Patterns of Lithic Edge Damage from the Open-air Middle Stone Age Assemblages at Vleesbaai and Oyster Bay, South Africa

Author(s): Kyle Brown; Benjamin Schoville; Jayne Wilkins

Year: 2015


Much of our understanding of the South African Middle Stone Age (MSA) comes from deep sequences recovered from caves and rockshelters. These discreet, enclosed contexts represent one aspect of a foraging continuum; where many other activities take place on the continuous, open landscape. A different suite of taphonomic processes are also more likely to occur on open landscapes, complicating comparisons between site contexts. Developing meaningful inferences regarding past human behaviors requires testing models of both taphonomic and behavioral processes that influence observed archaeological patterning. Here we use assemblage-scale lithic edge damage patterning coupled with tool morphology (shape, size, and edge angle) to analyze two open-air MSA assemblages along the southern coast of South Africa. These assemblages contain components of microlithic, Howiesons Poort-like industries, which are poorly understood from open-air contexts. The archaeological edge damage distributions are compared to a long-term lithic trampling study undertaken over six-months at a small farm in Northern California, a fluvial tumbling experiment, as well as butchery and projectile experiments. We place our results within the context of a Paleoscape foraging system, where caves and open-air sites may represent different aspects of a transport, use, and discard spectrum.

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Cite this Record

Patterns of Lithic Edge Damage from the Open-air Middle Stone Age Assemblages at Vleesbaai and Oyster Bay, South Africa. Benjamin Schoville, Kyle Brown, Jayne Wilkins. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396804)


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Spatial Coverage

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