Sally McBrearty The revolution that wasn’t: a new
Department of Anthropology, interpretation of the origin of modern
University of Connecticut, human behavior
Storrs, Connecticut 06269,
Proponents of the model known as the ‘‘human revolution’’ claim
that modern human behaviors arose suddenly, and nearly simul-
taneously, throughout the Old World ca. 40–50 ka. This fundamental
Alison S. Brooks behavioral shift is purported to signal a cognitive advance, a possible
Department of Anthropology, reorganization of the brain, and the origin of language. Because the
George Washington earliest modern human fossils, Homo sapiens sensu stricto, are found in
University, Washington, Africa and the adjacent region of the Levant at >100 ka, the ‘‘human
DC 20052, U.S.A. E-mail: revolution’’ model creates a time lag between the appearance of
firstname.lastname@example.org anatomical modernity and perceived behavioral modernity, and
creates the impression that the earliest modern Africans were behav-
Received 3 June 1999 iorally primitive. This view of events stems from a profound Euro-
Revision received 16 June centric bias and a failure to appreciate the depth and breadth of the
2000 and accepted 26 July African archaeological record. In fact, many of the components of
2000 the ‘‘human revolution’’ claimed to appear at 40–50 ka are found in
the African Middle Stone Age tens of thousands of years earlier.
Keywords: Origin of Homo These features include blade and microlithic technology, bone tools,
sapiens, modern behavior, increased geographic range, specialized hunting, the use of aquatic
Middle Stone Age, African resources, long distance trade, systematic processing and use of
archaeology, Middle pigment, and art and decoration. These items do not occur suddenly
Pleistocene. together as predicted by the ‘‘human revolution’’ model, but at sites
that are widely separated in space and time. This suggests a gradual
assembling of the package of modern human behaviors in Africa, and
its later export to other regions of the Old World. The African Middle
and early Late Pleistocene hominid fossil record is fairly continuous
and in it can be recognized a number of probably distinct species that
provide plausible ancestors for H. sapiens. The appearance of Middle
Stone Age technology and the ﬁrst signs of modern behavior coincide
with the appearance of fossils that have been attributed to H. helmei,
suggesting the behavior of H. helmei is distinct from that of earlier
hominid species and quite similar to that of modern people. If on
anatomical and behavioral grounds H. helmei is sunk into H. sapiens,
the origin of our species is linked with the appearance of Middle
Stone Age technology at 250–300 ka.
2000 Academic Press
Journal of Human Evolution (2000) 39, 453–563
Available online at http://www.idealibrary.com on
Introduction and background 2000; Diamond, 1992; Mellars, 1995,
1996; Nobel Davidson, 1991; Tattersall,
The human revolution in Europe 1995; Bar-Yosef, 1998). The ‘‘human
For at least the past 15 years, most recon- revolution’’ model proposes a dramatic
structions of later human evolutionary alteration in human behavior at the Middle
history have featured a relatively brief and Paleolithic to Upper Paleolithic transition at
dramatic shift known as the ‘‘human revol- about 40 ka. This behavioral breakthrough
ution’’ (Binford, 1985, 1989; Mellars is thought by some to correspond to
Stringer, 1989; Klein, 1989a, 1994, 1995, increased cognitive sophistication, the
0047–2484/00/110453+111$35.00/0 2000 Academic Press
454 . . .
manipulation of symbols, and the origin of two great European wars, and the trend
language (e.g., White, 1982; Mellars in archaeology in the second half of the
Stringer, 1989; Diamond, 1992; Byers, twentieth century has been the study of
1994; Mithen, 1994, 1996; Klein, 1995; but local sequences and the application of
see Kay et al., 1998). We believe that the models of cultural evolution (Otte Keeley,
model of the ‘‘human revolution’’ is fatally 1990).
ﬂawed. Modern humans and modern In terms of developments in world pre-
human behaviors arose ﬁrst in Africa, and history, however, Western Europe is a
we examine the African record to reveal a remote cul de sac with a somewhat anom-
diﬀerent picture of the nature of events. alous prehistoric record. We argue here that
The concept of a ‘‘human revolution’’ and models derived from the unique record of
the periodization of Stone Age prehistory European prehistory do not explain events
have their roots in the nineteeth-century in Africa where the origin of modern people
probings of the Western European archaeo- actually occurred. In the Holocene, western
logical record. The ﬁrst paleolithic classiﬁ- Europe experienced a series of incursions
catory schemes were based on the Western from the less peripheral portions of the Old
European large mammal succession (Lartet World. Each arrival of a wave of invaders
Christy, 1865–1875; Lyell, 1868), and and alien technology induced a fairly
these authors emphasized the wide techno- sudden, rapid cultural turnover. These
logical gulf separating the l’age du renne disruptive episodes are reﬂected in the
(Upper Paleolithic) from the earlier phases European archaeological record as dis-
(Lartet Christy, 1865–1875:25). By the continuities that punctuate industrial
1920s the concept of an Upper Paleolithic periods of relatively long duration. They
distinguished by the appearance of engrav- have been sometimes described as ‘‘revol-
ing, sculpture, painting, beads, and worked utions,’’ such as the ‘‘neolithic revolution’’
bone tools had become current. A tripartite of Childe (1936, 1942).
division into Lower, Middle and Upper Recent paleoclimatic data and reﬁned
Paleolithic based upon stone tool technology chronologies have supported the early sug-
(De Mortillet, 1900; Obermeier, 1924; gestion of Howell (1951) that regions of
Burkitt, 1921, 1928, 1933; Kendrick, 1925; Pleistocene Europe were repeatedly isolated
Menghin, 1931) echoed the three-age sys- by ice and mountain barriers, so that its
tems of Thomsen (1837) and Worsaae hominid populations were periodically
(1849) that partitioned the total prehistoric reduced or even eliminated (Howell, 1952;
record into ages of Stone, Bronze, and Iron. Gamble, 1986, 1994; Jochim, 1987;
The Lower, Middle and Upper Paleolithic Hublin, 1998a). Moreover, it has become
divisions of the western European record increasingly clear that the Neanderthals
have continued to dominate discourse in the were replaced by modern humans in Europe
ﬁeld, despite problems in the application of within too short a period for the former to
these divisions to sequences in Eastern and have evolved into the latter (Mellars,
Southern Europe (Morselli, 1926:292). 1998a,b, 1999, Bocquet-Appel Demars,
None of these temporal divisions was 2000). Thus, the ‘‘revolutionary’’ nature of
intended as an evolutionary scheme, but the European Upper Paleolithic is most
rather they were thought to reﬂect repeated probably due to discontinuity in the
invasions by outsiders with new ideas. archaeological record rather than to the sort
Perhaps not surprisingly, a picture of of rapid cultural, cognitive, and/or biological
Europe conquered by invaders with superior transformation that has been argued by
technology had little appeal in the light of proponents of the ‘‘human revolution.’’
The earliest modern Europeans were The fossil evidence for an African origin
Africans for modern humans is robust. It is clear that
modern humans (H. sapiens sensu stricto)
Who were the earliest modern Europeans? It were certainly present in Africa by 130 ka
is becoming increasingly diﬃcult to deny (Day Stringer, 1982; Deacon, 1989), and
that they were Africans. Although the perhaps as early as 190 ka if specimens
‘‘mitochondrial Eve’’ hypothesis, ﬁrst such as Singa are considered modern
articulated by Cann et al. (1987), has been (McDermott et al., 1996; Stringer, 1996).
revised in light of criticism (Templeton, Modern humans do not appear in Europe or
1992; Hedges et al., 1992; Ayala, 1995), and Central Asia before ca. 40 ka; earliest dates
population size and structure have eﬀects on for the Levant range between ca. 80 ka and
the distribution of genetic characters that 120 ka (Day, 1969, 1972; Day Springer,
were not taken into account in early recon- 1982, 1991; Stringer, 1989, 1992;
structions (Harpending et al., 1993, 1998; McBrearty, 1990b; Stringer et al., 1989;
Sherry et al., 1994; Relethford, 1995; Brauer, 1984a,b, 1989; Stringer Andrews,
Relethford Harpending, 1995), genetic 1988; Valladas et al., 1988; Grun ¨
data either directly support or are consistent Stringer, 1991; Miller et al., 1991; Foley
with an African origin for modern humans Lahr, 1992; Mercier et al., 1993; Deacon,
(Wainscoat et al., 1986; Cann, 1988; 1993b; Brooks et al., 1993a,b; Stringer,
Stringer Andrews, 1988; Vigilant et al., 1993a; Schwarcz, 1994; Straus, 1994;
1991; Stoneking, 1993; Stoneking et al., Bar-Yosef, 1994, 1995a, 1998; but see
1993; Relethford Harpending, 1994; Howells, 1989). Recent evidence suggests
Ayala, 1995; Nei, 1995; Goldstein, 1995; that modern humans were present in
Tishkoﬀ et al., 1996; Ruvolo, 1996, 1997; Australia as early as 62 ka (Stringer, 1999;
Irish, 1998; Pfeiﬀer, 1998; Zietkiweicz et al., Thorne et al., 1999).
1997; Pritchard et al., 1999; Quintana- Although some, notably Brauer (1984a,b,
Murci, 1999; Relethford Jorde, 1999; 1989), favor a scenario involving some inter-
Tishkoﬀ et al., 2000; see Relethford, 1998 breeding among Neanderthal and modern
and Jorde et al., 1998 for recent reviews). human populations, the successful extrac-
As Howell (1994:306) observes, ‘‘The tion and analysis of fragmentary mito-
phylogenetic roots of modern humans are chondrial DNA (mtDNA) from both the
demonstrably in the Middle Pleistocene. Neanderthal type fossil (Krings et al., 1997,
The distribution of those antecedent 1999) and additional material from the
populations appear to lie outside of western northern Caucasus (Ovchinnikov et al.,
and eastern Eurasia, and more probably 2000) appears to remove the Neanderthals
centered broadly on Africa.’’1 from modern human ancestry. Body propor-
tions of early European H. sapiens fossils
1. The Middle to Late Pleistocene boundary is the suggest a tropical adaptation and support an
beginning of the last interglacial, at approximately African origin (Holliday Trinkaus, 1991;
130 ka; the base of the Middle Pleistocene is the shift
from reversed to normal magnetic polarity at the Ruﬀ, 1994; Pearson, 1997, 2000; Holliday,
Matuyama–Brunhes boundary, dated to about 780 ka 1997, 1998, 2000). A single migration or
(Butzer Isaac, 1975; Imbrie Imbrie, 1980; Berger population bottleneck was originally envis-
et al., 1984; Martinson et al., 1987; Shackleton et al.,
1990; Deino Potts, 1990; Cande Kent, 1992; aged in the ‘‘African Eve hypothesis’’ (Cann
Baksi et al., 1992; Tauxe et al., 1992). Further evidence et al., 1987), but a succession of population
may conﬁrm recent suggestions (Schneider et al., 1992; dispersals, subsequent isolation induced by
Singer Pringle, 1996; Hou et al., 2000) that the age
of this geomagnetic polarity reversal be revised to climatic events and local adaptation may
ca. 790 ka. better account for the complexity of the
456 . . .
fossil record and the genetic composition of rather than by genetic processes, the most
present human populations (Howells, 1976, likely scenario would be an accretionary
1989, 1993; Boaz et al., 1982; Foley Lahr, process, a gradual accumulation of modern
1992; Lahr Foley, 1994, 1998; Ambrose, behaviors in the African archaeological
1998b). record (cf. Allsworth-Jones, 1993). This
It can be deduced from the archaeological change need not be unidirectional or con-
evidence that on a continent-wide scale the ﬁned to a single location. Rather, we might
African record diﬀers markedly from that expect innovative behaviors to appear at
of Europe in its degree of population con- diﬀerent times and in diﬀerent regions, and
tinuity. While parts of Africa, such as the due to low population densities we might
Sahara or the interior of the Cape Province expect the transmission of new ideas to be
of South Africa, do appear to have experi- sporadic.
enced interruptions in human settle- As early as the 1920s it was clear that the
ment during glacial maxima (Deacon African archaeological record could not be
Thackeray, 1984; Williams, 1984; Butzer, accommodated within the European Paleo-
1988b; Brooks Robertshaw, 1990; lithic model. A separate scheme of Earlier,
Mitchell, 1990), climatic reconstructions Middle and Later Stone Ages (ESA, MSA,
suggest that the contiguous expanse of and LSA) was devised for Stone Age Africa
steppe, savanna and woodland biomes avail- (Goodwin van Riet Lowe, 1929) to
able for human occupation, especially in the emphasize its distinctiveness from the
tropical regions of the continent, was always Lower, Middle, and Upper Paleolithic of
substantially larger than the comparable Europe. The ESA, MSA and LSA were ﬁrst
regions in Europe. Perhaps as a result, deﬁned on technological grounds on the
hominid populations in Africa, while prob- basis of material from South Africa
ably widely dispersed, appear to have (Goodwin, 1928; Goodwin van Riet
been consistently larger (Relethford Lowe, 1929). The terms were formally
Harpending, 1995; Jorde et al., 1998; endorsed by the Panafrican Congress of
Relethford Jorde, 1999; Tishkoﬀ et al., 1955 (Clark, 1957a: xxxiii). The ESA as it is
2000). now understood includes both the Oldowan
and the Acheulian; the MSA encompasses
ﬂake and blade tool industries which often
Revolution or evolution? The African
include prepared cores and points; and the
LSA is characterized by microlithic tech-
How might the archaeological signature of nology. The MSA was distinguished by the
continuous evolutionary change be expected presence of prepared core technology and,
to diﬀer from that of abrupt replacement? If at most sites, unifacial and/or bifacial projec-
the entire human species experienced a sim- tile points, and by the absence of handaxes
ultaneous, punctuated, genetically encoded and microliths, hallmarks of the Acheulian
event, such as the development of modern and LSA respectively.
capacities for language (Klein, 1995; Before 1972, in the absence of accurate
Diamond, 1992), one would expect the chronometric dates, a radiocarbon date of
transition to modern human behavior to be 60 ka from Acheulian levels at Kalambo
abrupt, in Africa as well as in Europe and Falls, Zambia (Clark, 1969) was not
Asia. On the other hand, if aspects of recognized as inﬁnite. This frequently cited
modern human culture in Africa were devel- date was particularly inﬂuential in establish-
oped by hominids using existing cognitive ing the impression of a short chronology
capabilities and transmitted by cultural for Africa. The MSA, at 60 ka, was
considered the temporal equivalent of the quently retired (Bishop Clark, 1967:
Upper Paleolithic of Europe. Therefore the 987), when a mixture of diﬀerent occu-
discovery of anatomically modern human pation levels was found to have occurred
remains associated with MSA artefacts at during excavation at the ‘‘Second Inter-
the South African sites of Border Cave mediate’’ type site of Magosi (Wayland
and Klasies River occasioned no surprise.2 Burkitt, 1932; Clark, 1957b; Hole, 1959;
The degree of regional diﬀerentiation, the Cole, 1967). Yet anachronisms, as well as
ubiquitous presence of blades and blade long periods of transition between stages,
cores, and the sophistication of projectile remain as problems (Vishnyatsky, 1994).
point technology in the African MSA were A fairly abrupt MSA–LSA transition is
considered comparable to the European apparent in the Mediterranean zones at the
Upper Paleolithic. However, bone tools, art northern and southern margins of Africa.
objects and beads were sparse when com- This seems consistent with the signiﬁcant
pared to the European Upper Paleolithic, documented gaps in the settlement history
particularly the late Upper Paleolithic. of both regions (Close et al., 1990; Wendorf
The rarity of elements regarded as critical et al., 1990, 1993a; Mitchell, 1990; Deacon
to modern human culture in the MSA Thackeray, 1984; Klein, 1989b: 307).
served as grounds for regarding Africa as a However, at rock shelter sites in tropical
‘‘cultural backwater,’’ the place that initially Africa with relatively continuous occu-
gave rise to humanity, but failed to nurture pational records, such as Mumba, Tanzania
its later development (e.g., Butzer, 1971; (Mehlman, 1979, 1989), Matupi, D. R.
cf. Clark, 1975). In the later 1970s, new Congo (van Noten, 1977) and White
dating techniques and more accurate Paintings, Botswana (Robbins Murphy,
climatic correlations pushed back the age of 1998; Robbins et al., under review) there is a
the MSA well beyond 100 ka. The MSA was gradual transition from MSA to LSA tech-
recognized as the temporal equivalent of the nology over as much as 30 ka. Mehlman
European Middle Paleolithic, not the Upper (1991) has urged the development of new
Paleolithic. Attention focused on the human paradigms to accommodate the lack of a
fossils associated with the MSA, which were punctuated event.
now thought to be anomalously modern Because of the late, sudden, and nearly
in appearance. The fact that many MSA simultaneous appearance in Europe of mod-
artefacts recalled the Upper Paleolithic of ern humans and complex behavior, archae-
Europe in both form and technology was ologists working in Africa have sought a
forgotten. similar ‘‘human revolution’’ there. The fully
The use of a classifactory scheme developed signature of modern human
designed for Africa did not entirely remove behavior, including planning, sophisticated
ambiguity, as many industries displayed technology and resource use, and symbolic
characteristics of two diﬀerent stages and behavior in the form of decorative art is
could not be assigned to one of the three clearly present in the African LSA. As a re-
divisions. Long transitional periods or sult, the MSA–LSA transition has been con-
‘‘Intermediates’’ were added to the tripartite ﬂated with the Middle to Upper Paleolithic
ESA–MSA–LSA scheme at the 1955 and the emergence of modern human behav-
Panafrican Congress (Clark, 1957a: xxxiii), ior. Consequently the earliest anatomically
but the ‘‘Intermediate’’ concept was subse- modern humans, which occur in MSA con-
texts, are not accepted as fully ‘‘human’’.
