Cryptotephra Studies in Africa: A Tool for Precise Dating and Continental Correlation of Archaeological Sites
This is an abstract from the "Recent Advances and Debates in the Pleistocene Archaeology of Africa" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
Placing archaeological sites on the same timeline across the African continent is essential for determining the initial appearance of key human behaviors and cultural features. Analytical error associated with traditional dating techniques makes these determinations difficult. Cryptotephra, which are small (<80 micron) volcanic glass shards that occur invisibly in sediments and are deposited nearly instantaneously after an eruption, can provide a new dating tool suitable for addressing questions that cannot be answered without precise age control. This can be particularly valuable in situations where radiocarbon and other techniques are not applicable. One widespread tephra deposit ideal for this purpose is the Youngest Toba Tuff (YTT), erupted ~74,000 years ago from Indonesia. YTT was identified at Lake Malawi (Lane et al., 2013) and on the southern coast of Africa at Pinnacle Point and Vleesbaai (Smith et al., 2018). YTT may have covered most of central and southern Africa, making its identification ideal for linking archaeological sites. Our goal is to provide regional correlation of archaeological sites by searching for YTT across Africa. We collected and processed samples from the Diepkloof rock shelter and Klasies River and plan to extend our work to other critical sites in southern, eastern and central Africa.
Cite this Record
Cryptotephra Studies in Africa: A Tool for Precise Dating and Continental Correlation of Archaeological Sites. Eugene Smith, Racheal Johnsen, Jayde Hirniak, Minghua Ren, Curtis Marean. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451699)
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min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;
Abstract Id(s): 23176