The central African Middle Stone Age in context: Comparisons of technological adaptations


The Late Pleistocene Middle Stone Age (MSA) records of southern and northern Africa increasingly provide evidence for diversity in technological systems, with both exhibiting early examples of standardized stone tool production achieved through complex manufacturing sequences. This superficially implies a long-term trend toward greater complexity in MSA technology at a continental scale. However, within both regions, various lithic elements received different emphases over time and space – potentially in response to dramatic shifts in climate. New data from the central African record add perspective to how regional expressions of the Late Pleistocene MSA can be understood. Stone artifact assemblages from Karonga, Malawi, persistently lack the variety and complexity demonstrated to occur elsewhere in Africa at the same times, in spite of similar lithic raw material availability. Because the region experienced considerable variability in Late Pleistocene precipitation and vegetation regimes, climate change was not a universal determinant of technological change in the MSA. These data from the central African record provide an essential avenue for exploring new hypotheses about the roles of environmental risk and demography in shaping the expression of MSA technology across the continent, not just at a local scale.

Cite this Record

The central African Middle Stone Age in context: Comparisons of technological adaptations. Jessica Thompson, Alex Mackay, Sheila Nightingale, Flora Schilt, David Wright. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403438)


Spatial Coverage

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