2. The name Klasies River rather than Klasies River
Mouth or KRM is adopted here to conform with the We suggest that the expectation of a
recent usage of Hilary Deacon and his team. ‘‘human revolution’’ in Africa is ultimately
458 . . .
a misapplication of a European model. the genus Homo when compared to the more
Further, we reject the idea of a time lag derived state in the Neanderthals (Rak,
between anatomical and behavioral change 1993).
in Africa, such as that proposed by Klein Specimens formerly attributed to
(1992, 1994, 1995, 1998). There was no ‘‘archaic’’ H. sapiens exhibit a number of
‘‘human revolution’’ in Africa. Rather, in plesiomorphic traits, including long low
this paper we present data from the human crania, large brow ridges, large, prognathic
fossil and archaeological records to show faces with large teeth, and the lack of a chin.
that novel features accrued stepwise. The chief justiﬁcation for the inclusion of
Distinct elements of the social, economic, these fossils in our species has been their
and subsistence bases changed at diﬀerent large brain sizes, though brain size is in part
rates and appeared at diﬀerent times and a function of body mass, known to be quite
places. We describe evidence from the large among these hominids (Grine et al.,
African MSA to support the contention that 1995; Ruﬀ et al., 1997; Kappelman, 1997).
both human anatomy and human behavior Recent discussions of later hominid phy-
were intermittently transformed from an logeny (e.g., Stringer, 1993b, 1994, 1995,
archaic to a more modern pattern over a 1996; Lahr Foley, 1994; Foley Lahr,
period of more than 200,000 years. 1997; Rightmire, 1998) have recognized the
distinctiveness of non-Neanderthal Middle
Pleistocene hominids and have resurrected
The hominid fossil record
the taxon H. heidelbergensis Schoetensack,
Until recently, most reconstructions of later 1908 for them, but we question the
human phylogeny recognized only one attribution of the African material to this
species after H. erectus. Grade-based taxon.
schemes commonly divided H. sapiens into Paradoxically, H. sapiens Linnaeus, 1758
two variants, ‘‘archaic’’ H. sapiens and ‘‘ana- lacks a satisfactory deﬁnition. Howell (1978:
tomically modern’’ H. sapiens (H. sapiens 201) observed over 20 years ago,
sensu stricto). The Neanderthals were then
‘‘The extensive relevant literature reveals an
sometimes distinguished from other unexpected lack of concern with the bio-
‘‘archaic’’ H. sapiens at the subspeciﬁc logical distinctiveness of a now-dominant
level as H. sapiens neanderthalensis (e.g., mammalian species’’,
Campbell, 1964). We concur with such and the situation is virtually unchanged
authors as Tattersall (1986, 1992), Kimbel today. The anatomy of H. sapiens is charac-
(1991), Harrison (1993), Rak (1993) and terized by a high round cranium, a chin, a
Stringer (1994, 1996) that there are grounds small orthognathic face, as well as reduced
for distinguishing ‘‘archaic’’ from ‘‘modern’’ masticatory apparatus and brow ridges. It
H. sapiens at the species level, and thus has been argued that most of these features
we regard the appearance of ‘‘modern’’ H. can be explained by greater ﬂexion in the
sapiens as a speciation event. Here, we treat basicranium of H. sapiens (Lieberman,
the Neanderthals as the distinct species H. 1998b; Spoor et al., 1999).
neandertalensis King, 1864, and use the Because early fossils of H. sapiens dating
name H. sapiens to refer only to H. sapiens to 130 ka, and perhaps as early as 190 ka,
senus stricto. The use of the ‘‘anatomically are found in Africa (Grun et al., 1990;
modern’’ label for H. sapiens sensu stricto is Deacon, 1989, 1993b; Day Stringer,
not only unnecessary but also misleading, as 1982; McDermott et al., 1996), it is reason-
many of the cranial features used to dis- able to seek evidence for the processes lead-
tinguish H. sapiens are in fact primitive for ing to the origin of H. sapiens in the African
record of the Middle Pleistocene (Howell, works (Brauer, 1984a,b, 1989; Smith, 1985,
1994). Although often described as 1993; Clark, 1988; Klein, 1989b, 1994;
‘‘scrappy’’ or insubstantial, the African Stringer, 1993a). Data in Table 1 roughly
hominid fossil sample from this time period follow Day’s tripartite construct, though this
numbers several dozen individuals (Table 1, should not be construed as an endorsement
Figure 1). While the circumstances of for anagenesis or a grade-based taxonomy.
recovery for some of the specimens are far Both the ascription of fossils to group and
from ideal, this is unfortunately true for the attachment of taxonomic labels are
many fossil discoveries, and in fact a fair problematic, and Group 1 specimens
number of the African specimens were probably belong to several diﬀerent species
recovered by controlled excavation (e.g., (e.g., H. louisleakeyi, H. rhodesiensis).
Ndutu, Cave of Hearths, Haua Fteah, The principal unresolved issue in the
Mumba, Ngaloba, Klasies, Kapthurin post- clariﬁcation of the evolutionary relationships
cranials). For others, stratigraphic context of the hominids in Group 1 is the enigmatic
can be reasonably inferred, despite the fact status of H. erectus. This species is believed
that they are surface ﬁnds (e.g., Kapthurin by many to have been conﬁned to Asia
mandibles, Eyasi, Buia). (Andrews, 1984; Tattersall, 1986; Groves,
Howell (1994: 305f) has deemed the sol- 1989; Clarke, 1990; Kimbel, 1991; Larick
ution of the evolutionary relationships Ciochon, 1996). Following Wood (1991,
among later Middle Pleistocene hominid 1992), some now ascribe to H. ergaster
populations one of the central problems in African fossils in the 1·5–2 Ma age range
the study of human evolution, and the taxo- formerly attributed to H. erectus. Other
nomic status of the African fossils is much authors (e.g., Rightmire, 1990, 1994, 1995,
debated (e.g., Tattersall, 1986; Clarke, 1998; Brauer Mbua, 1992; Harrison,
1990; Foley, 1991a; Kimbel, 1991; 1993; Walker, 1993; Brauer, 1994) regard
Stringer, 1992, 1993a, 1994, 1996; Aiello, H. erectus as a single polytypic species dis-
1993; Foley Lahr, 1997; Lahr Foley, tributed throughout most of the Old World,
1998; Rightmire, 1998). Revision of fossils and African specimens in our Group 1,
ascribed to Homo (Wood, 1991, 1992; spanning a broad range of time, continue
Wood Collard, 1999) has resulted in a to be ascribed to this taxon (e.g., OH9,
more ‘‘bushy’’ or speciose taxonomic Kapthurin, in Wood, 1992). Attribution of
picture for our genus in the Pliocene and the African and Asian Middle Pleistocene
Early Pleistocene, but for the African material to a single species assumes an
Middle and Late Pleistocene a unilineal adequate degree of gene ﬂow to prevent
model is often invoked. It is our belief that speciation, but the archaeological diﬀer-
the number of African Middle and Late ences between the regions suggest long term
Pleistocene hominid species has been under- isolation (Schick, 1994; but see Hou et al.,
estimated, because behavioral and repro- 2000).
ductive isolation may precede changes in the Group 1 in our scheme includes the
bony skeleton (Tattersall, 1986, 1992, Kabwe (Broken Hill) cranium, type speci-
1993; Rak, 1993). men of H. rhodesiensis Woodward, 1921, as
Over 25 years ago, Day (1973) suggested well as OH9. The latter specimen is usually
separating African Middle and Late referred in the literature to H. erectus, but
Pleistocene hominids into ‘‘early,’’ ‘‘inter- Louis Leakey (1961, 1963) emphatically
mediate,’’ and ‘‘modern’’ groups, and this rejected this position. He saw the origin of
grade-based practice has been followed, H. sapiens as a strictly African phenom-
explicitly and implicitly, in many subsequent enon, and regarded OH9 as morphologically
Table 1 Later African Hominidae, their archaeological associations and dates
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Group 1 (H. erectus, H. ergaster, H. louisleakeyi, H. rhodesiensis)
¨ Left femoral shaft Acheulian Early Middle Associated fauna Hublin, 1992;
(El Hajeb), Morocco Pleistocene Geraads et al., 1992
Berg Aukas, Namibia Femoral fragment None Undated Grine et al., 1995
Bodo, Ethiopia Adult cranium, Acheulian Mid to later Middle Associated fauna Conroy et al., 1978;
parietal, distal humerus Pleistocene, 350 ka Kalb et al., 1980, 1982a,b;
Asfaw, 1983; Clark et al.,
1984; Rightmire, 1996
cf. Oldowan 640 ka–550 ka Ar/39Ar, associated Clark et al., 1994
Buia, Danakil (Afar) Adult cranium, 2 None reported 1·0 Ma Paleomagnetism, Abbate et al., 1998
Depression, Eritrea incisors, pelvic associated fauna
Cave of Hearths, Mandible, radius Acheulian Early Late Associated fauna Cooke, 1962; Mason, 1962;
. . .
South Africa Pleistocene Mason et al., 1988; Tobias,
1971; Partridge, 1982;
Pearson Grine, 1997
End Middle Associated fauna Howell, 1978
Eyasi, Tanzania Cranial fragments Sangoan 130 ka Extrapolation from Cooke, 1963; Mehlman,
representing 3–4 overlying 14C dates, 1984, 1987
individuals underlying 230Th/234U
Table 1, Group 1 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Kabwe (Broken Hill), Adult cranium (E686), ?Sangoan or MSA? 125 ka Associated fauna Woodward, 1921; Pycraft
Zambia (holotype of cranial, maxillary et al., 1928; Oakley, 1957;
H. rhodesiensis) dental and postcranial Clark, 1959; Clark et al.,
(humeral, pelvic, 1950, 1968; Klein, 1973,
femoral, tibial) remains 1994; Santa Luca, 1978;
of d3 individuals Partridge, 1982; Vrba,
1982; Stringer, 1986
110 ka Aspartic acid Bada et al., 1974
fragment EM 793
700–400 ka Associated fauna (cf. Klein, 1994; Rightmire,
Olduvai Beds III–IV) 1998
780 ka–1·33 Ma Associated fauna (cf. This paper, based upon
Olduvai Beds III–IV). Klein, 1973, 1994;
Correlation of top of Partridge, 1982; Hay, 1976;
Bed IV with Matuyama Walter et al., 1991, 1992;
Brunhes boundary Tamrat et al., 1995;
Kimbel, 1995; Delson
van Couvering, 2000
1·07–1·33 Ma Associated fauna (cf. This paper, based upon
Olduvai Beds III–IV). Klein, 1973, 1994;
Correlation of normal Partridge, 1982; Hay, 1976;
polarity paleomagnetic Walter et al., 1991, 1992;
zone at base of Masek Tamrat et al., 1995;
Beds with Jaramillo Kimbel, 1995; Delson
subchron van Couvering, 2000
Table 1, Group 1 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Kapthurin (Baringo) Two adult mandibles, Undiagnostic 230–780 ka K/Ar, associated fauna, Leakey et al., 1969; van
Kenya (KNM-BK 67, 8518) paleomagnetism Noten, 1982; Howell, 1982;
postcranials (ulna, van Noten Wood, 1985;
talus, manus phalanges, Wood van Noten, 1986;
KNM-BK 63–66) Tallon, 1978; Dagley et al.,
1978; Rightmire, 1980;
Solan Day, 1992; Wood,
1992; Groves, 1998
500–550 ka Deino McBrearty, under
Kebibat (Rabat), Subadult calvaria, None 200 ka Th/234U Stearns Thurber, 1965
Morocco maxillary fragment,
300 ka–1·0 Ma Associated fauna Saban, 1975, 1977; Howell,
1978; Sausse, 1975b
Lainyamok, Kenya Femoral shaft, isolated Undiagnostic 390–330 ka Ar/39Ar Shipman et al., 1983; Potts
teeth et al., 1988; Potts Deino,
. . .
Loyangalani Maxillary and None Late Middle/Early Associated fauna Twiesselmann, 1991
mandibular dentition Late Pleistocene
Melka Konture, Cranial fragments Acheulian Middle Pleistocene Associated fauna Chavaillon et al., 1974;
Ethiopia Howell, 1978; Chavaillon,
Ndutu, Tanzania Adult cranium cf. Acheulian 500–600 ka AAR on associated Mturi, 1976; Rightmire,
mammalian bone 1980, 1983; Clarke, 1976,
Table 1, Group 1 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Ndutu, Tanzania 490–780 ka Upper limit: correlation This paper, based upon
continued of reversed polarity Tamrat et al., 1995
excursion in underlying
Norkilili Member of
Masek Beds with
Lower limit: correlation
of top of Bed IV with
370–990 ka Upper limit: 40Ar/39Ar This paper, based upon
on Kerimasi caldera, Hay, 1976, 1990; Leakey
probable source of et al., 1972; Leakey Hay,
Norkilili Member of 1982; Clarke, 1976, 1990;
Masek Beds. Lower Manega, 1993; Tamrat
limit: correlation of et al., 1995; Walter et al.,
normal polarity 1991, 1992; Kimbel, 1995
paleomagnetic zone at
base of Masek Beds
OH 9, LLK, Olduvai Adult partial cranium Developed Oldowan or 1·15 Ma (surface, top K/Ar, paleomagnetism Hay, 1963, 1973, 1976,
Gorge, Tanzania Acheulian of Bed II) 1990; Leakey, 1961, 1963;
(type of H. Leakey, 1971a,b; Leakey
louisleakeyi) Hay, 1982; Rightmire,
1979a, 1980, 1990, 1994;
0·7–1·0 Ma K/Ar, paleomagnetism Hay, 1971
1·33–1·48 Ma Ar/39Ar, Hay, 1976, 1990; Manega,
paleomagnetism 1993; Tamrat et al., 1995;
Walter et al., 1991, 1992;
Kimbel, 1995; White, 2000
Table 1, Group 1 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
OH 11, DK, Olduvai Palate, maxilla None; both ca. 400 ka (surface, K/Ar, paleomagnetism Rightmire, 1979a; Leakey
Gorge, Tanzania Acheulian MSA probably lower Ndutu inferred sedimentation Hay, 1982; Hay, 1994
elsewhere in Ndutu Beds) rates
ca. 490 ka Paleomagnetism; This paper, based upon
correlation of reversed Tamrat et al., 1995
polarity excursion in
Member of Masek
Beds with Emperor
ca. 370 ka Ar/39Ar on Kerimasi Hay, 1976, 1990; Manega,
caldera, probable 1993; Tamrat et al., 1995;
source of Norkilili Walter et al., 1991, 1992;
Member of Masek Kimbel, 1995; White, 2000;
Beds. Delson van Couvering,
OH 12, VEK, Olduvai Palate, maxilla, cranial None; Acheulian 780–620 ka (upper Bed K/Ar, paleomagnetism, Rightmire, 1979a; Leakey
Gorge, Tanzania fragments elsewhere in Bed IV IV) inferred sedimentation Hay, 1982; Hay, 1994;
rates Leakey Roe, 1994
. . .
780 ka–1·2 Ma Paleomagnetism; This paper, based upon
correlation of top of Tamrat et al., 1995
Bed IV with Matuyama
1·07–1·2 Ma Ar/39Ar Hay, 1976, 1990; Manega,
paleomagnetism; 1993; Tamrat et al., 1995;
correlation of normal Walter et al., 1991, 1992;
polarity paleomagnetic Kimbel, 1995; White, 2000;
zone at base of Masek Delson van Couvering,
Beds with Jaramillo 2000
Table 1, Group 1 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
OH 22, VEK/MNK, Partial mandible None; Acheulian 800–600 ka (surface, K/Ar, paleomagnetism, Day, 1986; Leakey Hay,
Olduvai Gorge, elsewhere in Bed IV Bed IV) inferred sedimentation 1982; Leakey Roe, 1994;
Tanzania and overlying Ndutu rates Rightmire, 1979a, 1990;
Beds Hay, 1994
780 ka–1·2 Ma Paleomagnetism; This paper, based upon
correlation of top of Tamrat et al., 1995
Bed IV with Matuyama
1·07–1·2 Ma Ar/39Ar, Hay, 1976, 1990; Manega,
paleomagnetism; 1993; Tamrat et al., 1995;
correlation of normal Walter et al., 1991, 1992;
polarity paleomagnetic Kimbel, 1995; White, 2000;
zone at base of Masek Delson van Couvering,
Beds with Jaramillo 2000
OH 23, FLK, Olduvai Mandibular fragment Acheulian 400–600 ka (In situ, K/Ar, paleomagnetism, Day, 1986; Rightmire,
Gorge, Tanzania Masek Beds) inferred sedimentation 1990; Leakey Roe, 1994;
rates Hay, 1994
490–780 ka Paleomagnetism. This paper, based upon
Upper limit: correlation Tamrat et al., 1995
of reversed polarity
excursion in underlying
Norkilili Member of
Masek Beds with
Lower limit: correlation
of top of Bed IV with
Table 1, Group 1 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
OH 23, continued 990–370 ka Upper limit: 40Ar/39Ar Hay, 1976, 1990; Manega
on Kerimasi caldera, 1993; Tamrat et al., 1995;
probable source of Walter et al., 1991, 1992;
Norkilili Member of Kimbel, 1995; White, 2000;
Masek Beds. Lower Delson van Couvering,
limit: correlation of 2000
paleomagnetic zone at
base of Masek Beds
OH 28, WK, Olduvai Left innominate, femur Acheulian 780–620 ka (upper Bed K/Ar, paleomagnetism, Day, 1971, 1986; Leakey,
Gorge, Tanzania IV) inferred sedimentation 1971a; Rightmire, 1979a;
rates Leakey Hay, 1982; Hay,
780 ka–1·2 Ma Paleomagnetism; This paper, based upon
correlation of top of Tamrat et al., 1995
Bed IV with Matuyama
1·2–1·07 Ma Ar/39Ar, Hay, 1976, 1990; Manega,
paleomagnetism; 1993; Tamrat et al., 1995;
. . .
correlation of normal Walter et al., 1991, 1992;
polarity paleomagnetic Kimbel, 1995; White, 2000;
zone at base of Masek Delson van Couvering,
Beds with Jaramillo 2000
OH 34, JK, Olduvai Femur and partial tibia Acheulian 0·8–1·1 Ma (Bed III) K/Ar, paleomagnetism Day, 1971; Leakey Roe,
Gorge, Tanzania 1994; Hay, 1990, 1994
1·2–1·33 Ma Ar/39Ar, This paper, based upon
paleomagnetism Hay, 1976, 1990; Tamrat
et al., 1995; Walter et al.,
1991, 1992; Kimbel, 1995;
Table 1, Group 1 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
OH 51, GTC, Mandibular fragment None; Acheulian 0·8–1·1 Ma (Bed III) K/Ar, paleomagnetism Leakey Roe, 1994;
Olduvai Gorge, elsewhere in Bed III Rightmire, 1990; Hay,
Tanzania 1990, 1994
1·2–1·33 Ma Ar/39Ar, This paper, based upon
paleomagnetism Hay, 1976, 1990; Tamrat
et al., 1995; Walter et al.,
1991, 1992; Kimbel, 1995;
Saldanha (Hopeﬁeld Adult calvaria, Acheulian ca. 130–780 ka (Middle Associated fauna Drennan, 1953; Singer,
Elandsfontein), South mandibular fragment Pleistocene) 1954; Cooke, 1963;
Africa Partridge, 1982; Deacon,
600–800 ka Associated fauna, cf Klein, 1973; Singer
Bed IV Olduvai Gorge Wymer, 1968; Leakey
Hay, 1982; Hay, 1994;
Leakey Roe, 1994
500–200 ka Associated fauna Klein, 1988
700–400 ka Associated fauna Klein Cruz-Uribe, 1991;
Klein, 1994; Rightmire,
780 ka–1·2 Ma Associated fauna (cf This paper, based upon
Olduvai Bed IV). Gentry, 1978; Klein Cruz
Correlation of top of Uribe, 1991; White, 2000;
Bed IV with Matuyama Tamrat et al., 1995; Walter
Brunhes boundary et al., 1991, 1992; Kimbel,
Table 1, Group 1 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Saldanha, continued 1·07–1·33 Associated fauna (cf This paper, based upon
Olduvai Bed IV). Gentry, 1978; Klein Cruz
Correlation of normal Uribe, 1991; White, 1999;
polarity paleomagnetic Tamrat et al., 1995; Walter
zone at base of Masek et al., 1991, 1992; Kimbel,
Beds with Jaramillo 1995
Sale, Morocco Adult calvaria, cranial None 300 ka–1·0 Ma Associated fauna Jaeger, 1973, 1975; Howell,
fragments, endocast 1978; Hublin, 1985, 1991,
1994; Dean et al., 1993
389–455 ka LU ESR on associated Hublin, 1991
bovid tooth enamel
Sidi Abderrahman Partial mandible Acheulian Middle Pleistocene Geomorphology, Arambourg Biberson,
(Casablanca) Morocco (‘‘Tensiftian’’=‘‘Riss’’) associated fauna 1956; Biberson, 1963;
Howell, 1960, 1978
Tighenif (formerly Three mandibles, Acheulian Middle Pleistocene Associated fauna Arambourg, 1955;
Terniﬁne), Oran, parietal fragment Arambourg Hoﬀsteter,
Algeria 1963; Howell, 1960, 1978;
Balout et al., 1967; Tobias,
. . .
