Technological change in the Earlier and Middle Stone Age of Kalambo Falls (Zambia)

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Technological change in the Earlier and Middle Stone Age of Kalambo Falls (Zambia)
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  African Archaeological Review, Vol. 13, No. 3, 1996 Technological Change in the Earlier and Middle Stone Age of Kalambo Falls Zambia) Peter J. Sheppard I and Maxine IL Kleindienst 2 This paper reviews data on technological change in the manufacture of stone tools from the Earlier Stone Age (ESA) to Middle Stone Age (MSA including Sangoan) deposits at Site A, Kalambo Falls, Zambia. Data on flake and tool morphology, dimensions, and raw material are discussed. It is concluded that there is little change, at this site, in the basic techniques of blank production or the attributes of the blanks produced from the ESA to the MSA. The only marked change to occur is the loss of large cutting tools (hand axes, cleavers) and their replacement by heavy-duty forms (core axes, picks). It is hypothesized that this change marks a decline in portability as a factor in the design of large edge tools. Cet article donne un compte rendu des donnds sur la change technologique dans la fabrication des outils lithiques en les ddp6ts du Earlier Stone Age (ESA) jusqu a la Middle Stone Age (MSA, qui comprit la Sangoan) au gisement A, Kalambo Falls, Zambia. Des donnds sur la morphologie, les dimensions et les matdriaux des dclats et des outils sont examindes. II est infdrd qu il y a peu de changement, ~ ce gisement, dans le techniques dldmentaires de la fabrication des supports ou clans les attributs des supports taillds du ESA jusqu a MSA. Le seule change qui se prdsent f est la perte des gros outils pour couper (bifaces, hachereaux) et leur remplacement par des formes plus substantiels (core axes, pics). On fait l hypoth~se que ce changement indique une ddclin de portabilitd comme facteur dans le dessein des outils avec des grands tranchants. KEY WORDS: Earlier Stone Age; Middle Stone Age; Acheulean; Kalambo Falls; Zambia. tDepartment of Anthropology University of Auckland Private Bag 92019 Auckland New Zealand. 2Department of Anthropology Erindale College University of Toronto 3359 Mississauga Road Mississanga Ontario Canada LSL 1C6. 171 0263-0338/96/09004 171509.50/0 O 1996 Plenum Publishing Corporation   72 Sheppard and Kleindienst INTRODUCTION Major changes in human physical type and technology occurred throughout Africa and Eurasia, between ca. 350,000 and 100,000 B.P. The first Homo sapiens appear, replacing archaic sapiens stock; this change ap- pears to be correlated with the loss of the highly successful Acheulean hand axe and cleaver technology that had spread throughout Africa and Eurasia and had persisted in Africa for over a million years. Varied patterns of change from Acheulean to something else have been noted. The question why this technological change occurred is of great interest. Unfortunately, evidence, in the form of well-dated human fossils and archaeological sites which span this transition, is scarce (Clark, 1982, 1988, 1993; Howell, 1982; Stringer, 1993), and the available dating methods are imprecise. One archaeological site which spans the transition from the later Upper Acheulean (ESA) to the earlier Middle Stone Age (MSA) industries is Kalambo Falls (Zambia). Although this site was thought to have transitional aggregates (Clark, 1965), attempts at dating the Acheulean and early MSA at Kalambo Falls have indicated that there could be a significant time gap between these (Clark, 1982, p. 291; Kleindienst, 1969, p. 146; Kliendienst et al. 1977). The Kalambo Falls evidence can, however, still be useful in studying this problem, particularly in document- ing the extent and type of change which occurred in one geographical lo- cation, thereby suggesting factors important to understanding that change. Of the East African sites which span the relevant time range, e.g., Isimila (Cole and Kleindienst, 1974), Nsongezi (Cole, 1967), Lake Eyasi (Mehlman, 1989, 1991), Olduvai (Hay, 1976; Leakey, 1979), Songhor- Muguruk (McBrearty, 1987, 1988), and Kapurthin (Cornelissen, 1989, 1992), the Kalambo