Wurz, S. 2014. Southern and East African Middle Stone Age: Geography and Culture. In: Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology.

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Wurz, S. 2014. Southern and East African Middle Stone Age: Geography and Culture. In: Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology.
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  animals and plants, given the abundance of wild fauna and flora. Was domestication reallynecessary in this case? A third issue is the role of climate change on domestication of both plantsand animals, and human subsistence patterns,given the known shifts from hunting to farmingand back. For the more recent periods, it wouldalso be interesting to assess the impact of the introduction of maize on southern Africansocieties. Some of the major populationshifts triggered by environmental stress andhuman conflict are speculatively linked with theintroduction of maize on the subcontinent(Huffman 2007). The only challenge is thelimited oral histories with direct references tosouthern African hinterland societies that mayprovide crucial testimony to this; otherwise, allthe answers have to come from archaeology. Cross-References ▶ Agriculture: Definition and Overview ▶ East and Southern African Neolithic:Geography and Overview References H UFFMAN , T. N. 1989. Ceramics, settlements and IronAge migrations.  African Archaeological Review  7:155-182.- 2007.  A handbook to the Iron Age: the archaeology of  pre-colonial farming societies in southern Africa .Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.H UFFMAN , T. N. & R. K. H ERBERT . 1994/1995. Newperspectives on Eastern Bantu, in J. E. G. Sutton,(ed.)  The growth of farming communities in Africa from the Equator southwards . Being the proceedingsof the British Institute in Eastern Africa (in associationwith the African Studies Centre of CambridgeUniversity, Newnham College, Cambridge, 4-8 July1994).  Azania  special volume 29-30: 27-36.M ITCHELL , P. 2002.  The archaeology of southern Africa .Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.P HILLIPSON , D. W. 2005.  African archaeology . Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.V ANSINA , J. 1994/1995. A slow revolution: farming insubequatorial Africa, in J. E. G. Sutton (ed.) Thegrowth of farming communities in Africa from theEquator southwards. Being the proceedings of theBritish Institute in Eastern Africa (in association withthe African Studies Centre of Cambridge University,NewnhamCollege,Cambridge,4-8July1994).  Azania special volume 29-30: 15-26.- 1989. Savannah farmers on the sandveldt.  Azania  24:38-50. Further Reading M AGGS , T. & G. W HITELAW . 1991. A review of recentarchaeological research on food-producing communi-ties in southern Africa.  Journal of African History  32:3-24.S ADIR , K. (2013). A short history of herding in southernAfrica, in M. Bollig, J. Pauli & H.-P. Wotzka. (ed.)  Pastoralism in Africa: past, present and futures . NewYork and Oxford: Berghahn Books.V OGEL ,J.O.1986.Microenvironments,swiddenandEarlyIron Age settlement in south-western Zambia.  Azania 21: 85-97. Southern and East African MiddleStone Age: Geography and Culture Sarah WurzInstitute for Human Evolution, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South AfricaDepartment of Archaeology, History, CulturalStudies and Religion, University of Bergen,Bergen, Norway State of Knowledge and Current Debate Introduction The term “Middle Stone Age” was introduced bySouth African pioneer archaeologists Goodwinand van Riet Lowe in 1929 to describe stonetool assemblages technologically distinct fromthose of the Early and Later Stone Age periods.Originally it referred to assemblages in whichconvergent flaking on prepared cores was usedto produce unretouched pointed flakes withfaceted platforms. It is now known that theMiddle Stone Age encompasses a much wider range of technological and typological variabil-ity. The srcinal definition of Middle Stone Agereferred specifically to prepared platforms, buta wide variety of platform types, includingplain, punctiform, dihedral, and laminar platforms, occur. According to Goodwin and S  6890 Southern and East African Middle Stone Age: Geography and Culture  van Riet Lowe, prepared core methodology istypical of the Middle Stone Age. Prepared coresare designed to produce preformed blanks for use with little or no further shaping by retouch.This encompasses as Levallois technology. InLevallois technology the core is conceived