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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 3 (2) 2005

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H. Dietl, A.W. Kandel & N.J. Conard

Middle Stone Age settlement and land use at the open-air sites of Geelbek and Anyskop, South Africa

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 3 (2), 2005, pages 231-242, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10052

Abstract
The analysis of stone artefacts from the open-air localities of Geelbek and Anyskop in the Western Cape of South Africa offers new insight into the behaviour of Middle Stone Age hunters and gatherers. We examined five deflation bays in these mobile dune systems which, in contrast to caves or rockshelters, display large-scale spatial patterning with regard to the distribution of lithic artefacts and faunal remains. The definition of raw material units enabled us to reconstruct the patterns of production, use, and discard of stone artefacts. The results reveal that hunters and gatherers, such as those who produced Howiesons Poort stone artefacts, employed diverse planning strategies in terms of raw material exploitation, transport technology and site use. Although the faunal remains are not yet fully evaluated, the presence of stone points and segments suggests that hunting played an important role among the activities documented at Geelbek and Anyskop. The low number and heterogeneity of the stone artefacts suggest that people of the Middle Stone Age were highly mobile.
 
Résumé
L'étude de l'industrie lithique des sites de plein-air de Geelbek et Anyskop situés au Western Cape en Afrique du Sud a permis d'élargir nos connaissances sur le comportement des chasseurs-cueilleurs au cours du Middle Stone Age. L'étude en question a porté sur cinq baies de déflation dans un système de dunes mouvantes, ce qui, en l'absence de contraintes topographiques propres aux occupations sous abris ou en grotte, nous a permis d'aborder la question de l'organisation spatiale à large échelle des vestiges lithiques et fauniques. La distinction de différentes unités de matière première au sein de l'inventaire s'est avérée utile pour la reconstitution de la production effectuée sur place et de la sélection des supports. Les résultats tendent à nous montrer que les chasseurs-cueilleurs, comme par exemple ceux porteurs de l'industrie du type Howiesons Poort, ont eu recours à plusieurs stratégies de planification en termes d'exploitation du site, d'économie de débitage et de matière première. Alors que l'étude des restes fauniques est en cours, la présence de pointes lithiques et de segments suggèrent que la chasse devait jouer un rôle important au sein des activités relevées à Geelbek et Anyskop. Le faible nombre et l'hétérogénéité des artefacts lithiques suggèrent que les homes du Middle Stone Age étaient très mobiles.




Keywords: lithic technology, Middle Stone Age, open-air sites, settlement dynamics, Western Cape


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