Falls sequence provides the most adequate samples throughout. The entire concept of transitional industries, implying, as it does, a gradualist model of change, may be incorrect. Change may occur in a rela- tively short-time or may have been a very complex process proceeding at different rates, at different times and places. This may be further compli- cated by activity variation reflected in different assemblage types (change may appear in one activity phase and not in another). The alternation of Howieson's Poort and typical MSA at Klasies River Mouth (Singer and Wymer, 1982), for example, certainly challenges any assumption of gradual change in lithic technology. At)its simplest, technological change is by loss, addition, or replacement, none of which need to be gradual. When humans change their ideas of how to make and use tools, they change their prod- ucts. Older ways do not necessarily persist for a long enough time to be apparent in Pleistocene archaeological samples.  Technological Change in the Stone ge of Kalambo Falls 73 Whatever the pattern of change, the paucity of data and our lack of fine chronological resolution make it doubtful that we will be able to isolate something which we might label a transitional industry. Therefore, un- derstanding of the changes will come from investigation of sites such as Kalambo Falls, which have both final ESA and early MSA assemblages but not necessarily assemblages considered transitional. Contrasts ob- served between industries will not provide explanations for changes but will indicate the essential features of what changes and, possibly, suggest hy- potheses for further investigation. In this study, we document the type and degree of technological (core reduction, blank production) and morphological (tool classes) change oc- curring between the ESA and the MSA at Kalambo Falls. As an added benefit, this will also provide some documentation on one of the few large samples of the relatively unknown Sangoan Industrial/Techno Complex [or facies? (cf. Clark, 1982, p. 244)]. Finally, we suggest lines of inquiry which might prove useful in explaining the changes based on the study of the Kalambo Fails data. THE DATABASE The data used in this study come from analysis of the Upper Acheulean (Bwalya Industry), Sangoan (Chipeta Industry) and early Lu- pemban (Nakisasa Industry) aggregates excavated from Trench A4, River Face Trench A5, and Site B2 (Sangoan only) at Kalambo Falls. The data were collected by members of the original project, and analyses were done by Kleindienst from 1959 to 1960 and in 1963; therefore, not all the at- tributes of current interest are available. However, the original analysis was detailed even by current standards, allowing study of many technological and morphological attributes. Computer recording and analyses were clone by Sheppard from 1987 to 1989. Table I lists the stratigraphic units studied together with data on the nature of the associated sediments, the total number of artifacts recovered, and relevant dates (see Clark and Cole, 1969; Clark and Kleindienst, 1969, 1974). Only those units with relatively large samples, and those units which were estimated on geological grounds in the field as unlikely to reflect mix- ing of the ESA and MSA, are included. The youngest sample is an early Lupemban aggregate from Rubble IIA in Trench A4 which is at least as old as the 31,660 B.P. + 600 year date (GRN 4648) of charcoal from a clay bed immediately above Rubble IIA and younger than the 40,000 to 46,000 B.P. dates (GRN 3196, 40,6000 + 1300 years; GRN 3226, 46,100 B.P. _+ 3500-2400 years) from under Rubble IIB (Clark and Kleindienst,  174 Sheppard and leindienst Table I. Stratigraphic Units Studied a Stratum Industry Sediment Date N Table code A4 Rubble IIA E. Lupemban Angular rubble >31,660__.600 967 A4-IIA G~ 4648) A4 Rubble IIB E. Lupemban Angular rubble 570 A4-IIB B2 Bed 14 to Floor IV Sangoan Fine gravel GRN 3237) 2838 B2-Sang and sand 42,000• B2 Floor IV Sangoan Cross-bedded 1646 B2-Sangflr sands A4 Beds 29a, 29b, 29c Sangoan Coarse sand 2050 A4-Sang A5 Bed 11 MSA? Bedded coarse > GRN 4259) 1611 A5-Bedll Clark 1969, p. 140) sand 37,450-+600 A5 Composite Horizon Acheulean Clay and fine GRN 4896) 2371 A5-Comp Beds 37, 39, 41 sand 61,200• A5 Lower Horizon Acheulean Clay 210 A5-Lower Bed 43 aSee Clark 1969) for details. These codes are used in the data tables. 