0·6–1·0 Ma Associated fauna Geraads, 1981; Jaeger, 1981
700 ka Associated fauna, Geraads et al., 1986
Thomas 1 Quarry, Subadult partial None Middle Pleistocene Associated fauna, Ennouchi, 1969a, 1970;
Morocco mandible, cranial and (‘‘Amirian’’) geomorphology Sausse, 1975b; Oakley et al.,
maxillary fragments 1977; Howell, 1960, 1978;
Brauer, 1984a,b; Dean
et al., 1993
Table 1, Group 1 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Wadi Dagadle, Maxilla, partial None 250 ka TL on basalt, de Bonis et al., 1984, 1988
Djibouti dentition associated fauna
Group 2 (H. helmei or H. sapiens)
Eliye Springs, West Adult cranium None None Surface ﬁnd Brauer Leakey, 1986
Turkana, Kenya ES11693
Florisbad, South Adult cranium ?MSA? Inﬁnite AAR, C Vogel Beaumont, 1972;
Africa Bada et al., 1973
100 ka Th/234U, peat I, Dreyer, 1935, 1936;
associated fauna Rightmire, 1978a; Clarke,
1985; Kuman Clarke,
1986; Brink, 1988; Butzer,
1988a; Kuman et al., 2000
260 ka ESR, direct assay on Grun et al., 1996
Guomde, Chari Fm, Adult cranium None 270–300 ka U-series, direct assays Brauer et al., 1992, 1997;
Ileret, Kenya (KNM-ER 3884), on hominid cranium Feibel et al., 1989
femur (KNM-ER 999) femur
Haua Fteah, Libya Two young adult MSA (‘‘Levalloiso- Inﬁnite C on burnt bone McBurney, 1961, 1967;
mandibular fragments Mousterian’’) Tobias, 1967; Rak,
130 Associated artefacts This paper, based upon
(Generalized MSA is Debenath, 1994; Wendorf
stratiﬁed under Aterian et al., 1987, 1993a
elsewhere in Sahara)
Table 1, Group 2 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Haua Fteah, Libya 90 ka Associated artefacts. This paper, based upon
continued TL OSL reported Martini et al., 1996;
for in situ Aterian Cremaschi et al., 1998
material in Libya;
generalized MSA is
stratiﬁed under Aterian
elsewhere in Sahara
127–40 ka Associated artefacts Klein, 1999
Jebel Irhoud, Adult cranium (JI1), MSA (‘‘Levalloiso- Inﬁnite C Ennouchi, 1966
Morocco adult calvaria (JI2), Mousterian’’)
infant mandible (JI3),
90–125 ka (EU), 105 Extrapolation from Ennouchi, 1962, 1963,
190 ka (LU) ESR dates on 1968, 1969a,b; Howell,
mammalian teeth 1978; Hublin, 1985, 1991,
overlying in situ 1993; Hublin et al., 1987;
hominid specimen JI4 Grun Stringer, 1991
. . .
Mugharet el Aiya, Juvenile maxillary MSA, presumed Late Middle/Early Associated fauna Biberson, 1961, 1963;
Morocco fragment with partial Aterian (not in situ) Late Pleistocene Debenath, 1980; Debenath
dentition, adult tooth (‘‘Ouljian-Soltanian’’) et al., 1982, 1986; Amani
Geraads, 1993; Hublin,
60–90 ka Associated Aterian This paper, based upon
artifacts; TL OSL Debenath, 1994; Martini
reported for in situ et al., 1996; Cremaschi
Aterian material in et al., 1998
Table 1, Group 2 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Ngaloba (Laetoli Adult cranium MSA 120 ka Correlation with Hay, 1976; Leakey Hay,
Hominid 18) marker tuﬀ in Lower 1982; Magori Day, 1983;
Tanzania Ndutu Beds at Olduvai Day et al., 1980
Gorge bracketed by
C K/Ar dates
130–108 ka Th/234U on Hay, 1987
100–200 ka Isoleucine Bada, 1987
200 ka AAR on ostrich Manega, 1995
with units dated by
200–370 ka Ar/39Ar, on Kerimasi This paper, based on Hay,
caldera, probable 1976, 1990; Manega, 1993;
source of Norkilili Tamra et al., 1995; Walter
Member of Masek et al., 1991, 1992; Kimbel,
200–490 ka Ar/39Ar, This paper, based on Hay,
paleomagnetism; 1976, 1990; Manega, 1993;
correlation of reversed Tamrat et al., 1995; Walter
polarity excursion in et al., 1991, 1992; Kimbel,
underlying Norkilili 1995; Delson van
Member of Masek Couvering, 2000
Beds with Emperor
Table 1, Group 2 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Omo II, Site PHS, Adult calvaria ?MSA? 39 ka C on Etheria shell in Day, 1969, 1972; Butzer,
Kibish Formation, overyling unit 1969; Butzer et al., 1969;
Ethiopia Merrick et al., 1973; Day
130 ka Th/234U on Etheria Day, 1969, 1972; Butzer,
shell in overlying unit 1969; Butzer et al., 1969;
Merrick et al., 1973; Day
Stringer, 1982, 1991
Porc Epic (Dire
u Mandibular fragment MSA Late Pleistocene Associated fauna Breuil et al., 1951; Vallois,
Dawa), Ethiopia 1951; Clark, 1954, 1982;
Brauer, 1984a; Howell,
60–77 ka Obsidian hydration Clark et al., 1984; Clark,
Singa, Sudan Calvaria ?MSA? Early Late Pleistocene Associated fauna Bate, 1951; Stringer, 1979;
Brauer, 1984a,b; Stringer
. . .
et al., 1985; Clark, 1988
82–112 (EU), 133–187 ESR on associated Grun Stringer, 1991
(LU) mammalian teeth
190–130 ka U-series on calcrete McDermot et al., 1996
enclosing skull and
Table 1 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Group 3 (H. sapiens)
Border Cave, South Adult calvaria (BC1), 2 MSA 90–115 ka Geomorphology, Cooke et al., 1945; Wells,
Africa adult mandibles (BC 2 associated fauna, 1950, 1959; de Villiers,
5), infant partial extrapolation from 1973, 1978; Protsch, 1975;
skeleton (BC3), adult overlying 14C dates, Beaumont et al., 1978;
postcranial fragments amino acid racimzation Butzer et al., 1978;
Beaumont, 1980; Grun et al.,
1990; Grun Stringer,
1991; Morris, 1992b; Miller
et al., 1993, 1999; Pfeiﬀer
Zehr, 1996; Pearson
Grine, 1996 (but see Sillen
90–50 ka AAR, associated fauna, Klein, 1999
overlying 14C dates
Dar-es-Soltan, Cranial, maxillary MSA (Aterian) Inﬁnite C McBurney, 1961;
Morocco mandibular fragments Ferembach, 1976b; Howell,
of 2 individuals, adult 1978; Brauer Rimbach,
subadult 1990; Wendorf et al., 1990;
Brauer, 1992; Debenath,
1980, 1994; Debenath
et al., 1982, 1986; Hublin,
60–90 ka Associated Aterian This paper, based upon
artifacts; TL OSL Debenath, 1994; Martini
for in situ Aterian et al., 1996; Cremaschi
material in Libya et al., 1998
Table 1, Group 3 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Die Kelders, South 24 teeth, mandibular MSA 40 ka, 60 ka (EU), ESR Grine Klein, 1985; Grine
Africa fragment, 2 manual 80 ka (LU) et al., 1991; Avery et al.,
71–45 ka ESR, associated fauna, Klein, 1999
60–80 ka ESR, TL, OSL, IRSL Grine, 2000; Schwarcz
Rink, 2000; Feathers
Equus Cave, South Mandibular left corpus MSA 93–44 ka U-series on tufa, C Grine Klein, 1985; Klein
Africa (hyena layer) fragment with 2 on Mn patina et al., 1991
isolated adult teeth
71–27 ka C, associated fauna, Klein, 1999
. . .
Hoedjies Punt, South Cranial and postcranial MSA 70 ka U-series Volman, 1978; Berger
Africa fragments, isolated Parkington, 1995
300–71 ka U-series, associated Klein, 1999
fauna, geologic context
Kabua, Kenya Cranial mandibular Uncertain ?Late Pleistocene Geologic context Whitworth, 1966;
fragments of 2 Rightmire, 1975
Table 1, Group 3 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Klasies River, South Five partial adult MSA LBS member: 118 ka O/18O on marine Bada Deems, 1975;
Africa mandibles, 2 partial (oxygen isotope stage molluscs, aspartic acid Rightmire, 1978b; Butzer,
adult maxillae, cranial 5e); SAS member: racemization of 1982; Singer Wymer,
fragments, ulna, radius, 94–105 ka mammalian bone, ESR 1982; Shackleton, 1982;
other fragmentary on mammalian teeth, Brauer et al., 1982; Hendy
postcranials, isolated Th/234U on Volman, 1986; Deacon,
teeth speleothem, 1988, 1989, 1993b, 1995;
geomorphology, Deacon Geleijnse, 1988;
associated fauna Deacon Shurman, 1992;
Brooks et al., 1993b; Brauer
Singer, 1996; Churchill
et al., 1996; Lam et al.,
1996; Pearson Grine,
1997; Grooves, 1998; Grine
et al., 1998; Pearson et al.,
1998; Pfeiﬀer, 1998
115–60 ka ESR, associated fauna, Klein, 1999
Mumba Rock Shelter, Three unerupted MSA 110–130 ka Th/234U on Mehlman, 1987; Brauer
Tanzania molars associated mammalian Mehlman, 1988
Mumbwa, Zambia Radial fragments ?MSA? Undated Dart Del Grande, 1931;
Jones, 1940; Clark, 1989;
Barham, 1995, 1996
Omo I, Site KHS, Adult partial skeleton ?MSA? 39 ka C on Etheria shell in Day, 1969, 1972; Butzer,
Kibish Formation, overlying unit 1969; Butzer et al., 1969;
Ethiopia Merrick et al., 1973; Day
Table 1, Group 3 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Omo I continued 130 ka Th/234U on Etheria Day, 1969, 1972; Butzer,
shell in overlying unit 1969; Butzer et al., 1969;
Merrick et al., 1973; Day
Stringer, 1982, 1991;
Brauer Rimbach, 1990;
Sea Harvest, Tooth, phalanx MSA 40 ka C on ostrich egg shell Volman, 1978; Grine
Saldanha Bay, South Klein, 1993; Klein, 1994
Africa (hyena layer)
127–40 ka C, geologic context Klein, 1999
Soleb, Sudan Cranial mandibular MSA (‘‘Late ?Late Pleistocene Associated fauna Giorgini, 1971; Sausse,
fragments of 3 Levalloisian’’) 1975a
90 ka, 160 Associated artefacts. This paper, based upon
Generalized MSA Kleindienst, 2000b;
preceeds Aterian dated Kleindienst Wiseman,
by U-series at sites in 1996; Kleindienst et al.,
Egyptian Sahara 1996; Wendorf et al., 1987,
. . .
Temara (Grotte de Adult mandible with MSA (Aterian) Late Middle Associated fauna Vallois, 1960; Biberson,
Contrabandiers, El dentition, maxillary Pleistocene 1961; Tobias, 1968; Saban,
Mnasra 2, Rabat) teeth, occipital, frontal (‘‘Epi-Ouljian’’) 1972; Roche Texier,
Morocco and parietal fragments 1976; Ferembach, 1976a;
Howell, 1978; Debenath,
1980; Debenath et al.,
1982, 1986; Hublin, 1993
40 ka Associated artefacts Close, 1984; Wendorf et al.,
(inﬁnite 14C for Aterian 1993a; Cremaschi et al.,
elsewhere in Sahara) 1998
Table 1, Group 3 Continued
Site Specimen Archaeology Date Method Selected references
Temara, continued 130–40 ka Associated artefacts This paper, based upon
60–90 ka Associated artefacts; This paper, based upon
TL OSL reported Martini et al., 1996;
for in situ Aterian Cremaschi et al., 1998
material in Libya
Taramsa, Egypt Partial juvenile skeleton MSA 50–80 ka OSL on sand Vermeersch et al., 1998
Zouhrah (El Mandible, isolated MSA (Aterian) 40 ka Associated artefacts Close, 1984; Wendorf et al.,
Harhoura, Morocco) tooth (inﬁnite 14C for Aterian 1993a; Cremaschi et al.,
elsewhere in Sahara) 1998
130–40 ka Associated artefacts This paper, based upon
60–90 ka Associated artefacts, This paper, based upon
TL OSL reported Martini et al., 1996;
for in situ Aterian Cremaschi et al., 1998
material in Libya
Age estimates considered to be most accurate are in boldface. When multiple age estimates are equally well supported, all are in boldface (e.g., estimates based
on recalibrated Olduvai sequence). AAR analyses on bone performed before 1980 should be regarded with caution. Question marks in the archaeology column
indicate that either industrial attributions or associations are problematic. Recent re-examination of Kibish Formation geology indicates that the Omo Kibish ﬁnds
may be substantially older than the date given here (Fleagle, personal communication). General references: Oakley et al., 1977; Howell, 1978, 1982; Brauer, ¨
1984a,b; Rightmire, 1984; Day, 1986; Stringer Andrews, 1988; Morris 1992a; Klein, 1999; Delson et al., 2000.
478 . . .
Figure 1. Map of archaeological and hominid fossil sites mentioned in the text. Sally McBrearty and
Alison S. Brooks.
480 . . .
intermediate between H. habilis and H. single population (Arsuaga et al., 1993,
sapiens. Clarke (1990), after detailed study 1997a,b; Bischoﬀ et al., 1997), includes
of the Ndutu cranium and Swartkrans specimens that would formerly have been
cranium SK847, also usually attributed to attributed to both H. neanderthalensis and
H. erectus, concurred with Leakey. He con- H. heidelbergensis.
sidered the verticality of the parietal walls In light of the complexity presented by
and the upper scale of the occipital as par- the European Middle Pleistocene record
ticularly compelling features distinguish- (Hublin, 1998a; Stringer Hublin, 1999),
ing the African fossils from H. erectus. there are grounds for retaining H. rhodesien-
Its correct designation is H. louisleakeyi, sis for Middle Pleistocene hominids not on
Kretzoy, 1984.3 If H. louisleakeyi is a dis- the Neanderthal lineage.4
tinct species, questions remain as to which In Group 2 specimens frontal curvature is
specimens, currently loosely housed within greater than in Group 1 fossils. Brow ridge
H. erectus, might reasonably be included development and angulation of the occiput,
within it, and how they might be distin- among other traits, are less pronounced than
guished from contemporaneous hominid in fossils of Group 1, but still fall outside the
species. range of modern human variation. Group 2
We would favor retaining the designation includes the Florisbad cranium, type speci-
H. rhodesiensis Woodward, 1921 for Kabwe men of H. helmei, and thus if these fossils
and related African specimens, although it represent a species distinct from H. sapiens
has been argued that there is no signiﬁ- and H. rhodesiensis, the name H. helmei is the
cant anatomical diﬀerence between African appropriate designation for them. H. helmei
H. rhodesiensis and European specimens is a somewhat problematic taxon, as there is
attributed to H. heidelbergensis (Stringer, as yet no formal diagnosis for the species and
1974; Brauer, 1984a; Van Vark, 1995;
¨ its unique autapomorphies are not deﬁned.
