Foragers, Herders and Harvesters: Modeling Shifts in Late Holocene Subsistence Strategies on South Africa’s West Coast
This is an abstract from the "Human Behavioral Ecology at the Coastal Margins: Global Perspectives on Coastal & Maritime Adaptations" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
The Western Cape coastline of South Africa has been inhabited by hunter-gatherers for over 120,000 years, making it an excellent place to test models of human behavioural ecology. Of particular interest is the transition at 2000 years ago from a sedentary maritime strategy focused on intensive mussel exploitation (Megamidden Period) to three concurrent approaches using high levels of mobility: a generalist foraging strategy (wide diet breadth); the introduction of herding; and mass harvesting coastal and terrestrial resources. Each of these strategies has various social implications including ownership and storage versus sharing, and yet to date there is very little evidence for competition for resources or boundaries. Populations maintained opportunistic immediate-return strategies rather than reverting back to the logistical strategies of the Megamidden period. After decades of research on this arid coastline, it remains uncertain if these represent one, two, or even three different cultural groups. What is clear is that the greatest focus on marine resources occurs during periods that are cooler and wetter than today (high productivity) and yet they are expressed in very different forms: the Megamidden period occurs during the Neoglacial and mass harvesting during the Little Ice Age.
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Foragers, Herders and Harvesters: Modeling Shifts in Late Holocene Subsistence Strategies on South Africa’s West Coast. Genevieve Dewar, Brian Stewart. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450746)
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min long: 9.58; min lat: -35.461 ; max long: 57.041; max lat: 4.565 ;
Abstract Id(s): 25873