of astwo opposing volumes that play different roles inthe production process. End products are onlyremoved from the upper production surface thatis methodically prepared before a limited number of flakes are removed. Repreparation occursbefore the next set of end products can beremoved. The non-production volume is treatedmuch less methodically and plays the role of striking platform only. In both southern andEast Africa, this method is used extensively inconjunction with discoid technology for flakes.Blade technologies also occur in these areas. Inaddition, almost the full inventory of retouchedtool types and artistic practices of the Later StoneAge also occurs in the Middle Stone Age. Thereare so many continuities between the Middle andLater Stone Age that a rigid system in which thetwo entities are opposed and contrasted serveslittle purpose. Such reservations have beenexpressed formally as early as the 1960s ata Burg Wartenstein conference on African pre-history (Barham & Mitchell 2008).Most prehistorians currently use “MiddleStone Age” simply as temporal stage term todescribe sub-Saharan assemblages of the lateMiddle and Late Pleistocene. The mode system,created by Clark in 1969, describes technologicalchange in terms of key innovations independentof temporal association and is preferred by someresearchers. In Clark’s system mode 2 refers tobifacially worked tools such as hand axes andcleavers, mode 3 to flake tools produced fromprepared cores, and mode 4 to punch-struckblades sometimes retouched into various special-ized tool types. Mode 5 assemblages have micro-lithic components of composite artifacts, oftenbacked or retouched. Middle Stone Age occur-rences include mode 2, 3, 4, and 5 elements(Barham & Mitchell 2008). The mode systemdoes unite variously termed industries by a fewcommon technological traits, but it conceals aswide a range of variation as the moreconventional Middle Stone Age designation.The “Middle Stone Age” still has currency asa historical and technological stage division andis used here in conjunction with Clark’s modesystem in spite of its general nature and ambigu-ity. In southern and East Africa, the first typicalMiddle Stone Age (MSA) or mode 3 elementsemerge sometime before the Middle Pleistocene(  430–127 kya). In this early time range, theyappear with late Acheulean mode 2 occurrenceswith large cutting tools (LCTs) such as hand axesand cleavers.In this review the variability in stone tooltechnology from southern and East Africa fromthe Middle and Late Pleistocene is discussed.Thereafter, the focus is on the behavioral debatesand milestones associated with the Middle StoneAge. Southern Africa refers to the area south of the Zambezi and the Kunene which forms anecological, cultural, and archaeological unit(Mitchell 2002). It includes South Africa,Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, southernMozambique, and Swaziland. Most research insouthern Africa has taken place in South Africaperhaps due to a favorable sociopolitical infra-structure. There are a number of exceptionallywell-known sites on the southern Cape coastthat often dominate discussion on the MSA. Toa certain extent, this bias isreflected here, but thisdoes not imply that other southern African areaswere less well populated in the past or were lessimportant. The Middle Stone Age of Zimbabweand Botswana is described using nomenclaturedifferent from that used in South Africa,Namibia, and Lesotho, and this complicatesdrawing regional comparisons. Zimbabwe con-tains many open-air and stratified sites, such asNswatugi Cave, Tshangula Cave, PomongweCave, and Zombepata Cave (Fig. 1). Politicaland economic turmoil impede deeper investiga-tion into the significant potential of Zimbabwe tounderstand regional patterning. In Botswana,Middle Stone Age sites occur, for example, inthe Tsodilo Hills at White Paintings Rockshelter and Rhino Cave, at Drotsky’s Cave, and at #Gi,an open-air site. Swazilandand southern Mozam-bique are not well known for its Middle StoneAge occurrences,butfuture workat,forexample, Southern and East African Middle Stone Age: Geography and Culture 6891  S S  Sibebe shelter in Swaziland and the areas aroundMaputo Bay, Inhaca Island, and Bazaruto IslandinMozambique may bringnewinsights(Mitchell2008, see also Lombard 2012), while the MiddleStone Age from southern Mozambique is largelyunexplored.TheMiddleStoneAgeofEastAfricais reviewed by discussing data from Tanzania,Kenya, and Ethiopia, the most intensivelyresearched areas. Cursory reference