Rightmire, 1998). If the latter position Like all species (Hennig, 1965; Harrison,
is valid, the name H. heidelbergensis 1993), H. helmei may be expected to exhibit
Schoetensack, 1908 clearly has priority for a mix of primitive and derived features, and
some of the Group 1 fossils. However, the specimens attributed here to Homo
the Mauer mandible, type specimen of H. helmei share characteristics with both
heidelbergensis, has a retromolar space, sug- H. sapiens and Group 1 hominids.
gesting aﬃnities with H. neanderthalensis (cf. In a curious departure from normal
Rak, 1998). Stringer (1993b, 1996) has also taxonomic practice, Lahr Foley (1998:
called the status of H. heidelbergensis into 4. A potential complication for Middle Pleistocene
question and suggests it may be necessary nomenclature is presented by the hominid fossils from
for it to be sunk into H. neanderthalensis, Gran Dolina, Atapuerca, dating to 780 ka (Pares
Pares-Gonazalez, 1995; Bermudez de Castro et al.,
because the highly variable Sima de los 1997), for whom the investigators have erected the
Huesos sample from Atapuerca, dating to taxon H. antecessor. They claim that derived features in
about 300 ka and presumed to represent a the fossils make it likely that they represent a population
ancestral to both H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens. If
3. Clarke (1990) resurrected the taxon H. leakeyi the Gran Dolina fossils, like later Sima de los Huesos
Heberer, 1963, whose holotype is OH9, for this and material, dating to about 300 ka (Arsuaga et al., 1993,
other African specimens formerly attributed to H. 1997a,b; Bischoﬀ et al., 1997), fall on the Neanderthal
erectus. However, Groves (1999) has pointed out that lineage, they are excluded from modern human
because Heberer (1963) awarded the name leakeyi ancestry (Rightmire, 1998). If the taxon H. antecessor
conditionally, it is not available according to the Inter- has validity, it is critical clearly to distinguish it from H.
national Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Kretzoi’s heidelbergensis, if it is proposed to extend the latter taxon
(1984) proposal of H. (Proanthropus) louisleakeyi for to non-European material. Resolution of these issues
OH9 is thus the valid designation for it and related requires further detailed study of the fossils themselves
fossils. and the application of cladistic methods.
Figure 2. Time ranges of African hominid taxa mentioned in the text. Sally McBrearty.
157) have included certain European fossils Fossils in Group 3 are those of H. sapiens
in H. helmei on the basis of their ages (iso- (sensu stricto), sometimes distinguished by
topic stages 6, 7, and 8) and presumed others as the subspecies, H. sapiens sapiens.
associated technology (‘‘mode 3’’). Stringer Early African fossils of H. sapiens include
(1996), in a consideration of cranial charac- Klasies River, Border Cave (but see Sillen
ters, places Asian specimens such as Dali, Morris, 1996) and Omo Kibish I. While in
Maba, Narmada, and Zuttiyeh in this group. some cases retaining a degree of skeletal
These practices are not followed here. robusticity, these fossils are essentially like
Rather, the species is taken to encompass modern people in their morphology (e.g.,
those African fossils described by previous Grine Klein, 1985, 1993; Habgood,
authors (e.g., Day, 1973; Brauer, 1984a,b,
¨ 1989; Rightmire Deacon, 1991; Stringer,
1989; Smith, 1985, 1993; Clark, 1988; 1995, 1996, 1998; but see Schwartz
Klein, 1989b; Stringer, 1993a, 1995, 1996) Tattersall, 2000). Klasies frontal fragment
as ‘‘intermediate’’ in morphology between 16425, for example, is modern in the con-
those of Group 1 and H. sapiens sensus stricto. formation of its supraorbital region, and
These include Ngaloba (LH 18), Dar-es- mandibles 21776 and 41815 have well
Soltan, Guomde, Eliye Springs, and Omo developed chins and no retromolar spaces
Kibish II, though the latter specimen is (Klein, 1994; Grine et al., 1998; Rightmire,
currently undergoing reconstruction by 1998). The Klasies hominids show a high
Lahr Foley (personal communication) degree of variation that may represent sexual
and its taxonomic evaluation may change as dimorphism. Some of the smaller Klasies
a result. The Singa specimen is included fossils, such as the temporal fragment
because, although it shows clear pathology SAM-AP 6269, fall within or even below the
in the cranial vault (Stringer, 1979; Stringer range of modern female San (Grine et al.,
et al., 1985; Spoor Stringer, 1998), 1998).
Stringer (personal communication) believes Current best estimates of age ranges for
that it shows primitive features that exclude relevant Pleistocene hominid taxa are pre-
it from H. sapiens sensu stricto. sented in Figure 2. It is unlikely that the
482 . . .
known fossils represent the true ﬁrst and OH12, OH22, and OH28 (formerly 600–
last appearances of these hominid species. 800 ka, now 0·78–1·2 Ma), and OH23 and
Statistical principles suggest that the known the Ndutu cranium (now ca. 370–990 ka).
age range for any taxon is in part a function Many of the age estimates for other homin-
of sample size, and it has been empirically ids in Group 1 are derived from faunal
demonstrated that expanded sample sizes correlation with Olduvai Beds III and IV.
can aﬀect ﬁrst and last appearance data for For example, the age of the Saldanha
fossil taxa, including hominoids (Hill, 1987; cranium, once thought to perhaps be as
Strauss Sadler, 1989; Marshall, 1990; young as 130 ka, was revised to ca. 400–
Springer, 1990; Flynn et al., 1995). In short, 700 ka on the basis of comparison of its
larger samples tend to lengthen fossil taxa’s associated fauna to that in Olduvai Bed IV.
lifespans, and we may expect discoveries of The same faunal evidence now may bring
fossils both older and younger than those Saldanha into the 1·07–1·3 Ma time range
represented here. (see Table 1 for references). Parallel reason-
Early dating attempts by 14C and AAR ing can be applied to the Kabwe cranium,
produced results that often were not recog- the type of H. rhodesiensis, as well as other
nized as inﬁnite. Prior to recent redating hominids in Group 1. Though these ideas
eﬀorts, age estimates for many of these require testing with independent methods, it
specimens were derived from faunal com- is interesting to note that humans may be
parisons. Unlike the Pliocene or earlier part of an essentially modern fauna that has
Pleistocene, there are few good faunal tem- deeper roots in Africa than has been thus far
poral indicators for the Middle Pleistocene, appreciated.
and there was a tendency in previous studies H. sapiens is present in South Africa at
to refer fragmentary specimens to modern 110–120 ka at Klasies River and before
species, and thus systematically to inﬂate 130 ka in East Africa in the Kibish
the numbers of modern taxa in Middle Formation and at Mumba, Tanzania (for
Pleistocene faunal assemblages. Conse- references see Table 1). These are only
quently age estimates for many hominid slightly earlier than early H. sapiens in Israel,
specimens converged upon 130 ka, the which date to ca. 80–120 ka at Skhul
Middle to Late Pleistocene boundary. With (Stringer et al., 1989; Mercier et al., 1993;
the application of reﬁned techniques, the Bar-Yosef, 1998) and to 92–115 ka at
trend in nearly all cases has been for age Qafzeh (Valladas et al., 1988; Schwarcz
estimates to be revised downward. It is et al., 1988; Bar-Yosef, 1998). Dates for H.
unclear whether faunal assemblages from helmei fall between ca. 300 ka for Guomde
this time range contain a higher proportion (Feibel et al., 1989; Brauer et al., 1997) and
of undetected archaic taxa, or whether the ca. 130 ka. The antiquity of this species is
modern African fauna has a greater antiquity supported by the ESR age determination of
than previously recognized. 260 ka made by direct assay on a hominid
The age of the recently discovered Buia tooth associated with the holotype at
cranium is estimated at ca. 1·0 Ma (Abbate Florisbad (Grun et al., 1996; Brink Grun,
et al., 1998). Recent recalibration of the 1998).
Olduvai Gorge sequence (Kimbel, 1995; A number of inferences can be drawn
Tamrat et al., 1995; Walter et al., 1991; from these data. In contrast to the pattern
1992; White, 2000; Delson Van seen in western Europe, eastern Asia, and
Couvering, 2000; for other references see the Near East, there is a series of closely
Table 1) directly aﬀects the ages of OH9 related taxa that provide plausible ancestors
(formerly ca. 1·2 Ma, now ca. 1·4 Ma) for H. sapiens, and the record shows no
abrupt discontinuities. This pattern in itself relaxation of selection for constant mobility
is suggestive of in situ evolution of H. sapiens and close encounters with prey (Trinkaus,
in Africa. The data may represent one of 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987). Fewer serious
two evolutionary modes: (1) a series of traumatic injuries are observed on skeletons
arbitrarily deﬁned chronospecies, or (2) a of early H. sapiens than on Neanderthals,
Middle Pleistocene adaptive radiation indicating either fewer or more successful
within genus Homo in Africa. The latter violent encounters with animals or other
scenario has appeal because, although it humans (Berger Trinkaus, 1995). The
would greatly complicate archaeological tropical limb proportions of early H. sapiens
interpretations, it parallels more closely in late glacial Europe suggest not only an
what is known of earlier evolutionary events extension of the human geographic range
within the Hominidae. However, greater out of the tropics, but also the use of cultural
chronologic control is needed to evaluate its rather than physical solutions to the prob-
merits. lems of cold temperatures and scarce
resources (Trinkaus, 1981; Torrence, 1983;
Foley, 1987; Ruﬀ, 1994; Holliday, 1997,
Behavior from fossils
1998, 2000; Pearson, 1997). That these
The origin of H. sapiens cannot be under- solutions resulted in less nutritional stress
stood without reference to behavior. among juveniles in early modern human
Behavior can sometimes be established from populations is reﬂected in the lower inci-
examination of the fossils themselves. For dence of Harris’ lines and enamel hypo-
example, cutmarks on the Bodo skull and plasias among these populations relative to
the Klasies River sample may indicate the Neanderthals (Bermudez de Castro,
cannibalism or ritual behavior (White, 1986, 1988; Ogilvie et al., 1989; Brennan, 1991;
1987; Deacon Deacon, 1999). Postcrania Trinkaus, 1995), although sample sizes in
are a possible source of information regard- these studies are small.
ing postural and locomotor habits and Cultural solutions to the challenges
activity levels, though postcranial remains imposed by dangerous predators and inter-
from African Middle Pleistoene and early mittent food scarcity are implicit in the
later Pleistocene contexts are few in number archaeological record of the MSA in Africa.
(see Table 1) and, in most cases, problems Projectile technology lessens the inherent
of association render taxonomic attribution risk of hunting dangerous game animals by
diﬃcult. Fossil postcrania exhibit both inﬂicting ‘‘death at a distance’’ (Berger
primitive and derived traits (Stringer, 1986; Trinkaus, 1995; Cattelain, 1997; but see
Solan Day, 1992; Churchill et al., 1996; Bartram, 1997; Hitchcock Bleed, 1997),
Pearson Grine, 1997; Groves, 1998; and it is quite likely that some MSA points
McBrearty et al., 1999). Features of the were used as projectiles. Modern foragers
proximal ulnae from Klasies River and the combat seasonal scarcity through economic
Kapthurin Formation led Churchill et al. adaptations such as food storage, scheduled
(1996) to suggest a diﬀerent pattern of fore- resource use, and the intensiﬁcation of
arm loading during ﬂexion than is found in habitat exploitation, either through the
most living representatives of H. sapiens. use of small scale resources or through
The gracilization of the upper limb which modiﬁcation of the environment. Social
marks the advent of anatomical modernity adaptations to scarcity may involve the
(Churchill et al., 1996; Pearson et al., 1998; maintenance of long-distance reciprocal
Pfeiﬀer, 1998) is a reversal of a previous exchange relationships, or the long-term
trend towards robusticity and may suggest a retention of individual and group memories
484 . . .
of distant resources or survival strategies, metries of the face and mandible, which are
often aided by the use of symbol and ritual not preserved in this specimen (Hublin,
(de Garine Harrison, 1988). We argue 1994). It is feasible that the survival of these
that most, if not all, of these behaviors were three individuals required intervention by
practised in the MSA. other members of the group, particularly in
Three African Middle Pleistocene homi- the case of Sale, which demonstrates the
nid fossil crania show signs of pathology that survival of a handicapped infant into adult-
are relevant to behavioral reconstruction. hood.
The Kabwe skull displays extensive dental
caries as well as lesions to both the
Archaeology, behavior and hominid
squamous and petrous portions of the left
temporal bone and to the left mastoid pro-
cess. Although Yearsley (1928) had pro- How do the hominids of Groups 1, 2, and 3
posed acute mastoiditis as the cause of the diﬀer in their adaptations and other aspects
lesions to the mastoid and the petrous tem- of their behavior, and are these diﬀerences
poral, examination by Montgomery et al. adequate to distinguish them at the species
(1994) shows these to be the result of post- level? In both neotology and paleontology,
mortem trauma. However, the same study behavior is considered part of what separates
describes the everted edges of the squamous a species from closely related forms
temporal lesion, indicating that it is a par- (Dobzhansky, 1937; Mayr, 1963). It is a
tially healed premortem or perimortem signiﬁcant component in determining a
injury. While these authors attribute the species’ adaptation, geographic range, and
lesion to a cyst or benign tumor, the sug- mate recognition system, all of which
gestion of Wells (1964) that it represents contribute to the maintenance of species
an abscess resulting from the dental caries boundaries (Wiens, 1977; Paterson, 1985;
cannot be ruled out. Tattersall, 1986; Foley Lee, 1989; Foley,
The Singa calvaria exhibits a pronounced 1991a, 1994). Darwin (1859: 76) and his
thickening of the diploic layer of the tem- successors (e.g., Dobzhansky, 1937; Mayr,
porals (Stringer et al., 1985), as well as 1963) have generally argued that closely
complete ossiﬁcation of the bony labyrinth related species experience the greatest com-
of the petrous portion of the right temporal petition for resources, and can only coexist
(Spoor Stringer, 1998). These features if they use the environment diﬀerently. In
are consistent with either infection or the study of human evolution, species
anemia. Total ossiﬁcation requires at least deﬁnitions have often been underlain,
one year to complete, and would have overtly or covertly, by supposed behavioral
resulted in complete deafness in the right distinctions, as in the case of H. habilis
ear. The initial bout of disease, lasting from (Leakey et al., 1964; Tobias, 1991).
a few days to a few months, would have been Archaeological remains are a good source
accompanied by vertigo, postural imbal- of evidence for past behavior, and may
ance, and possible paralysis (Spoor help to clarify the nature of later Middle
Stringer, 1998). The Sale calvaria shows
´ Pleistocene speciation events themselves.
deformation to the nuchal area that resulted The most conspicuous behavioral event in
from weakened and asymmetrically devel- the late Middle Pleistocene archaeological
oped nuchal musculature. The condition record of Africa is the disappearance of the
suggests in utero deformity or perinatal Acheulian industry before 200 ka, and its
trauma and probably resulted in reduced replacement by diverse MSA traditions.
mobility of the head and marked asym- Thus, it is to the late Acheulian and early
Table 2 Summary of hominids and their archaeological associations
GROUP 1=ESA GROUP 2=MSA
(H. louisleakeyi, (H. helmei or GROUP 3=MSA
H. rhodesiensis) H. sapiens) (H. sapiens)
Aın Maarouf (Ach)
¨ Florisbad (?) Border Cave
Bodo (Ach/Old) Haua Fteah Dar-es-Soltan
Cave of Hearths (Ach) Jebel Irhoud Die Kelders
Eyasi (Sang) Mugharet el Aliya (?) Equus Cave
Kabwe (?Sang/MSA?) Ngaloba Hoedjies Punt
Melka Konture (Ach)
´ Omo II (?) Klasies River
Ndutu (Ach) Porc Epic (?) Mumba
OH 9 (Ach/Old) Singa (?) Mumbwa (?)
OH 23 (Ach) Omo 1 (?)
OH 28 (Ach) Sea Harvest
OH 34 (Ach) Soleb
Saldanha (Ach) Temara
Sidi Abderrahman (Ach) Taramsa
Question marks indicate that associations are problematic.
MSA that we should look to understand are sound taxonomic categories? How con-
the circumstances surrounding the origin of sistent are the archaeological associations of
H. sapiens. This obvious fact is consistently each group and how great are the behavioral
overlooked because Europe’s earliest mod- or ecological diﬀerences among them?
ern human inhabitants, about 150,000 years The correlations between archaeological
later, were makers of Upper Paleolithic tech- industries and hominid taxa in Middle
nology. Thus the origin of H. sapiens has Pleistocene and early Late Pleistocene
been conﬂated with the origin of the Upper Africa are summarized in Table 2.
