SA's archaeological wonder-sites reveal more of the origins of our unity and diversity

SA's archaeological wonder-sites reveal more of the origins of our unity and diversity
Blombos Still Bay points. Credit: Wits University

Two of South Africa's most famous archaeological sites, Sibudu and Blombos, have revealed that Middle Stone Age groups who lived in these different areas, more than 1 000 kilometres apart, used similar types of stone tools some 71 000 years ago, but that there were differences in the ways that these tools were made.

"This was not the case at 65 000 years ago when similarities in tool making suggest that similar cultural traditions spread across South Africa," says Professor Lyn Wadley, archaeologist from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Wadley is part of an international team of researchers from South Africa, France, the US and Italy who published the results of their systematic study of Middle Stone Age (MSA) stone tool technologies in a paper, titled: The Still Bay and Howiesons Poort at Sibudu and Blombos: Understanding Middle Stone Age technologies, in the journal, PLOS ONE, on 10 July 2015.

The team also includes Wits University's Professor Christopher Henshilwood, as well as lead author Sylvain Soriano (France), Paola Villa (US), and others.

The researchers undertook systematic technological and typological analysis on two types of Middle Stone Age assemblages - Still Bay and Howiesons Poort - from two of the most famous from this time period in South Africa, Blombos Cave in the Western Cape and Sibudu in KwaZulu-Natal. At these sites we find much of the archaeological evidence for the origins of modern human behaviour.

In the paper, using their own and published data from other sites, the researchers report on the diversity between stone artifact assemblages and discuss to what extent they can be grouped into homogeneous lithic sets.

In agreement with results of previous studies of broadly contemporaneous Howiesons Poort assemblages by other analysts, the researchers' analysis argues for some uniformity in this cultural entity among sites spread across a vast region from the Western Cape to the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

SA's archaeological wonder-sites reveal more of the origins of our unity and diversity
Howiesons Poort baked tools of quartz. Credit: Wits University

Despite the use of different rock types in each site, Howiesons Poort craftsmen follow the same pattern to knap stone. Small blades were produced and used as blanks for "penknife-like" backed and pointed tools, hafted and used both as cutting devices and composite elements of hunting weaponry.

This supports the idea of a long-lasting system of complex behavioural traditions that may have been socially transmitted by teaching and verbal instructions. The study also implies that the Howiesons Poort complex was not static, but underwent gradual changes through time.

A similar approach was used in the analysis of the Still Bay assemblages from Sibudu and Blombos. At Sibudu, stone knapping was almost completely oriented towards the production of thin, long, double pointed stone points.

These points were designed for a primary use as cutting devices and a long re-sharpening process was applied to these tools to ensure their long-life use. These points were also used as tips of hunting weapons.

Although elements of similarity are certainly present, the manufacturing differences observed between the Sibudu and Blombos Still Bay-type tools considerably weaken their grouping into the same cultural entity. In other words, at 71 000 years ago stone tool making at Sibudu and Blombos did not share the same rules and traditions. Still Bay sites are still not common in South Africa and future research might provide new observations needed to see whether the Still Bay really does have directional change different from that in the Howiesons Poort.


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Journal information: PLoS ONE

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Citation: SA's archaeological wonder-sites reveal more of the origins of our unity and diversity (2015, July 10) retrieved 26 April 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-07-sa-archaeological-wonder-sites-reveal-unity.html
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Jul 11, 2015
"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." -- Mark Twain

Jul 11, 2015
@Ren82

The flood NEVER happened!

Jul 11, 2015
When watching such kind of artifacts I wonder what tools have at the beginning the flood survivors inhabitants of Earth to get food and process the necessary belongings.

Must be pretty advanced to build a ship large enough to carry 2 of each species currently present on earth.
How would the survivors feed themselves? what about the animals that survived?. A worldwide flood for 40 days is going to destroy all ecosystems that had been present and leave nothing for anything but the scavengers that can eat rotting decaying dead matter.

Jul 11, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jul 13, 2015
@Vietvet

The only reason which explains why we have wonderfully preserved fossils today is the flood. There is no other way to preserve such many organisms from predators, scavengers, and natural rotting thanks to the microorganisms.


Why did so few form when all the animals on earth died except for two of each? The populations were massive for many yet we find so few.
Well. Except the countless species no longer around that for some reason god didn't see fit to survive on Noah's ark.

Jul 13, 2015
Must be pretty advanced to build a ship large enough to carry 2 of each species currently present on earth
@jsdark
not just two
Gen 7:2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female
so pigs only went in two's, but the clean animals went in SEVENS, something ignored by biblical idiots still today! that was one HUGE ship which, per the measurements, dwarfed the largest wood ship ever built by at least a multiple of 4, but closer to 7!
it would not be able to stay afloat as the seas ripped apart the largest wooden ship ever built in short order

that whole flood MYTH also forgets to mention the problem with dispersal after the flood...like how AUS animals are so different from everywhere else...

let them first explain the whole "by two's" stupidity when their own book says by SEVENS... then lets get them to explain dispersal and physics of the ship!
LOL

Jul 13, 2015
The only reason which explains why we have wonderfully preserved fossils today is the flood
@renTROLL
then why is there absolutely NO evidence of a flood in the geological record?
when it flooded, did it also drown the sharks, porpoises, fish and other aquatic life?
why is it that you religious nuts can't even get your own biblical proclamations correct?
There is no other way to preserve such many organisms
one last point, which includes this garbage you posted...

WHY is it that the geological record contains fossils, but cannot support the flood myth with a HUGE abundant record of fossilized drowned (preserved) animals like the other recorded fossils?

considering the rapid onset of death, there would be an enormous record to be seen (there isn't one)

we can map other historical extinctions... why can no one find the flood event?

why would your god lie so much to you about it, too?

Jul 13, 2015
Why did so few form when all the animals on earth died except for two of each? The populations were massive for many yet we find so few.
Well. Except the countless species no longer around that for some reason god didn't see fit to survive on Noah's ark.
@jsdark
watch this video about that ark... https://www.youtu...hXQTMOEc

it will make you stand up and say WTF... especially considering that the animals went in sevens, not two's!
again, the KJV and bibles from even older sources show, per GEN 7:2 that the animals went in pairs of SEVEN... SEVEN male and female of each clean animal, which outnumbered the "pig" type unclean animals by at least 3:1!!
Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female
LOL imagine that... still to this day, they all keep getting it wrong (so much for their biblical reading, right?)

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