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Wood foraging in the tree-limited environment of the Cape Floral Region of South Africa

Author(s): Chloe Atwater ; Alastair Potts ; Jan de Vynck ; Kim Hill ; Jayne Wilkins

Year: 2015

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Wood is an essential resource for hunter-gatherers. It is necessary for cooking fuel, heat, and potentially safety, and hence influences site location choice and group size. Due to a low diversity and abundance of trees, wood may have been a limited resource for early humans in the Cape Floral Region (CFR) of South Africa. Drawing from behavior ecology foraging models, experiments with modern wood foragers were conducted to test this hypothesis. Foragers were observed collecting indigenous wood fuel species in the seven biomes present in the CFR and central place foraging models were applied. Experimental fires were also performed to assess the quality of the wood fuels. Preliminary results indicate that woody fynbos species provide sufficient fuel for human needs in a stable environment, despite the low abundance of tree wood. Future experiments will investigate how fire events and depletion due to human exploitation affect wood availability. Results will be built into an agent-based model of the paleoscape of the CFR.

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Wood foraging in the tree-limited environment of the Cape Floral Region of South Africa. Chloe Atwater, Jan de Vynck, Alastair Potts, Jayne Wilkins, Kim Hill. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396825)


Spatial Coverage

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