Paleolithic. The Acheulian contains large While hominids cannot necessarily be
bifaces, while most MSA industries are assumed to be the makers of the artefacts
characterized by smaller ﬂake tools, some- with which they are found, the associations
times made on ﬂakes struck from prepared are striking in their consistency. Fossils of
cores, a technology often referred to as Group 1 in all cases are associated with
Mode 3 (Clark, 1977).5 The abandonment Oldowan, Acheulian or Sangoan artefacts
of handaxes and cleavers for smaller ﬂake (here considered ESA technology), while
tools represents the replacement of hand- both H. helmei and early members of H.
held by hafted implements and signals a sapiens are associated with MSA technology.
profound technological reorganization. Thus, it appears that the major adaptive
To what extent can behavioral data help shift represented by the Acheulian-MSA
to resolve the issue of whether these species boundary ca. 250–300 ka corresponds with
5. Mode 3 technology alone, however, cannot be a speciation event. In contrast, there is
equated with the MSA (contra Foley Lahr, 1997; no evidence for hominid morphological
Lahr Foley, 1998) for a number of reasons: (1) change during the MSA–LSA transition,
Prepared core technology ﬁrst makes its apperance in
the Acheulian (ESA); (2) many MSA assemblages lack which is the product of culture change.
prepared cores; (3) in South, East, and Northeast Overlying the Acheulian and underlying the
Africa, many MSA industries are blade-based (Mode 4 MSA at some sites is a heavy-duty industrial
technology); and (4) several MSA industries are
now known to contain backed geometrics (Mode 5 variant called the Sangoan (McBrearty,
technology). 1987, 1988, 1991; Cornelissen, 1995). The
486 . . .
associations of the Sangoan artefacts suggest ‘‘fully syntactical’’ language (e.g., Mellars,
that this industry may best be regarded 1991; Noble Davidson, 1991, 1996;
as part of the behavioral repertoire of the Klein, 1992, 1995; Mithen, 1994, 1996).
hominids in Group 1. Abstract and symbolic behaviors imply
The coincidence of a major archaeological language, but it is doubtful that the point at
change with the origin of H. helmei sug- which they can ﬁrst be detected coincides
gests that this species possessed enhanced with the birth of language. Attempts to
cognitive abilities when compared with the identify the earliest signs of language,
hominids in Group 1. H. helmei may whether from study of the brain (e.g., Falk,
be indistinguishable behaviorally from H. 1980, 1990; Holloway, 1983, 1985;
sapiens, suggesting a close phylogenetic Deacon, 1997), the speech apparatus
relationship. Lahr (1996) and Stringer (e.g., Falk, 1975; Lieberman, 1975, 1984;
(1996, 1998) have suggested including Arensburg et al., 1990; Lieberman et al.,
some or all of the fossils in Group 2 in H. 1992; Kay et al., 1998), stone tools (e.g.,
sapiens. We would argue that taxonomy Wynn, 1979; Dibble, 1989; Toth Schick,
should be done on the basis of fossil, not 1993), or primate communication (e.g.,
archaeological evidence. Nonetheless, the Cheney Seyfarth, 1990; Savage-
archaeological data do lend plausibility to Rumbaugh Rumbaugh, 1993), contribute
this suggestion. Should further study of to a sense of continuity, rather than dis-
the fossils ultimately support inclusion of continuity, between human and nonhuman
specimens here ascribed to H. helmei in H. primate cognitive and communicative
sapiens, there may be grounds for sinking the abilities (e.g., Parker Gibson, 1979;
taxon H. helmei. H. sapiens and MSA tech- papers in Parker Gibson, 1990; Gibson,
nology would then be seen to appear simul- 1993; Gibson Ingold, 1993; Mellars
taneously in the record between 250 ka and Gibson, 1996). Language does not fossilize,
300 ka. and technology provides insight only into
It is clear that the features diagnostic of the minimum cognitive abilities of its
physical modernity emerge in conjunction makers and users (Wobst, 1983; Wynn,
with MSA technologies. In this paper we 1985; Goren-Inbar, 1988). We infer that
present evidence to support the presence of some form of language originated early in
modern human behaviors in subsaharan human evolution, and that language existed
Africa at remote times far predating any in a variety of forms throughout its long
such traces outside Africa. We contend evolution, but we concur with those who
that the appearance of modern behaviors have pointed out the inherent untestability
accompanied or even preceded the appear- of many propositions regarding the origin of
ance of H. sapiens during the African MSA, language, and the profound silence of the
suggesting that the behaviors may perhaps archaeological record on this issue (Dibble,
have driven the anatomical changes seen in 1989; Foley, 1991b; Graves-Brown, 1994).
the fossils. We also suggest that these behav-
iors developed gradually over a substantial
period of time and sporadically in diﬀerent
parts of the continent. In this paper, discussion is limited to the
archaeological record of Africa, in order
to provide the clearest contrast between
The origin of language?
Africa and Europe. We do not attempt
In much of the recent literature, the ‘‘human systematically to integrate the evidence from
revolution’’ is synonymous with the origin of the Levant, which is increasingly seen as a
contact zone between the Eurasian fauna, continuously occupied, and have climatic
including H. neanderthalensis, and the regimes more typical of Africa as a whole.
African fauna, including H. sapiens (Jacobs, Further, the use of terminology derived
1985; Bar-Yosef, 1987, 1995b, 1998; from Europe in much of the literature treat-
Valladas et al., 1988; Tchernov, 1988, 1998; ing the Sahara and the Mediterranean
Grun et al., 1991; Holliday Trinkaus,
¨ littoral obscures the uniqueness of the MSA
1991; Ruﬀ, 1994; Bar-Yosef et al., 1996; in these regions (Kleindienst, 2000b).
Mellars, 1996, 1998a,c; Stringer, 1998;
Howell, 1998; Hublin, 1998b). The pres-
ence of both Neanderthals and H. sapiens Middle Paleolithic or Middle Stone
in the Levant presents a challenge for behav- Age?
ioral interpretation, though some interest-
Some authors (e.g., Klein, 1989b, 1995,
ing reconstructions have been proposed
1998) have argued that the Middle Stone
(Lieberman, 1993, 1998a; Lieberman
Age of Africa is just like the Middle Paleo-
Shea, 1994). In fact, we hope that the sys-
lithic of Eurasia, a long and monotonous
tematic contrast between the European and
period of ﬂake tools and stagnation, fol-
African records that we provide here may
lowed by a rapid revolutionary change to
ultimately help to clarify the picture in the
technological sophistication and economic
southwest Asian contact zone.
and social complexity. Klein (1989b: 292,
The number of well-documented late
1994: 496) argues that the use of a separate
African Middle Pleistocene or early Late
terminology for Africa is a result of historic
Pleistocene sites is not large (Figure 1).
precedent, is unfounded in the light of cur-
Africa is vast, researchers are few, and
rent research, and should be dropped. This
research history is short. Mehlman (1989)
view ignores descriptions of the African
points out the contrast between East Africa,
MSA published just 30 years ago that
with an area of 1·6 million km2 and fewer
stressed its similarities to the European
than ten excavated sites, and southwestern
Upper Paleolithic when the two were con-
France, with an area of only 21,000 km2 and
sidered contemporary (e.g., Clark, 1970).
more than 100 such sites. West Africa is
We argue that a separate terminology is
particularly poorly represented in the
required for Africa, and that the distinction
record. A further factor in our skewed per-
between ‘‘Middle Paleolithic’’ and ‘‘Middle
ception is the reliance in the literature upon
Stone Age’’ is more than semantic. As we
a small number of excavated caves on the
will show here, this is due in part to the
coasts of North and especially South Africa
presence in Africa at an early date of
(McBurney, 1967; Singer Wymer, 1982;
elements traditionally associated with H.
Volman, 1984; Deacon Geleijnse, 1988;
sapiens in the European Upper Paleolithic.
Klein, 1989a, 1994, 1998; Thackeray,
1992). While caves may provide the best
conditions for preservation, the vast majority
of African occupation sites are in open air
contexts. We privilege here the less well The most serious impediment to inter-
known but critically important excavated pretation of the Middle Pleistocene record
archaeological samples from the African has been the lack of a sound chrono-
tropical and subtropical regions at the heart logical framework. Despite improvements
of the continent, rather than those from its in sample preparation techniques and
northernmost and southermost fringes. The increased selectivity about the material
tropics encompass a larger area, were more dated, 14C dates, even using accelerator
488 . . .
mass spectrometry (AMS) become un- results from multiple techniques based upon
reliable between six to seven half-lives (by independent theoretical assumptions in-
ca. 40 ka at best), due to instrumental limi- crease conﬁdence. In nearly all cases, new
tations or to the inevitable contamination by age determinations have increased rather
modern carbon (Gowlett Hedges, 1986; than reduced previous age estimates.
Wintle, 1996; Ambrose, 1997; Chappell
et al., 1998). Further, ﬂuctuations in the
earth’s geomagnetic ﬁeld during the most
recent glacial period and resulting variations On purely stratigraphic grounds, the MSA
in cosmic nuclide production may render has long been known to postdate the
C dates in the 40 ka range several Acheulian and predate the LSA, although
thousand years too young (Mazaud et al., temporal overlap among industries at both
1991; Taylor, 1996; Joris Weninger,
¨ ends of the MSA timespan is likely.
1998; Schluchter, 1998; see Ambrose,
¨ The high degree of variability in Middle
1998a for a useful review). Pleistocene industries makes it diﬃcult to
The conventional K/Ar technique cannot identify the earliest MSA, and perhaps lends
reliably be employed for material younger support to the idea of multiple contem-
than about 500 ka or perhaps 250 ka porary hominid lineages (McBrearty et al.,
(Curtis, 1966). The Argon/Argon (40Ar/ 1996; McBrearty, 2000).
Ar) technique is both accurate and precise Late Acheulian and early MSA dates
when applied to younger volcanics cluster between 200 ka and 300 ka, and the
(McDougall, 1981; Deino Potts, 1990; Acheulian seems to have disappeared in
Hu et al., 1994; Renne et al., 1997), though most of Africa by about 200 ka. The
suitable volcanic deposits associated with Acheulian at Isimila, Tanzania has been
MSA assemblages are uncommon, even in dated by U-series to ca. 260 ka (Howell
the Rift Valley. With rare exceptions (e.g., et al., 1972). Acheulian occurrences in
Wilson Hey, 1981; Champion et al., the Kapthurin Formation, Kenya, underlie
1988; Tamrat et al., 1995), paleomagnetism volcanics dated by K/Ar to ca. 240 ka
is not useful for the long period of normal (Leakey et al., 1969; Tallon, 1976, 1978;
polarity since 780 ka. Some of the methods McBrearty et al., 1996), but now estimated
employed for this time period, such as by 40Ar/39Ar at ca. 280 ka (Deino
electron spin resonance (ESR), thermo- McBrearty, under review). The Acheulian in
luminescence (TL), optically stimulated the western desert of Egypt is also thought
luminescence (OSL), infrared stimulated to end at either about 200 ka (McHugh
luminescence (IRSL), U-series enhanced et al., 1988) or perhaps as much as 350 ka
by thermal ionization mass spectrometry (Wendorf Schild, 1992). A U-series date
(TIMS), and amino acid racemization of ca. 174 ka on a late Acheulian occurrence
(AAR) are prone to error under the varying at Rooidam, South Africa (Szabo Butzer,
conditions encountered in archaeological 1979) seems somewhat anomalous in this
contexts. Successful application requires context.
accurate reconstruction of sedimentary and Dates for the earliest MSA in East Africa
diagenetic processes, ground water action, converge on the interval 240–280 ka. Very
and temperature history (Hare, 1980; Grun ¨ early K/Ar dates were reported by Evernden
Stringer, 1991; Schwarcz, 1992; Miller Curtis (1965) for East African MSA sites
et al., 1993, 1997; Schwarcz Grun, 1993a;
¨ when the method was still in its infancy.
Feathers, 1996; Wintle, 1996; Schwarcz, Dates of 440 ka and 557 ka for ‘‘pseudo-
1998; Schwarcz Rink, 1998). Concordant Still Bay’’ occurrences at Cartwright’s and
Wetherill’s sites on the Kinangop Plateau, Cremaschi et al., 1998), but, as in Egypt, the
Kenya, may be accurate, but the strati- Aterian is preceded in the Maghreb by an
graphic relationship of the dated tuﬀs to the unspecialized MSA industry of far greater
occupation horizons is less secure (Curtis, antiquity (Hublin, 1993; Debenath, 1994;
personal communication; personal obser- Kleindienst, 2000b). Some investigators
vation). A date of 240 ka was reported in the place the end of the Aterian at 20 ka, on
same paper for a crystal rich pumiceous the basis of 14C on lacustrine carbonate
lapilli tuﬀ overlying ‘‘Kenya Still Bay’’ arte- (Wengler Vernet, 1992; Wengler, 1997;
facts at Malewa Gorge in the central Kenya Kleindienst, 2000b), but this method has
Rift Valley. A K/Ar date of 180 ka for the proved unreliable in other contexts, and
Ethiopian site of Gademotta, cited for many these dates should probably be treated as
years as the earliest for the MSA (Wendorf inﬁnite. The main body of Aterian sites thus
et al., 1975), has been revised to 235 5 ka predates the aridiﬁcation of the Sahara
(Wendorf et al., 1994). The earliest MSA in during the last glacial maximum that begins
the Kapthurin Formation, Kenya, appears at ca. 40 ka (Wendorf Schild, 1993;
to predate volcanics dated by 40Ar/39Ar to Wendorf et al., 1993a; Close, 1984;
280 ka (McBrearty, 1999; Deino Cremaschi et al., 1998).
McBrearty, under review). U-series dates on In the interior of South Africa, sites
speleothem support an antiquity for the where MSA assemblages overlie Acheulian
early MSA at Twin Rivers, Zambia, of remains, such as Cave of Hearths (Mason,
230 ka or older (Barham Smart, 1996). 1962), are undated. The oldest dates for the
U-series and AAR dates from Mumba Rock MSA in South Africa are ESR determi-
Shelter, Tanzania (Mehlman, 1987, 1989) nations from the sequence at Florisbad
indicate an age for the base of the MSA (Grun et al., 1996). An undiagnostic MSA
sequence there of ca. 130 ka, and obsidian assemblage from the basal deposits at
hydration indicates an age of ca. 120–50 ka Florisbad (Units N, O, and P), is estimated
for the MSA at Prospect Farm, Kenya at ca. 280 ka. Units higher in the section
(Michels et al., 1983). containing in situ MSA artefacts date to
In North Africa, a series of 160 dates ca. 160 (Units M–G) and 120 ka (Unit F)
using a variety of methods (OSL, AAR, (Kuman Clarke, 1986; Kuman et al.,
ESR, TL, U-series) indicates that the MSA 2000). At Border Cave TL and AAR dates
at the sites of Bir Tarfawi and Bir Sahara for strata 4WA and 5BS are at least 100 ka
East in southwestern Egypt begins (Grun et al., 1990; Miller et al., 1993). The
ca. 230 ka (Miller et al., 1991; Wendorf underlying strata 5WA and 6BS may be
Schild, 1992; Bluszcz, 1993; Miller, 1993; considerably older (Grun et al., 1990), per-
Schwarcz Grun, 1993b). U-series dates
¨ haps as much as 195 ka (Butzer et al., 1978).
indicate that the Aterian at Dakleh oasis in At coastal South African sites evidence for
the western desert of Egypt predates 90 ka, MSA habitation prior to the last interglacial
and may be as old as 160 ka (Kleindienst is lacking. Middle Pleistocene deposits may
Wiseman, 1996; Kleindienst et al., 1996; have been scoured out of coastal caves dur-
Kleindienst, 2000b). The Aterian of the ing marine high stands preceding stage 5,
Mediterranean littoral and the Maghreb and countless early sites may lie on the now
may be a bit younger; TL and OSL dates on inundated oﬀshore coastal platform. At
sands containing in situ Aterian artefacts at Klasies River features of the geomorphology
the sites of Uan Afuda and Uan Tabu, and microfauna, the oxygen isotope con-
Libya, indicate an age for the industry there tent of marine shell, ESR dates on fossil
of 90 ka to 60 ka (Martini et al., 1996; mammalian teeth, and U-series dates on
490 . . .
speleothem indicate an age for the earliest problems. For example, van Noten (1977)
MSA levels (MSA I) of 110 ka, perhaps has referred the industry from Matupi
130 ka (Deacon, 1988, 1989, 1993b; Cave, D.R. Congo, to the LSA, based on
Deacon Geleijnse, 1988; Deacon the presence of microlithic debitage. He
Shurman, 1992; Schwarcz Grun, 1993a;
¨ gives an age estimate of ca. 50 ka for this
Thackeray, 1992), although South African assemblage, based on extrapolation from
MSA technology no doubt has its begin- C dates higher in the sequence. But
nings substantially earlier (Volman, 1984). because classic microblade cores and backed
Probably the most convincing evidence for elements are lacking, the attribution of the
the antiquity of the MSA at Klasies is pro- industry to the LSA has been questioned.
vided by Shackleton (1982) who notes that On the other hand, at sites such as Rose
the last time the ocean was isotopically as Cottage Cave (Kohary, 1989), Sehonghong,
light as the shells from the MSA I levels was and Strathalan, South Africa, the earliest
during the last interglacial (stage 5e) dating bladelet levels, dated by 14C to ca. 26 ka,
to 118 ka. Further support is provided by are referred to a ﬁnal or ‘‘microlithic’’
sands in the lowermost sedimentary unit MSA by Wadley (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997;
that were derived from a nearby beach, and cf. Mitchell, 1994), due to the presence of
sea levels have not been high enough to foliate points, typical of the MSA, that
provide the source material since that are found in association with the blade-
time (Hendey Volman, 1986; Deacon lets and microblade cores, though cir-
Geleijnse, 1988; Deacon Shurman, cumstances of recovery at Sehonghong
1992). may make questions of association
The Howiesons Poort is no longer seen as
a transitional industry between the MSA
Dating the end of the MSA and the begin- and the LSA, and the concept of a ‘‘Second
ning of the LSA is also somewhat problem- Intermediate’’ was abandoned along with
atic. First, in much of tropical Africa the the Magosian industry. Yet controlled
MSA–LSA transition lies at or beyond the excavation at stratiﬁed sites with fairly
limits of the radiocarbon method, and 14C continuous sequences has documented
dates reported in the 1970s for the earliest industries containing both LSA and MSA
LSA (e.g., Beaumont Vogel, 1972a,b) elements that overlie industries which are
should be regarded as inﬁnite (Ambrose, unquestionably MSA and underlie those
1997, 1998a). In East and Central Africa which fall clearly in the LSA. The un-
the record for the LSA begins well before dated MSA 1 level at Sodmein Cave, on
40 ka at sites such as Enkapune ya Muto, the Red Sea coast of Egypt, as described
Kenya (Ambrose, 1998a) and at Mumba by van Peer et al. (1996) contains blades
Rock Shelter and in the Naisusu Beds, and other elements indicating that it may
Tanzania, (Kokis, 1988; Mehlman, 1989; be a transitional industry. The Mumba
Manega, 1993). Second, there is con- Industry, a late MSA entity contain-
siderable disagreement over which criteria ing backed geometrics, typical of the
deﬁne the earliest LSA. The presence of LSA, has been described from Bed V
microliths, bladelets, microblade cores, and at Mumba Rock Shelter, Tanzania,
backed geometric forms, or the absence of by Mehlman (1979, 1987, 1989). At
points or other typical MSA elements are Mumba, backed elements increase in fre-
variously used as criteria in assigning assem- quency through the section, as mean arte-
blages to the LSA. This leads to inevitable fact size declines. U-series dates on bone
from middle Bed V indicate an antiquity late appearance of the LSA at about 20 ka
of ca. 65 ka, and this age is conﬁrmed by at sites such as Rose Cottage Cave,
AAR dates on ostrich eggshell ranging Sehonghong and Strathalan (Wadley
from 45–65 ka from the upper part of the Harper, 1989; Opperman Heydenrych,
same unit (Kokis, 1988; Brooks et al., 1990; Wadley Vogel, 1991; Wadley,
1993b). Similar ‘‘transitional’’ industries 1993, 1997). It is unclear whether this dis-
are known from Botswana, Zimbabwe, crepancy is due to problems with the radio-
and South Africa, and their presence con- carbon dating or with the deﬁnition of the
ﬁrms the lack of abrupt discontinuities in LSA, or whether it reﬂects a real persistence
the African prehistoric record. of the MSA until very late at the southern tip
At White Paintings Shelter, Botswana, an of the continent.
