

An Experimental Investigation of the Functional Hypothesis and Evolutionary Advantage of Stone-Tipped Spears

Description

Stone-tipped weapons were a significant innovation for Middle Pleistocene hominins. Hafted hunting technology represents the development of new cognitive and social learning mechanisms within the genus Homo, and may have

Stone-tipped weapons were a significant innovation for Middle Pleistocene hominins. Hafted hunting technology represents the development of new cognitive and social learning mechanisms within the genus Homo, and may have provided a foraging advantage over simpler forms of hunting technology, such as a sharpened wooden spear. However, the nature of this foraging advantage has not been confirmed. Experimental studies and ethnographic reports provide conflicting results regarding the relative importance of the functional, economic, and social roles of hafted hunting technology. The controlled experiment reported here was designed to test the functional hypothesis for stone-tipped weapons using spears and ballistics gelatin. It differs from previous investigations of this type because it includes a quantitative analysis of wound track profiles and focuses specifically on hand-delivered spear technology. Our results do not support the hypothesis that tipped spears penetrate deeper than untipped spears. However, tipped spears create a significantly larger inner wound cavity that widens distally. This inner wound cavity is analogous to the permanent wound cavity in ballistics research, which is considered the key variable affecting the relative ‘stopping power’ or ‘killing power’ of a penetrating weapon. Tipped spears conferred a functional advantage to Middle Pleistocene hominins, potentially affecting the frequency and regularity of hunting success with important implications for human adaptation and life history.

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Date Created
  • 2014-08-27