is made tokey sites in central African Zambia where thetype sites and very early evidence of characteris-tic Middle Stone Age behaviors occur. A number  Southern and East African Middle Stone Age: Geography and Culture, Fig. 1  Map of sites in southern and EastAfrica mentioned in the text S  6892 Southern and East African Middle Stone Age: Geography and Culture  of syntheses cover the Middle Stone Age of southern and East Africa (e.g., Deacon & Deacon1999;McBrearty&Brooks 2000;Mitchell2002;Willoughby 2007; Barham & Mitchell 2008;Klein 2009), and predominantly new research iscitedhere tocomplementthesedetailed accounts. The Evolutionary and Environmental Contextof the Middle Stone Age The Middle Stone Age is associated with severalhominin types including archaic groups such as  Homo heidelbergensis  and  Homo helmei  and alsowith modern  Homo sapiens.  This period thus sawthe developmentofanatomicallymodernhumansfrom archaic forms. It is not known which of these groups were ancestral to  Homo sapiens  or whether archaic groups survived into the LatePleistocene. Fossils representing premoderngroups in East Africa have been recovered fromIleret (Ileret Footprints) and Eliye Springs inKenya and Ngaloba in Tanzania. The Ngalobafossils are associated with Middle Stone Agetools (McBrearty & Brooks 2000). An archaic  Homo helmei  fossil from Florisbad (ArchaicHomo Sapiens), South Africa, dated to around  260 kya, was found close to Middle StoneAge tools with no particular diagnostic traits(Kuman et al. 1999). The earliest member of   Homo sapiens  may be the Omo I calvarium,from Kamoya’s hominid site (KHS) in the Kibishformation, southern Ethiopia, dating to   195 kya(McDougall et al. 2008) (Homo Sapiens). TheOmo II calvarium was found 2.7 km northwestfrom Omo 1, at Paul’s hominid site. Omo II is of more uncertain phylogenetic affiliation but oftenmentioned as an early modern human. The lithicassemblages at Omo contain Levallois cores andblades,alongwithanovatehandaxe(Shea2008).Four individuals classified as  Homo sapiensidaltu  (White et al. 2003) were found in theHerto member of the Bouri formation, also inEthiopia. They date to between 160 and 154 kyaand are associated with Acheulean and MiddleStone Age tools (Clark et al. 2003). The craniabear intentional modification marks, interpretedas a type of mortuary practice. These early repre-sentatives of modern humans display a mosaic of derived modern and archaic features. There isdebate on precisely which traits constitute ana-tomical modernity and the processes underlyingspeciation of modern human (Schwartz &Tattersall 2010). It is evident that the combina-tion of archaic and more derived features in thepopulations from   200,000 years ago continuedinto the Late Pleistocene. Late Pleistocene  Homosapiens  in East Africa includes fossils from, for example, Aduma, Porc Epic, and Mumba(McBrearty & Brooks 2000). The co-occurrenceof Acheulean and Middle Stone Age elementswith the earliest modern humans indicates thatthere is not a straightforward correlation betweenhominin groups and technological strategies.In southern Africa anatomically modernhuman fossils appear somewhat later than inEast Africa, around   115 kya, and they areinvariablyassociatedwithMiddleStoneAgearti-facts.Theearliestrepresentativesofanatomicallymodern  Homo sapiens  in southern Africa comefrom Klasies River (Klasies River Mouth andRelated Sites, Archaeology of) where a relativelarge collection of cranial and postcranial fossilshas been found (Willoughby 2007). Two maxil-lary fragments that date to   115 ka are the oldesthominins from the site, with the majority of thefossils dating to between   100 and 80 kya.These fossils show signs of cutmarks andburning, consistent with cannibalistic practices(Deacon & Deacon 1999). Border Cave providedanenigmaticcollectionofhumanfossils,with theearliestreliablydatedspecimendatingto  70kya(Barham & Mitchell 2008). Fossils with no par-ticular diagnostic traits, all probably postdating80,000 years ago, occur in the Middle Stone Agelevels at Die Kelders, Hoedjies Punt, EquusCave, Sea Harvest (McBrearty & Brooks 2000),Blombos Cave (Barham & Mitchell 2008), andPinnacle Point (Marean 2010).Molecular genetic data has played a crucialrole in estimating the date of the srcin of   Homosapiens  (DNA and Skeletal Analysis inBioarchaeology and Human Osteology). Investi-gations of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), thenonrecombinant portion of the Y chromosome(NRY) variation, and autosomal DNA