MSA–LSA transitional unit with a bone
point, bladelets, and a large backed crescent,
but without the MSA points found in the Archaeological signals for Modern
underlying units, is dated by several tech- Behavior
niques to 50–38 ka (Robbins et al., 1994,
under review; Kokis et al., 1998). A similar The European Upper Paleolithic, because it
industry is known from [Gi, Botswana is known to be the product of H. sapiens, is
(Brooks Yellen, 1987; Brooks et al., often used as a standard for modern human
1990). In Zimbabwe, the MSA–LSA tran- behavior, which is contrasted with the
sition appears to be particularly long and European Middle Paleolithic produced
complex, with some sites containing MSA by the Neanderthals (e.g., White, 1982;
points as late as 13 ka (Walker, 1990, Clark Lindly, 1989, 1991; Hayden, 1993;
1991, 1995; Larsson, 1996). At Nswatugi, Klein, 1995; Mellars, 1995). The litera-
Zimbabwe, large backed crescents in the ture converges upon a number of common
uppermost MSA with an inﬁnite radio- ingredients thought to characterize modern
carbon date (42 ka) may represent the human behavior:
earliest phase of the post-MSA or late MSA
Increasing artefact diversity.
Tshangula industry (Cooke, 1966, 1969) or
Standardization of artefact types.
perhaps an MSA industry related either to the
Howiesons Poort (Walker, 1995) or to the
Worked bone and other organic materials.
Mumba industry (Mehlman, 1979, 1989).
Personal ornaments and ‘‘art’’ or images.
In South Africa, with one of the best-
Structured living spaces.
documented records of Late Pleistocene
human occupation on the continent, three
Economic intensiﬁcation, reﬂected in the
diﬀerent scenarios have been described. One exploitation of aquatic or other resources
is a major hiatus at many sites between that require specialized technology.
the ﬁnal MSA, predating 60 ka, and the
Enlarged geographic range.
earliest LSA, at or after 20 ka (Brooks
Expanded exchange networks.
Robertshaw, 1990; Mitchell, 1990;
Parkington, 1990; Walker, 1990). A second, 6. Problematic ESR dates of ca. 28–31 ka for this
as at Border Cave, is the appearance of industry at Border Cave (Grun et al., 1990; Schwarcz
Grun, 1993a) are 30% younger than 14C ages for the
an early LSA (ELSA) by 38 ka, based on same units and may reﬂect systematic error in estimat-
C and AAR dates on ostrich eggshell ing the annual dose rate (Miller et al., 1993). A similar
(e.g., Beaumont, 1973b; Beaumont et al., problem may exist for the uppermost MSA levels at
Klasies River, dated by ESR to 40 ka (Grun et al.,
1978; Miller et al., 1993), with no appar- 1990), but by 14C to 50 ka (Deacon, 1993b) and by
ent occupational hiatus.6 A third is a AAR to 60 ka (Brooks et al., 1993b).
492 . . .
Table 3 Archaeological signatures of modern human behavior
Range extention to previously unoccupied regions
(tropical lowland forest, islands, the far north in Europe and Asia)
Increased diet breadth
New lithic technologies: blades, microblades, backing
Standardization within formal tool categories
Hafting and composite tools
Tools in novel materials, e.g., bone, antler
Special purpose tools, e.g., projectiles, geometrics
Increased numbers of tool categories
Geographic variation in formal categories
Temporal variation in formal categories
Greater control of ﬁre
Economy and social organization
Long-distance procurement and exchange of raw materials
Curation of exotic raw materials
Specialized hunting of large, dangerous animals
Scheduling and seasonality in resource exploitation
Intensiﬁcation of resource extraction, especially aquatic and vegetable resources
Long-distance exchange networks
Group and individual self-identiﬁcation through artefact style
Structured use of domestic space
Regional artefact styles
Self adornment, e.g., beads and ornaments
Use of pigment
Notched and incised objects (bone, egg shell, ocher, stone)
Image and representation
Burials with grave goods, ocher, ritual objects
At ﬁrst glance, this inventory is remi- cepts with arbitrary symbols, vocal or
niscent of the sort of trait list that Childe visual, and to reify such symbols in
(1928, 1950) and others once used to deﬁne cultural practice.
civilization. However, they reveal assump-
tions about underlying hominid capabilities. Tangible traces of these early behavioral
We would argue that modern human shifts toward modernity can be seen in the
behavior is characterized by: African archaeological record, and can be
tied explicitly to hominid cognitive and
Abstract thinking, the ability to act with cultural capabilities. These are set out in
reference to abstract concepts not limited Table 3.
in time or space.
Ecological aspects of the record reﬂect
strategies based on past experience and to human abilities to colonize new environ-
act upon them in a group context. ments, which require both innovation and
Behavioral, economic and technological planning depth.
Economic Social features show lacking; (2) the ready visibility of Acheulian
human abilities to draw models from indi- bifaces tends to inﬂate the numbers of
vidual and group experience, to develop Acheulian sites relative to those of other
and apply systematic plans, to conceptu- periods; and (3) the environmental con-
alize and predict the future, and to con- ditions in these regions at the time of occu-
struct formalized relationships among pation are unknown. The few known dates
individuals and groups. suggest that these occupations date to the
Symbolic features demonstrate a late Middle Pleistocene (Miller et al., 1991;
capacity to imbue aspects of experience Miller, 1993). Associated lake and spring
with meaning, to communicate abstract deposits indicate a much wetter habitat
concepts, and to manipulate symbols as a than at present (Wendorf et al., 1993a,b;
part of everyday life. Churcher et al., 1999; Nicoll et al., 1999).
Sites of the MSA Aterian industry do indi-
cate widespread habitation of the Sahara
between ca. 90 ka and ca. 40 ka. Aterian
Increased geographic range sites are found in habitats varying from
Expansion of human populations into marine to mountain to semiarid desert, and
challenging habitats by means of improved occupation was not conﬁned to humid
technology is seen as a sign of cognitive periods (Marks, 1975; Williams, 1976;
sophistication and social complexity Clark, 1980; Debenath, 1994; Kleindienst,
(Torrence, 1983; Klein, 1989b; Davidson 2000b). For South Africa, Deacon (1989)
Noble, 1992; Jones, 1992; Soﬀer, 1994; observes that MSA occupations, in contrast
O’Connell Allen, 1998). This trend is to those of the Acheulian, are not restricted
seen in the African MSA. MSA sites in to sites near water sources. He suggests the
Africa are more numerous than those of the use of water containers in the MSA and
Acheulian (Figure 1), which may simply a perception of the environment indis-
reﬂect preservational bias and an increase in tinguishable from that of people of later
population size. However, the fact that they periods.
are found in virtually every corner of the Human life in a tropical rainforest
continent argues against population expan- environment, with its dispersed fauna, and
sion as the single explanatory factor. This fruit and root resources that are often
extension into previously uninhabited zones inaccessible and toxic, requires complex
is thought by Clark (1964, 1965, 1970, technology. No modern human groups are
1972, 1981, 1982, 1988, 1993) to illustrate known to subsist in the forest solely by
the improved adaptive abilities of MSA foraging without a source of domesticated
hominids over those of their Acheulian carbohydrates, and this adaptation has been
predecessors. The geographic distribution of held to have been impossible for prehistoric
MSA sites does indicate human adaptations groups (Bailey et al., 1989). Others, how-
to a wide range of challenging habitats. Two ever, argue that it is feasible, particularly if
of these, desert and forest, merit special ﬁsh are incorporated into the diet (Gragson,
consideration. 1992). Evidence for early occupation of
Sparse Acheulian sites indicate sporadic tropical forest environments is equivocal.
occupation of what is now the Sahara, Acheulian sites are very rare for the Congo
Namib, Karoo, and Kalahari deserts, but Basin. Clark (1964, 1965, 1970, 1975,
our understanding of the signiﬁcance of 1981) has suggested that the technology of
most of these is tempered by three factors: the Sangoan industry provided the equip-
(1) good data for the interior of the Sahara is ment necessary for a forest adaptation.
494 . . .
However, Sangoan artefacts are found in rainfall remained adequate to support tropi-
regions far outside the Congo Basin, such as cal forest species, even in areas now occupied
at Isimila, Tanzania (Howell et al., 1962, by savanna vegetation (Mercader Marti,
1972), and perhaps in the Kapthurin 2000).
Formation, Kenya (McBrearty et al., 1996;
Cornelissen, 1995), where they are clearly
not elements of forest extractive technology.
Other sites occur in regions of tropical Blades
Africa that are now forested, but where The earliest true Upper Paleolithic industry,
evidence indicates arid or semiarid con- the Aurignacian, appears in Europe at
ditions at the time of occupation, probably approximately the same time as the ﬁrst
during cold isotope stage 6 (195 ka–130 ka) traces of H. sapiens ca. 40–45 ka (White,
(McBrearty, 1987, 1993a,b; Clark, 1988). 1982, 1989a, 1992; Bischoﬀ et al., 1989;
The MSA is represented in the greater Cabrera Valdes Bischoﬀ, 1989; Klein,
Congo Basin by the Lupemban industry, 1989a; Mellars, 1989a, 1993, 1996,
characterized by beautifully made lanceolate 1998b,c; Otte, 1990; Bischoﬀ et al., 1994;
points. However, there are few excavated Straus, 1994; Bar-Yosef, 1998). Though
Lupemban sites (Cahen, 1978; McBrearty, some would argue for continuity in lithic
1986, 1988), and virtually no dates or industries across the European Middle to
paleoenvironmental data for this industry. Upper Paleolithic boundary (e.g., Otte,
Many Lupemban sites formerly regarded as 1990; Clark Lindly, 1989; Straus, 1983,
in good context have been found to be 1994, 1995; d’Errico et al., 1998), it seems
profoundly bioturbated (Cahen, 1976). increasingly likely that Upper Paleolithic
LSA sites in the Congo Basin are reported technology was introduced into Europe by
by Fiedler Preuss (1985). Mercader et al. H. sapiens migrants (Mellars, 1999). In some
(2000c) document a sequence of LSA oc- cases, aspects of Upper Paleolithic tech-
cupations in the Ituri forest in association nology were adopted by the Neanderthal
with paleobotanical indicators of forest residents (Demars Hublin, 1989; Mellars,
conditions dating back to the last glacial 1989b, 1998a,b; Farizy, 1990; Ruiz
maximum, showing that use of the forest by Hublin, 1994).
hunter gatherer groups has great antiquity. European Upper Paleolithic technology
Mercader Marti (1999a,b, 2000; is dominated by blades, and thus blade
Mercader et al., 2000a,b) document two production has been considered a key
probable MSA sites in West Africa that ingredient of the ‘‘human revolution’’ (e.g.,
suggest occupation of the tropical forest. Mellars Stringer, 1989). At the simplest
Njuinye, Cameroon, and Mosumu, Equator- level, blades are simply ﬂakes with a
ial Guinea are dated by AMS 14C radio- breadth:length ratio c0·5. Although some
carbon to 30 ka and 34 ka, respectively (e.g., Wurz, 1999) distinguish between
(Mercader Marti, 2000; Mercader, blades and ﬂake-blades, this practice is not
personal communication). Direct paleo- followed here. Long narrow ﬂakes will be
environmental evidence is lacking at the sites produced fortuitously in the course of
themselves, but pollen records and plant almost any kind of ﬂake production, but the
macrofossils are preserved at nearby paleobo- repeated, consistent production of blades
tanical sampling localities with a comparable requires a deliberate series of technological
time depth. These show that while tempera- steps. Elongated Levallois cores struck
tures were no doubt cooler in this region of repeatedly from either end can yield blades
West Africa during the last glacial maximum, which are indistinguishable from those
produced on the cylindrical or pyramidal parts of the cave as a result of the strati-
cores more typical of the European Upper graphic heterogeneity of the cave ﬁll
Paleolithic. Blades are a more eﬃcient use of (Jelinek, 1982, 1990; Grun et al., 1991;
lithic raw material than either core or ﬂake Grun Stringer, 1991; Schwarcz Grun,
tools, as they represent a greater length of 1993a; Bar-Yosef, 1994, 1995a, 1998;
cutting edge per unit volume of stone. Schwarcz, 1994; Mercier et al., 1995;
Blades also functioned as blanks with stand- Mellars et al., 1997).
ardized proportions that were used as the In Africa, blade production has great
basis of composite tools in many late prehis- antiquity. Blades are found in the pre-
toric industries. Blade production, whether Aurignacian industry at the Haua Fteah,
by direct or indirect percussion, requires the Libya (McBurney, 1967; Chazan, 1994),
cognitive skills to perceive artefact forms not whch has been correlated with isotopic stage
preordained by the raw material and to 5 on faunal grounds and therefore esti-
visualize the manufacturing process in three mated by Klein Scott (1986) to date to
dimensions, in addition to the dexterity to ca. 127–75 ka. Blades produced by Levallois
carry out a complex series of operations technology also ﬁgure prominently in the
and corrections as the process advances. MSA of the Nile Valley beginning before
However, convincing cases can be made 200 ka (van Peer, 1992, 1998; Kleindienst,
for the cognitive sophistication and manual 2000a). In South Africa, the makers of MSA
dexterity required to produce earlier artefact industries routinely manufactured blades
forms, such a handaxe (Roche Texier, from a variety of core types (Sampson, 1972,
1991, 1995; Texier Roche, 1993) or a 1974; Volman, 1984; Kuman Clarke,
Levallois ﬂake (Roebrooks et al., 1988; van 1986; Kuman, 1989). This technology was
Peer, 1992). clearly in place by 120 ka, but its beginnings
Blade production is often treated in the are poorly constrained temporally.
literature as a uniquely modern human In East Africa, the presence of volcanics
invention with a recent genesis, but in fact, makes possible a chronology based on K/Ar
the origins of blade production are more and, more recently, 40Ar/39Ar. In much of
complex. While most European Middle Kenya, Tanzania, and eastern D. R. Congo,
Paleolithic industries are ﬂake-based, it is MSA lithic industries are based not upon
now realized that assemblages from several blades, but upon ﬂakes produced from
Middle Paleolithic sites in France, Belgium, radial, Levallois, and other less formalized
England, and Germany have a blade com- core types. However, MSA sites in northern
ponent. Some of these sites may date to only Kenya and the Horn of Africa also contain
ca. 60 ka, while others, including Coquelles quantities of early blades. At MSA sites at
(France), Crayford (England), and Le Gademotta, Ethiopia, blade index values
Rissori (Belgium), may be as old as 250 ka if (reﬂecting the numbers of blades and blade
paleoclimatic interpretations are correct cores relative to other kinds of artefacts in
(Conard, 1990; Revillion Tuﬀreau, 1994;
´ the assemblages) range from 13·6% in levels
Revillion, 1995). In the Levant, if the TL
´ dated to d235 ka to 37·7% at younger sites
dates are accurate, the Acheuleo-Yabrudian (Wendorf Schild, 1974). Blades also con-
(Mugharan) industry, which contains stitute a signiﬁcant proportion of the debit-
blades, may predate 350 ka, though the ESR age at the MSA sites at Aduma in the
chronology at the key site of Tabun indi- Middle Awash Valley of Ethiopia (Brooks,
cates an age for this industry of 250 ka. 1996, 1999).
The lack of concordance may perhaps be The Kapthurin Formation, Kenya, pro-
due to unequal external U dose in diﬀerent vides unequivocal evidence for early African
496 . . .
blades in a late Acheulian industry. Trachyte
blades were recovered from both surface and
excavated contexts at the site of GnJh-03
(Leakey et al., 1969). The material occurs
in situ at a depth of ca. 3 m below the base of
K4, a volcanic unit. Conventional K/Ar
dates for K4 indicated an age on the order of
240–250 ka (Tallon, 1978); a current pro-
gram of redating by 40Ar/39Ar (Deino
McBrearty, under review) indicates that the
true age lies closer to 280 ka.
Between 20% and 30% of the cores from
site GnJh-03 can be classiﬁed as blade Figure 3. Semi-cylindrical core from site GnJh-03 in
cores, while about one-quarter of the exca- the Kapthurin Formation, Kenya. Sally McBrearty.
vated ﬂakes can be classiﬁed as blades
(Leakey et al., 1969; Cornelissen, 1992).
The remainder of the ﬂakes were produced
by radial and Levallois core reduction.