1974, p. 79). However, conservative use of 14C dates would place all the samples beyond 14C dating range cf. Isaac, 1982, p. 104). The amino acid racemization date of wood from the Upper Acheulean in Site B of 110,000 years Clark, 1982, p. 291; Kleindienst et al. 1977; Lee et al. 1976) indicates that the enriched date of 61,200 B.P. + 1280 years GRN 4896) associated with the stratigraphically higher Acheulean from bed 33 does not accurately date the aggregate and should not be cited as a finite date, although the amino acid date should also be interpreted with caution because of prob- lems assooiated with the technique. Virtually all archaeological aggregates at Kalambo Falls have experi- enced some form of natural disturbance in alluvial or colluvial contexts Kleindienst, 1969; Schick, 1992); however, the aggregates analyzed here have, in general, suffered relatively little disturbance based upon incidence of geological wear) compared to some of the more recent aggregates i.e., material found above A4 IIA). Figure 1 presents data on the degree of geological wear . abrasion and rounding) exhibited by the samples. Differ- ent materials wear or weather at different rates; based on field observa- tions, at Kalambo dolerite is weathered to clay by A5 Acheulean times, and of the more resistant materials, feldspathic quartzite is the least resis- tant, followed by siliceous mudstone and then hard quartzite.) The Acheulean aggregates contain ~edominately fresh material. The Rubble II aggregates contain the high6st percentage of worn artifacts, while the B2 sample is intermediate between the Acheulean and the Rubble II sam- pies. Although all these units have been disturbed by natural processes, as shown by geological wear and field context, the effect of these on the ar-  Technological Change in the Stone Age of Kalambo Falls 75 Percentage 20 [ ~ N 1931 1531 ~39 I I I 10 i A4*I]A A4-1IB 4-Sang. 5-Bedll S-Comp, S-LowerB2-Sang. Level Geological Wear Fresh II Low Wear ~ Wom Fig. 1. Geological wear exhibited by unretouched de- bitage by level. chaeological samples is not clear (Cole, 1961, pp. 45-54). Fluvial action can result in abrasion of artifact edges by sand blasting, or small pieces may be moved about in restricted zones and jostled against larger pieces without being moved far from their locus of srcinal abandonment. Larger artifacts will tend to be concentrated on the surface of any sandy deposit (Leopold, 1964, p. 212) and will be exposed for longer periods than small pieces. The relationship between geological wear and the degree of distur- bance is therefore not easily understood (Shackley, 1978). The presence of wear need not mean that the samples are no longer representative of the srcinal sample deposited or that samples of different ages or sources are present. The units attributed to the Sangoan and Final Acheulean were recov- ered from fine to coarse sands and gravels associated with old stream bank or channel deposits, while the early Lupemban aggregates were found in gravels (Rubble II, Trench A4). It is not probable that the .archaeological materials found in these sands and gravels are lags created by the removal of fines from a long stratigraphic column containing a number of distinct industries, because they lie in channel deposits of an aggrading river. Although these samples have been disturbed by fluvial action, the srcinal investigators (Clark and Kleindienst) felt that they were repre- sentative of particular industrial stages (e.g., Acheulean Bwalya Industry, Sangoan Chipeta Industry). The artifacts in Rubble II, stratigraphically well above Chipeta aggregates, do cover some time span; however, the gravel(s) is separated by sterile fine sands and clays (units 16 and 17) from later strata (lag gravel Rubble I and the colluvial Red Rubble) containing arti- facts which were considered on typological grounds (Clark and Kleindienst, 1974, pp. 74--79) to be predominately Lupemban. Therefore, it is probable
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