Sourcing Lithic Raw Materials in the Namib Desert: Exploring land use and technological organization


Under a technological organization perspective, archaeologists seek to understand how prehistoric societies organized their activities across landscapes and how variation at individual sites articulates with changes in large scale land use systems. Lithic sourcing offers a powerful tool for testing hypotheses about technological organization and land use, but its application across the globe has, until recently, been hindered by expense and methodological difficulties. In this paper, we use pXRF and ICP-MS and the results of a two-year geological sampling survey to source a large sample of artifacts from three late Pleistocene sites in the Namib Desert. Our analysis shows that prehistoric groups who made very different types of stone tools also used the Namib's landscape in different ways along a continuum of variability. Middle Stone Age groups appear to have focused subsistence activities in fertile river beds while Later Stone Age people appear to have had novel mobility patterns, exploiting coastal zones as well as much wider ranges in the desert. Our data provide some of the first empirical insights into land use and mobility systems employed by Upper Pleistocene populations in Southern Africa and have important implications for regional studies as well as the broader "MSA/LSA transition".

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Sourcing Lithic Raw Materials in the Namib Desert: Exploring land use and technological organization. Theodore Marks, Grant McCall, James Enloe, Andrew Schroll, James McGrath. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430484)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17305