Experimental knapping in local trachyte
and comparison with the archaeological
sample reveals that the technique used in
blade production was direct percussion,
most likely with a hammerstone, though
soft hammer percussion cannot be ruled
out (Texier, 1996; McBrearty Texier,
n.d.). Approximately 13% of the assem-
blage from GnJh-03 can be conjoined Figure 4. Blades from site GnJh-03 in the Kapthurin
(Cornelissen, 1992), and examination of Formation, Kenya. Figure courtesy of Pierre-Jean
reﬁtting sets permits detailed reconstruc- Texier. C.N.R.S. Sophia Antipolis, France.
tion of blade production techniques,
including both Levallois and semi-
cylindrical blade removals (Figure 3) MSA points
(McBrearty Texier, n.d.). Both unidirec- The presence of stone points has been con-
tional and bidirectional blade removals are sidered a deﬁning characteristic of the MSA
represented; blades show both plain and since the inception of the term (Goodwin
faceted platforms. Distinct levels of skill are van Riet Lowe, 1929). Pointed ﬂakes and
reﬂected in the diﬀerent reﬁtted sets, and ﬂake-blades seem to have been deliberate
the most skilled knapper was able to pro- target forms for many MSA toolmakers, and
ceed through a long series of blade re- retouched points are among some of the
movals to core exhaustion. The resulting earliest MSA artefacts at 235 ka (Wendorf
blades are remarkable in their length, et al., 1994). The large numbers and careful
thinness and ﬂatness (Figure 4). The design of points in the retouched component
Kapthurin Formation blades demonstrate of many MSA assemblages, and the relative
the presence of a fully conceptualized, well- lack of emphasis on scrapers, are major
executed method of blade production, and diﬀerences between the African MSA and
high level of technical competence in East the classic Mousterian of southwestern
Africa before 280 ka. France. For this reason, the Lower and
Middle Paleolithic typologies of Bordes Still Bay points at Blombos, South Africa
(1961) and Debenath Dibble (1994) are
´ seems likewise to indicate a hunting station
not useful in describing most African MSA or a specialized production encampment
industries, particularly those from south of (Henshilwood Sealy, n.d.).
the Sahara. It is now clear that bone points Retouched points from sites throughout
also are characteristic of some African MSA Africa are the appropriate size for projec-
industries. This diﬀerence between the tiles; they are carefully made, thin, and
African and European records renders it symmetrical. Further, points made on end
important to understand the manner of and corner struck ﬂakes from Botswana and
use and the stylistic implications of MSA Zimbabwe show deliberate shaping to create
points. equal distribution of mass around the
Hafting was probably routine in most midline, suggesting aerodynamic design
MSA contexts. MSA points are often (Yellen, personal communication). While
deliberately modiﬁed to facilitate hafting these may have been used to arm the busi-
either by thinning at the butt, or, in the case ness end of stabbing or throwing spears,
of Aterian points, by the fabrication of a they could also have been delivered by bow
tang. While seldom preserved in the and arrow. The small size of some late MSA
archaeological record, vegetable gums are points (e.g., Gresham Brandt, 1996) in
frequent in the African ethnographic record particular suggest their use with bow and
as a hafting medium, and traces of mastic arrow. Western European points frequently
have been found on a blade in MSA level E lack basal thinning to facilitate hafting, or
at Apollo 11 (Wendt, 1976; Vogelsang, the impact scars indicating use as spears
1998). described by Shea (1988) for the Levantine
Many MSA points were most likely used Mousterian. In the late Mousterian of
to dispatch game. Milo (1998) has reported eastern Europe (e.g., Marks Chabai,
a point tip embedded in a cervical vertebra 1996) and Portugal (Marks Brugal, 2000)
of the large bovid, Pelorovis [see Figure 8(a)] there are pointed forms which may indeed
as well as a similar puncture wound in an have served as hafted projectiles, but these
eland thoracic vertebra from MSA deposits appear to postdate 60 ka. It is tempting to
at Klasies River, South Africa. Impact scars surmise that this late ﬂowering of point
have been observed on MSA points from a technology in eastern Europe reﬂects a bow
number of African sites, including [Gi, wave eﬀect, the result of contact with
Botswana, and Blombos, South Africa hominids to the east and south, who had
(Kuman, 1989; Henshilwood Sealy, n.d.). possessed this technology for many tens of
Wendorf Schild (1993) have argued that thousands of years.
the points from the Lake Ziway region of
Ethiopia show signs of use as cutting and
scraping tools. Kuman (1989), however, has Social organization
demonstrated that points from [Gi were
highly curated tools that performed many Regional variety in MSA points
functions, including cutting, over their long The diversiﬁcation of MSA toolkits and the
life spans. The importation of ﬁnished varying proportions of diﬀerent artefact
Nubian points to Sodmein Cave, Egypt (van classes at diﬀerent sites no doubt reﬂect
Peer et al., 1996; van Peer, 1998) would regional traditions as well as diﬀerent extrac-
seem to indicate use of the site as a special tive activities. Points comprise the single
purpose hunting station, and the large functionally equivalent class of artefacts that
numbers of ﬁnished pressure ﬂaked foliate best reﬂects regional diﬀerences, and signals
498 . . .
Figure 5. Map of distribution of point styles in the African MSA (after Clark, 1993, Figure 1). Sally
McBrearty Alison S. Brooks.
the presence of regional styles (Figure 5). tools produced by a variety of craftsmen
Projectile points have traditionally been (Wiessner, 1982, 1983). This contributes to
used by archaeologists to deﬁne later prehis- abrupt discontinuities in projectile point
toric industries worldwide. They are thought style that coincide with the boundaries of the
to encode stylistic information for their ethnic groups within which projectiles are
makers for two reasons: (1) point design is exchanged. Such geographic patterning of
tightly constrained by aerodynamic and form in functionally equivalent artefacts has
hafting requirements, and therefore success- been seen as the archaeological signature of
ful designs tend to be closely replicated style, however it is construed (Sackett,
(Wilmsen, 1974; Knecht, 1993); (2) within 1977, 1982, 1990; Wobst, 1977; Hodder,
groups, sharing or exchange of projectile 1985; Conkey, 1990). On the whole, there is
points imposes design limits. Ethnographi- not a high degree of variability in the Middle
cally, individuals have been observed to Paleolithic of western Europe, where
continue to manufacture projectiles long pointed forms are rare (Chase Dibble,
after their declining eyesight, reﬂexes, and 1987).
endurance have diminished their own suc- What is the patterning of point styles in
cess as hunters. Among the !Kung and other the African MSA? For most of Africa, we do
people, projectiles are provided to successful not have data that are suﬃciently ﬁne-
hunters in exchange for a claim on the meat grained to construct detailed local maps
(Yellen, 1977; Lee, 1979). Thus, the maker that reveal the kind of stylistic boundaries
must conform to a familiar template so that known from the ethnographic record. On
the hunter will be able to perform with a continent-wide scale, however, regional
styles can be recognized (Figure 5). The Of these, the Still Bay (Goodwin, 1928),
Aterian is characterized by projectile points Howiesons Poort (Stapleton Hewitt,
and other artefacts with a carefully crafted 1927, 1928), and perhaps the Bambata
tang for hafting. It occurs in North Africa at (Armstrong, 1931) and Pietersburg indus-
about 20 –15 N, from Morocco in the west tries (Mason, 1962, 1993) seem to have
to the western desert of Egypt in the east clear regional and chronological speciﬁcity.
(Debenath, 1994; Kleindienst, 2000b). The
´ Although the term Still Bay was subse-
Nubian complex, containing truncated and quently appropriated for use as far aﬁeld as
facetted Nazlet Khater points, occurs in the Kenya and Zambia (Leakey, 1931; Cooke
Nile Valley (van Peer, 1991, 1998). The Paterson, 1960), the Still Bay as originally
Lupemban industry is found in the greater deﬁned by Goodwin van Riet Lowe
Congo basin as far south as Namibia (1929) is conﬁned to the southern Cape
(MacCalman Viereck, 1967) and as far coast of South Africa. It contains a variety of
east as the Lake Victoria region. It is char- pointed forms, but the elongated ‘‘willow
acterized by lanceolate points, some of leaf’’ Still Bay points are highly distinctive
which are thin, skillfully made, and may and limited to the Cape region. They are
exceed 30 cm in length (McBrearty, 1988). characterized by shallow invasive retouch,
Foliates, narrow foliates, and triangular and are usually executed on good quality
points, both unifacial and bifacial, are found raw materials including chert, quartzite and
at East African Rift Valley sites. silcrete. While the industry is known from a
In the absence of a ﬁrm chronology, it is number of surface occurrences and early
impossible to distinguish chronological from excavations, the only excavated sample
geographical eﬀects, but the impression is of from secure context is that reported by
pronounced stylistic variation within the Henshilwood Sealy (1997) from the site
MSA of East Africa. Clark (1988: 297) notes of Blombos, where 52% of the retouched
that to the extent that stylistic diﬀerences can tools are bifacial points.
be recognized in the MSA of the Horn, The Howiesons Poort industry, contain-
ing small, well-retouched unifacial and
‘‘these might be the preferential forms repre-
sented by the markedly subtriangular points at bifacial foliate points, as well as backed
Gorgora, the pointed leaf-shaped forms at Proc geometrics, may extend over a wider region
Epic and Gademotta, [and] the Levallois of southern Africa than the Still Bay. While
points at Midhishi’’. it is concentrated at sites on the Cape, such
Late MSA points of the Horn are very as Klasies River (Singer Wymer, 1982;
distinctive and can be distinguished from Deacon, 1989; Deacon Wurz, 1996;
those of Kenya and Tanzania by Wurz, 1997, 1999) or Montagu Cave
their increasing elongation and small size (Keller, 1973), materials from Apollo 11
(Clark, 1954; Gresham, 1984; Brandt, rock shelter on the Namibia–South Africa
1986; Gresham Brandt, 1996). In East border (Wendt, 1972, 1976; Vogelsang,
and Central Africa, MSA points have a 1996, 1998), Cave of Hearths in the
great antiquity. At Mumba Rock Shelter, Transvaal, and Border Cave on the
Tanzania, they date to as early as 130 ka Zululand–Swaziland border (Mason, 1962,
(Mehlman, 1989, 1991) and to about 1993; Beaumont et al., 1978; Beaumont,
230 ka at Twin Rivers, Zambia (Barham 1980) have also been attributed to the
Smart, 1996), and Gademotta and Howiesons Poort. As yet, no Howiesons
Kukuleti, Ethiopia (Wendorf et al., 1994). Poort occurrences are known from Namibia
Within South Africa a number of MSA north of Apollo 11, or from Botswana. Early
variants were deﬁned by early workers. industries with backed segments and MSA
500 . . .
points are known from Zimbabwe (Cooke,
1971) and from Tanzania (Mehlman,
1989), but these appear to be somewhat
later in time and do not contain the full
array of features described for the South
African Cape Province Howiesons Poort
The Pietersburg industry is centered in
Gauteng, but it is not well dated (but see
Miller et al., 1991). It is characterized by Figure 6. MSA geometric microliths; top row, Klasies
elongated points on blades, more often uni- River Howiesonspoort, after Wurz (1997); bottom row,
facial than bifacial, and with trimming con- Mumba Industry, Mumba Rock Shelter, level V, after
Mehlman (1989). Sally McBrearty.
ﬁned to the periphery (Mason, 1962).7 A
common form is a long foliate unifacial
point with ventral bulbar reduction. The
Bambata industry of Zambia, Zimbabwe, 1974) in length are termed microliths. The
Namibia, and Botswana is distinguished by resulting small tools are usually mounted in
short, broad foliate and triangular points, multiples as components of complex com-
both unifacial and bifacial, with retouch posite implements, such as arrows or cutting
ranging from marginal to invasive (Kuman, tools. They are an advance over simple
1989). It is dated at [Gi by TL and AAR ﬂakes and blades in terms of raw material
on ostrich eggshell to 70–80 ka (Brooks economy, and they clearly signal a modern
et al., 1990; Franklin Hornyak, n.d.). In approach to technology. They facilitate
brief, the African MSA is characterized by retooling, as damaged segments can be
well-diﬀerentiated regional point styles, and replaced without overhauling the entire
points in tropical Africa predate any known implement. They are unknown in Europe
from Europe by tens of thousands of years. prior to the Uluzzian industry of peninsular
Italy, dated to ca. 35 ka, and do not become
common or widespread in Europe until after
Technology 20 ka (Palma di Cesnola, 1993; d’Errico
Geometric macroliths and microliths et al., 1998).
Backing or blunting of the edges of artefacts In Africa, geometric microliths are the
is a form of retouch characteristic of Upper hallmark of the LSA. The sequence at
Paleolithic and Mesolithic industries of Late Mumba Rock Shelter, Tanzania, documents
Pleistocene and Holocene Europe. It is the ﬁrst appearance of this technology in
usually performed on blades and is con- East Africa. In the Mumba industry in lower
sidered a feature of mode 4 technology. In Bed V (Figure 6, bottom row), the earliest
the European Mesolithic and Neolithic, geometrics are rare, macrolithic, and made
small tools were produced by backing blades on ﬂakes from Levallois or radial cores.
or blade segments to create standardized Later in Bed V, the geometrics increase in
geometric shapes, including triangles, tra- number, decrease to microlithic size, and are
pezes, and crescents (mode 5 technology). made on blades (Mehlman, 1989). Both
Backed segments 20 mm (e.g., Andrefsky, U-series and AAR dates indicate an age of
1998) or 30 mm (Clark Kleindienst, 65 ka from Middle to Upper Bed V for the
appearance of geometric microliths at
7. The Later Pietersburg industry (e.g. Cave of
Hearths Bed 9) contains backed crescents, and may be Mumba (Mehlman, 1989; Brooks et al.,
attributed to the LSA or the Howiesons Poort. 1993b).
In South Africa, geometrics appear assemblages to have been made by popu-
somewhat earlier, in the Howiesons Poort lations with diﬀerent technological tra-
industry (Figure 6, top row). Goodwin ditions (Singer Wymer, 1982), later
Van Riet Lowe (1929) ﬁrst described the investigators have seen them as the product
Howiesons Poort on the basis of material of shifting territorial organization, raw
reported by Stapleton Hewitt (1927, material acquisition, and symbolic signaling
1928) from the type site near the Cape coast (Ambrose Lorenz, 1990; Wurz, 1997,
of South Africa. Like the Mumba industry, 1999; Deacon Deacon, 1999).
the Howiesons Poort contains items charac- Radiocarbon dates available in the 1960s
teristic of both the MSA and the LSA. seemed to indicate that the Howiesons
MSA elements include unifacial or bifacial Poort should be incorporated within the
foliate or lanceolate points, sometimes with LSA (Klein, 1971). A late date was con-
faceted butts that are ventrally trimmed, as sidered reasonable when modern human
well as scrapers and burins made on ﬂakes remains were recovered in possible associ-
or blades produced from single platform, ation with Howiesons Poort artefacts at
double platform, radial, and irregular cores. Border Cave (Cooke et al., 1945; Malan,
Features more common to LSA industries 1955; Mason, 1962; Sampson, 1974) and at
are the small size of the artefacts overall Peers (Skildergat) Cave (Keith, 1931; Jolly,
(often 30 mm), a greater reliance on exotic 1948; Anthony, 1967), though elemental
ﬁne grained raw materials, and the presence analysis now indicates that the Peers Cave
of geometrics. Singer Wymer (1982) and material represents an intrusive burial
Wurz (1997) declare that the Klasies River (Sillen, personal communication). New age
Howiesons Poort blades are punch-struck, a estimates for Howiesons Poort occurrences
feature characteristic of European Upper have generated debate because they involve
Paleolithic blades, but they report no exper- experimental dating methods and rely upon
imental basis for this observation, and as the correctness of detailed depositional,
Ambrose Lorenz (1990) remark, distin- postdepositional, and climatic reconstruc-
guishing blades struck with a punch from tions, and inferred correlations with the
those produced by soft hammer presents a global marine isotopic record. However,
diﬃcult challenge (cf. Bordes Crabtree, out of recent dating eﬀorts has emerged a
1969). consensus that the age of the industry is
The Howiesons Poort was considered a 60–70 ka.
possible ‘‘transitional’’ industry between At Boomplaas, a series of 22 radiocarbon
the MSA and LSA, but subsequent exca- dates established that the Howiesons Poort
vations have shown that the Howiesons is 49 ka (Deacon, 1989). AAR dates on
Poort is interstratiﬁed within the MSA at a ostrich eggshell from the Howiesons Poort
number of sites in South Africa, including at Klasies River range in age from 80 ka at
Klasies River (layers 10–21 in shelter 1A the bottom of the sequence to 65 ka at the
and in layers 1–5 in cave 2) (Singer top; application of the same method at
Wymer, 1982; Deacon et al., 1984; Deacon, Boomplaas yielded an age estimate for the
1989), Boomplaas, (member OCH) Howiesons Poort there of 72–80 ka (Brooks
(Deacon, 1979, 1989), Montagu Cave et al., 1991, 1993a; Miller et al., 1993,
(layer 2) (Keller, 1973), and Border Cave 1999). Judging from the dates, together with
(layer III) (Beaumont, 1973b; Butzer, 1978; faunal and geomorphological evidence,
Beaumont et al., 1978). While the exca- Deacon (1989: 554) places the Howiesons
vators of Klasies River considered the inter- Poort levels at both sites at ca. 70 ka, near
stratiﬁed MSA and Howiesons Poort the end of the last Interglacial (oxygen
502 . . .
isotope stage 5a-4). ESR dates for the into segments before backing. Singer
Howiesons Poort at Border Cave range from Wymer (1982, cited by Wurz, 1999) point
45 5 to 75 5 ka, with a mean of 62 ka out 18 examples of the microburin tech-
(Schwarcz Grun, 1993a; Grun et al.,
¨ ¨ nique, in which a notch is made to facilitate
1990), but initial analyses of protein dia- snapping the blade. Notches on the
genesis in ostrich eggshell from Howiesons unbacked edge are found on 19·4% of the
Poort levels at the same site indicated an age backed artefacts in Wurz’s (1999) sample,
of 70 ka (Miller et al., 1993, 1999), and and she interprets this as evidence for
analysis of the micromammals suggested a hafting and binding.
timespan similar to that at Klasies River Volman (1984) considers Howiesons
(Thackeray Avery, 1990). Miller et al. Poort geometrics to be projectile armatures,
(1999) report a new series of isoleucine while Deacon (1989) believes that in view of
epimerization dates on ostrich eggshell for their relatively large size in comparison to
Howiesons Poort occurrences at Border LSA examples, they may have functioned as
Cave, Klasies River, Boomplaas, and Apollo barbs for spears. For nearly all ESA and
11, ranging between 56 and 80 ka. They MSA artefacts, function is a matter of con-
conclude that a reasonable age estimate for jecture, usually unsupported by usewear or
the industry is 66 5 ka. other direct evidence. But because geo-
Parkington (1990) is in the minority in metric microliths remained in use until
arguing for a shorter chronology and seems recent times, there is good archaeological
to be in error in favoring an age for the and ethnographic evidence that they were
Howiesons Poort of between 50 ka and used as arrow armatures, both for hunting
35 ka. Interestingly, however, he stresses the and in warfare. Arrow shafts with the micro-
diﬀerences between pre-Howiesons Poort lithic armatures still in place have been
(‘‘MSA 1 and 2’’ or ‘‘Pietersburg’’) and recovered in Europe from Mesolithic,
post-Howiesons Poort (‘‘MSA 3 and 4’’ or Epipaleolithic, and Neolithic contexts
‘‘Bambatan’’) assemblages, and questions (Rust, 1943; Clark, 1951, 1952; Rozoy,
the MSA aﬃliation of the post-Howiesons 1985; Fischer, 1985) and in Egypt from
Poort material. As Thackeray (1992) points dynastic tombs (Clark et al., 1974).