haveshown that extant African populations have thehighest levels of genetic variation. This is Southern and East African Middle Stone Age: Geography and Culture 6893  S S  consistent with an African srcin for all modernhumans. It has been calculated that the mostrecent ancestor may have lived between   200and 100 000 years ago (see Sheinfeldt et al.2010 and Klein 2009 for a discussion of thegenetic evidence). The technology to developgenetic sequences and undertake genotypicalanalyses is growing at unparalleled speed andnow also allows genomewide studies. Newresults underline that the genetic processes thatgave rise to current patterns of genetic variationare complex and best explored in combinationwith linguistic and archaeological data(Scheinfeldt et al. 2010). Genetic analyses havealso been used to explore the demographic andgeographic distribution patterns of early MiddleStone Age populations. There are indications thatseveral bottlenecks, where extreme reduction inpopulations and genetic variability is followedby rapid expansion, may have occurred in theevolution of   Homo sapiens.  Global climaticchanges are sometimes discussed as causalmechanisms in such genetic bottlenecks.Middle Stone Age populations from southernand East Africa lived in a range of habitats thatfluctuated in concert with the 100,000 year rhythm of glacial cycles. For the past 450,000years, the extremes between cold and warmperiods became more pronounced and warminterglacials became shorter than in earlier timeperiods. Barham and Mitchell (2008) use theglobal marine isotope record as an overarchingframework to discuss the changing climatic andenvironmental conditions that may haveinfluenced Middle Stone Age lifeways.However,they also note that it is not yet possible to recon-struct the fine-grained environmental changesthat might have affected behavioral responses,as the data from proxies for climate change inthe Middle and Late Pleistocene provide toocoarse a resolution. The analysis of recordsfrom marine and ice cores from the northernhemisphere gives some indication of global cli-matic change whereas the Dome C ice recordfrom Antarctica provides a southern hemisphericrecord of such changes. The range of proxy datasources used for paleoenvironmental reconstruc-tions in southern and East Africa includenon-terrestrial and terrestrial components suchas pollens, inorganic sediments, isotope records,and relict landforms (Environmental Reconstruc-tion in Archaeological Science). Extremeenvironmental events, such as droughts, aresometimes invoked as motors of behavioralchange in the Middle Stone Age. Areas fromsouthern Africa and East Africa are suggested asrefugias where small groups could have survivedin extreme conditions (e.g., Basell 2008; Marean2010). African landscapes are complex, and theglobal climatic records do not necessarily reflectlocal environmental variations. Exploring theeffect of past climate on southern and EastAfrican Middle Stone Age populations requirespaleoclimate and paleoenvironmental data frommultiple regional terrestrial proxies that indicatechanges on a regional scale (Thomas &Burrough 2012). The Middle Stone Age of Southern Africa The transition between the Early and MiddleStone Age in southern Africa is not well under-stood. Middle Stone Age and Acheulean ele-ments are found together in sites as old as500,000 years ago, while Acheulean occurrenceshave been recorded up to   125,000 years ago.The most recent Acheulean industry in southernAfrica, dating to between 125 and 300 kya, maybe from Duinefontein 2 in the Western Cape(Klein2009)(HandaxesandBifaceTechnology).Three transitional entities are known from south-ern Africa – the Sangoan and Lupemban in thenorthern areas and the Fauresmith with a morewidespread regional distribution. Very few of these transitional industries are associated withdates, and they are generally not well defined or documented. At Kalambo Falls, Zambia, initiallyexcavated by J.D. Clark and now investigated byL. Barham, the Sangoan and Lupemban occur instratified context. As one of only a few occur-rences in Africa with stratified mode 2 and 3assemblages, this site plays a central role inunderstanding these transitional industries. AtKalambo Falls the Sangoan, labelled the Chipetaindustry, is typified by core axes, blades, andmany scrapers, the elements characterizing mostSangoan assemblages in Africa. Lupemban S  6894 Southern and East African Middle Stone Age: Geography and Culture
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