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Taphonomic evidence for human accumulation of small mammals from Pinnacle Point Site 5-6 and other MSA sites in South Africa

Author(s): Aaron Armstrong

Year: 2015

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Our capacity to detect the utilization of small prey resources by MSA humans can help shed light on subsistence strategies, cognition, and social organization during this critical period in human evolution. Recent analyses of South African MSA faunas suggest an expansion of dietary breadth after ~100 ka with the increase in the exploitation of small mammals (<5 kg) during MIS 4, but until now there has been little taphonomic evidence to support these conclusions. I present the results of a taphonomic study of 6,051 faunal specimens sampled from throughout the 91-50 ka late Pleistocene occupation at Pinnacle Point Site 5-6. Small mammals account for just 3% of the sample and specimens are only moderately preserved; despite these limitations, there is some evidence of cutmarked and calcined bone suggesting human contribution. These results, which consider the origin, abundance, and preservation conditions of small mammals at PP5-6 support my dissertation work at Die Kelders where I have shown the MSA humans were recurrently exploiting small mammals. With rigorous taphonomic documentation of South African MSA small prey accumulations, causal factors such as environmental change, population pressure, and advanced technologies can be more thoroughly addressed.

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Taphonomic evidence for human accumulation of small mammals from Pinnacle Point Site 5-6 and other MSA sites in South Africa. Aaron Armstrong. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396797)


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min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America