out, if Parkington is correct, and industries Nineteenth-century southern African ethno-
overlying the Howiesons Poort are identiﬁed graphic examples are described by Clark
as LSA, then the Howiesons Poort may et al. (1976). Clark et al. (1974) remark
indeed play a role in the ‘‘transition’’ to the upon the striking similarity between the
LSA. Further, if current age estimates for South African and Egyptian arrow designs;
the Howiesons Poort are accurate, then in both, microliths were generally mounted
the time range of the LSA is consid- with mastic, often in pairs, and in some
erably lengthened, and the ‘‘time lag’’ that cases treated with poison. As shown by
Klein (1992) imputes between the appear- Rozoy (1985) and Fischer (1985), a set of
ance of H. sapiens and the LSA is much paired armatures mounted behind the point
reduced. enlarges its cutting edge, thereby increasing
Wurz (1997, 1999; Deacon Wurz, the size of the laceration. Wurz (1997) cites
1996) has conducted a detailed analysis of experimental work (Friss-Hansen, 1990;
Howiesons Poort material from Cave 2 at Nuzhnyi, 1990) which demonstrates the
Klasies River. She ﬁnds that the geometrics eﬀectiveness of this technique in wounding
are generally manufactured on whole blades, animals and in preventing damage to the
though others (e.g., Thackeray, 1989) have armature. Furthermore, microwear on
suggested that the blades were snapped replicated geometrics hafted in this way is
consistent with observed microwear on since the days of Lartet Christy (1869–
Howiesons Poort segments (Harper, 1994; 1875). Large bones were sometimes ﬂaked
Wurz, 1997). in the same way as stone by Oldowan tool
Coeﬃcients of variation for microlith makers (Leakey, 1971b), and Blackwell
dimensions reported by Wurz (1997) show d’Errico (2000) claim that Pliocene homi-
that the Howiesons Poort geometrics are as nids at Sterkfontein and Swartkrans were
standardized as their LSA counterparts and using bone shaft fragments to raid termite
therefore appear to have been manufactured mounds. Formal techniques of bone-
to speciﬁc design parameters. With mean working, however, are generally agreed to
lengths of about 30–45 mm, the backed have been signiﬁcant to late human evolu-
geometrics of the Mumba and Howiesons tion, though it is not clear why carving and
Poort industries (Keller, 1973; Volman, polishing a bone point should be beyond the
1984; Wurz, 1997) are larger than those of capabilities of the maker of a Levallois ﬂake.
typical LSA microliths, usually c25 mm Even within the European Upper Paleo-
(Deacon, 1984), but their size is comparable lithic, however, bone tools are not common
to that of northern European Epipaleolithic compared to retouched stone tools. At Abri
armatures (Rust, 1943; Rozoy, 1985). As Pataud, France, for example, in all four of
Rozoy (1985) points out, however, the the early and basal Aurignacian levels com-
critical size property for an armature is not bined, there are only three fragmentary
its linear dimensions, but its weight, usually possible split-base bone points, whereas
10 g for European examples. Published there are 900 retouched stone tools and
weights are not available for African geo- thousands of bones and bone fragments
metrics, and it is not known how many, (Brooks, 1995). A few sites with hundreds of
mounted together, would comprise a single worked bone objects like Castanet, France,
armature. The heavier Howiesons Poort seem to have served as ‘‘factory sites,’’ but
or Mumba industry geometrics may have many Aurignacian sites have no bone
been used in cutting implements or in artefacts at all (White, 1992).
stabbing or throwing weapons, but they Perhaps bone working is intimately tied to
would also have been suitable for arming the development of projectile technology,
an arrow that would perhaps have traveled which would explain why it is present in the
less than the 20–50 m usual for arrows African MSA. Until recently, only a few
propelled by the bow (Rozoy, 1985). Such bone artefacts were known from MSA con-
arrows may have been unﬂetched; Clark texts, and these were widely discounted as
et al. (1974) observe that among their late aberrations or the result of stratigraphic
Egyptian dynastic sample, lighter arrows are admixture. In North Africa, polished bone
ﬂetched, while heavier ones are without tools have been reported from Aterian con-
ﬂetching. Whatever the details of their text from the site of Grotte d’el Mnasra,
design, the Mumba and Howiesons Poort Morocco (Hajraoui, 1994). The relatively
microliths support the presence of com- informal assemblage of pointed bone
posite projectiles in Africa by 65 ka, about objects associated with the Khormusan
30,000 years earlier than they are found in was formerly thought to date to ca. 18–23 ka
Europe. (Wendorf et al., 1965), but it has now been
redated to 40 ka, and possibly to 60 ka,
Bone tools bringing the Khormusan ﬁrmly into the time
The shaping of bone and other organic range of similar MSA industries (Marks,
materials into points, awls, and other tools 1968; Wendorf Schild, 1992; Marks,
has been a hallmark of the Upper Paleolithic personal communication).
504 . . .
In southern Africa, a bone point was are all associated with a distinctive paleosol
among the artefacts recovered from the site that crops out along a 1 km long exposure in
of Kabwe, Zambia (Clark, 1959), though the cliﬀs above the Semliki River. At each
the question of its association with the homi- site, the MSA horizon containing the bone
nid, faunal remains and stone artefacts is points is overlain by 3–5 m of ﬂuvial and
unresolved. The age of Kabwe was formerly colluvial deposits, up to three distinct
estimated at 125 ka on the basis of an early paleosols, a massive capping ash, and a
AAR date of 110 ka (Bada et al., 1974) and Holocene soil. The Katanda sites are dated
faunal comparison with Olduvai Bed IV to ca. 90 ka by a variety of techniques,
(Klein, 1973), but recent recalibration of the including TL and OSL on sands above the
Olduvai sequence (Hay, 1990; Manega, MSA occurrences, ESR and U-Series on
1993; Tamrat et al., 1995; Walter et al., tooth enamel recovered from the MSA
1991, 1992; Kimbel, 1995; White, 2000) horizon at Kt-9, and AAR on mollusc shells
suggests an age 780 ka for the material (see and ostrich eggshells from horizons both
Table 1). Possible ‘‘daggers’’ of wart hog above and below the MSA levels at a
tusk probably dating to ca. 80 ka have been number of sampling localities. Dates for
reported from the Howiesons Poort levels at the MSA occupations containing the bone
Border Cave (Beaumont, 1978, Volman, points range from 82+8 ka (T/L) to
1984), though their artefactual nature is 174+1 ka (U-series); all suggest a minimum
open to question. age in excess of 75 ka. A recent redating
Singer Wymer (1982) describe a thin eﬀort by OSL on multiple aliquots from
cylindrical bone point from Howiesons seven additional samples of the sands
Poort layer 19 in Shelter 1A at Klasies River, overlying the MSA layer conﬁrms the orig-
dated by several techniques to 65–80 ka inal age estimate (Feathers Migliorini,
(Bada Deems, 1975; Deacon et al., 1986; 2000).
Deacon Geleijnse, 1988; Deacon, 1989; Initially, objections were raised to the
Grun et al., 1990). The excavators them-
¨ MSA associations of the Katanda points
selves expressed skepticism at this unique because bone points are known from the
ﬁnd (Singer Wymer, 1982: 115), and nearby late Pleistocene site of Ishango (de
it has been dismissed as intrusive (e.g., Heinzelein, 1957, 1962; Brooks Smith,
Volman, 1984). The point, however, was 1987). The stratigraphic conditions and
excavated from ‘‘compressed, laminated consistent associations described here
levels that showed not the slightest sign of clearly rule out the possibility of Holocene
disturbance’’, and the color and condition of intrusion. The Katanda bone points are
the point are described as similar to other associated with MSA artefacts at three dif-
bones in the Howiesons Poort levels, and ferent sites. At no locality is the MSA
quite unlike those from the LSA middens material overlain by LSA assemblages from
(Singer Wymer, 1982:115). which the points could have been derived.
Evidence from three MSA sites at Indeed LSA sites of younger (Ishangian) age
Katanda, D. R. Congo, indicates that the are located on a terrace ca. 20 m lower in the
Klasies bone artefact is not an isolated modern landscape. There are no anomalous
phenomenon. At Katanda, a series of elements in the MSA assemblages, such as
barbed and unbarbed bone points has been microliths, that would indicate LSA
recovered from secure stratigraphic context admixture. The degree of mineralization of
[Brooks et al., 1995; Yellen et al., 1995; the Katanda points resembles that of non-
Yellen, 1998; see Figure 7(a), (b)]. The artefactual bone from the MSA occupation,
three occurrences, Kt-2, Kt-9, and Kt-16, which represents several locally extinct
Figure 7. Bone points of the African MSA. (a) Katanda 16 and Katanda 9 (after Yellen et al., 1995),
Alison S. Brooks; (b) detail of point from Katanda 9. Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution;
(c) Blombos Stillbay level, after Henshilwood Sealey, 1997, ﬁgure 7, photo courtesy of Chris
species. Even if the Katanda faunas repre- whereas the Katanda points have a series of
sent secondary accumulations of consider- basal grooves [Figure 7(b)]. Experimental
able duration, as suggested by Klein (1999: work (Krupsha, 1993) shows that while a
439, 2000; but see Yellen, 1996), their backward facing notch will retain the line
minimum age is none the less limited by the when such a point is used as a harpoon,
age of the capping sands. There are also grooves are insuﬃcient for the purpose.
stylistic diﬀerences between the Ishango late Thus, while the late Pleistocene Ishango
Pleistocene and the Katanda MSA bone bone points were probably designed for use
points, particularly in the manner in which as harpoons, those from the Katanda MSA
they were hafted. The Ishango points are sites may have functioned as spear points.
smaller, and have a backward facing notch The unique character of the Katanda
at the base to secure the line from slipping, bone points may not be surprising, given the
506 . . .
absence in Central Africa of comparable single unbarbed bone point. A series of bone
excavated sites of this age with associated harpoons and other bone tools lie in LSA
fauna in similar riparian settings. Yellen deposits at about 3 m below the surface. A
(1998) has suggested, however, that this large sample of ostrich eggshell fragments
phenomenon may be due to an MSA social from deposits higher in the sequence, from
landscape of small, relatively isolated popu- depths ranging between 3 m and 1·5 m,
lations that is without parallel in historic have been dated by AMS 14C and AAR to
times. The idea of bone armatures is not between ca. 33 and 37 ka. The transitional
unique to the MSA inhabitants of the Congo level itself is dated to 38–50 ka by a variety
Basin. Recent discoveries elsewhere on the of techniques (Robbins et al., 1994; Robbins
continent conﬁrm the presence of bone Murphy, 1998; Kokis et al., 1998;
points and other bone tools in the MSA. Robbins, 1999; Robbins et al., under
At Blombos cave in the southern Cape review). It is regrettable that faunal preser-
Province of South Africa, retouched stone vation is poor in the lower levels at White
projectile points and other MSA artefacts Paintings Shelter, and that bone artefacts
have been recovered in sealed context in have not been found here in MSA context.
association with well preserved fauna and However, it is signiﬁcant that a bone point,
a series of 21 worked bone objects. dating to 30 ka, has been recovered from
These include two cylindrical bone points the ‘‘transitional MSA/LSA’’ occurrence.
[Figure 7(c)] that are clearly intentionally The bone artefacts from Blombos and
shaped by symmetrical grinding and polish- Katanda together ﬁrmly document bone
ing. The other bone objects include two working in the Middle Stone Age, and sup-
‘‘awls,’’ a possible peg, and a ﬂat piece with port the MSA associations of previously
parallel incisions made by a stone tool that reported ﬁnds, such as those from Klasies
may represent either a decorative image or a river and Border Cave. Dates from White
utilitarian object [see Figure 10(a)]. Analysis Paintings Shelter conﬁrm an antiquity for
of carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratios shows bone points in the LSA that considerably
that the points and other bone tools are closes the gap between the Katanda and
unequivocally derived from the same hor- Blombos points on the one hand, and the
izon as the MSA fauna. Initial age estimates widespread African bone working industries
derived from multiple techniques indicated known from after 25 ka on the other (de
a minimum age of 72 ka (Henshilwood Heinzelein, 1957; 1962; Sutton, 1974,
Sealy, 1997, n.d.). The Holocene and 1977; Barthelme, 1985; Brooks Smith,
MSA levels at Blombos are separated by a 1987; Yellen, 1998). This evidence suggests
layer of sterile sand 10–20 cm thick, for continuous development of a bone working
which recent OSL analyses indicate an tradition with origins well back in the
age of ca. 73 ka (Henshilwood, personal Pleistocene.
Another set of data supporting early bone
working in Africa is a series of barbed points
from White Paintings Shelter in the Tsodilo Hunting
Hills of northern Botswana. Here the MSA Increased intensiﬁcation in resource use,
occurrence at the base of the sequence, at greater planning depth, and seasonal
depths exceeding 4 m, is overlain by a ‘‘tran- scheduling of hunting and ﬁshing are fre-
sitional MSA/LSA’’ horizon, at a depth of quently cited elements of the ‘‘human
3·5 m, containing large blades, faunal revolution’’ (e.g., Mellars Stringer, 1989;
remains including ﬁsh and mammals, and a Nitecki Nitecki, 1989). In contrast, MSA
people have been portrayed as scavengers from which the most valued elements
(Binford, 1981, 1984), or as less eﬀective have already been consumed by primary
hunters than their LSA successors (Klein, carnivores. Decisions by human hunters
1976, 1978, 1989a; 1992, 1994, 1995, about which carcass parts to transport to
1998, 1999, 2000). camp and which to abandon at the kill site
Much of the debate revolves around the reﬂect carcass part utility, as well as daily
species composition, body part represen- contingencies not visible in the archaeologi-
tation, age proﬁles, and position of cutmarks cal record (Perkins Daly, 1968; Klein
in the MSA faunal collection from Klasies et al., 1999). Further, limb bones are known
River, compared to LSA remains from to have been processed for marrow ex-
nearby Nelson Bay Cave. Marean Assefa traction from the earliest times (Bunn et al.,
(1999), noting that a signiﬁcant portion of 1980; Bunn, 1981, 1989; Blumenschine,
the Klasies River fauna was discarded by the 1987; Blumenschine Selvaggio, 1991),
original escavators as unidentiﬁable (Singer resulting in fragmentation of the shafts.
Wymer, 1982), have suggested setting These elements may be further damaged by
the material aside and concentrating on subsequent taphonomic processes that typi-
studies of unbiased collections. Neverthe- cally destroy limb bone ends with greater
less, Klasies River continues to dominate the severity than shafts. Unfortunately, early
debate, despite the fact that its location on excavators often regarded shafts as non-
the Cape coast of South Africa, the conti- identiﬁable and discarded them, as they
nent’s most southern extremity, is not did at Klasies River. In an elegant recent
representative of Africa as a whole, and that study, Marean has convincingly shown by
open air sites present a diﬀerent picture painstaking reﬁtting of the MSA bone
from that seen for caves. Nor does the assemblage from Layer 10 in Cave 1 at Die
Klasies sequence record the early MSA or Kelders, South Africa, that high utility limb
the MSA-LSA transition. Rather, at many bones are not absent, just better represented
sites in the southern Cape there appears by the shafts as opposed to the ends. When
to be an occupational hiatus of 40 ka to minimum numbers of elements are based on
20 ka duration between the MSA and the the shafts, the skeletal element represen-
LSA, which creates an impression of dra- tation is consistent with early access to
matic behavioral changes when earlier and carcasses, and thus with a hunting, not a
later sites are compared. scavenging, adaptation (Marean, 1998;
Here we refute three assertions about Marean Kim, 1998; Bartram Marean,
hunting behavior in the MSA: (1) that 1999; Marean Assefa, 1999; Marean
hunting was not practiced at all; (2) that et al., 2000).
dangerous species were not hunted on a Cutmark evidence also supports MSA
regular basis; (3) that hunters did not focus hunting. Despite the assertions of Binford
upon prime age adults. We will also describe (1984), there is evidence for neither
instances of specialization on a single prey carnivore damage prior to hominid acqui-
species in the MSA. sition nor for the accumulation of carcasses
The arguments against the practice of by carnivores at Klasies River (Klein, 1999;
hunting in the MSA commonly rely upon Klein et al., 1999). A detailed analysis of
relative element abundance and the position assemblage composition, breakage and
of cutmarks. The underrepresentation of traces of butchery and carnivore ravaging on
meaty limb elements in MSA faunal the fauna from Cave 1 at Klasies River
assemblages has been taken to imply late performed by Milo (1998) leads him to
access to carcasses, that is, scavenging kills conclude,
508 . . .
‘‘In the KRM faunal assemblage . . . abundant 1994). Klein (1976, 1978, 1989a, 1992,
butchering marks on upper hindquarters and 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999) argues, primarily
forequarters indicate that the hominids
from comparisons of species composition
enjoyed early access to carcasses in all size
classes’’ and age proﬁles in MSA (Klasies River, Die
Kelders, Border Cave) vs LSA (Nelson Bay
(Milo, 1998: 124). In East Africa, at MSA Cave) assemblages, that MSA hunters did
sites at Lukenya Hill, Kenya, Marean not often hunt dangerous animals and rarely
(1997) has observed low frequencies of car- brought down prime age adults. However,
nivore involvement and an abundance of there is good evidence that MSA hunters did
cutmarks and percussion marks indicating not conﬁne themselves to docile prey species
‘‘that people were the primary accumulators or to juvenile targets. It seems likely that the
of these assemblages’’ (Marean, 1997: 210). artefact fragment embedded in a cervical
Conscious selection of a single prey vertebra from MSA levels at Klasies River
species is seen as a sign of modern human [Figure 8(a); Milo, 1998] represents the
behavior (Mellars, 1989a,b; but see Chase, weapon used to dispatch the animal,
1989; Stiner, 1994; and Mellars, 1996 although Marean Assefa (1999) question
for prey selectivity among Neanderthals). whether it might have become lodged there
Lieberman Shea (1994) have argued that during butchery. The vertebra is that of an
seasonal patterning in faunal use is one of adult Pelorovis (size class 5) (Milo, 1998), an
the few characteristics that distinguish the animal for which Klein (1976) estimates
occupation sites attributed to H. sapiens body weight at 900 kg. Pelorovis’ modern
from those attributed to Neanderthals in the descendant, Syncerus caﬀer, though signiﬁ-
Levant. There are severals examples of cantly smaller, is regarded as one of the most
hunting selectivity in the MSA. In South dangerous game animals in Africa. Among
Africa, Klein (1989a, 1994) has suggested the modern Jun/wasi, an individual who
that the catastrophic age proﬁle for eland at takes two large animals (size class 3 or
Klasies River and other MSA sites indicates greater) per year is considered a successful
tactical or intercept hunting of entire herds. hunter (Lee, 1979).
In East Africa, at the MSA site of GvJm-46 Evidence at the MSA site of [Gi, in the
at Lukenya Hill, Kenya (Miller, 1979; Kalahari desert of Botswana, dated to 77 ka,
Marean, 1992), the focus on a single prey also appears to represent deliberate hunt-
species (a small extinct alcelaphine bovid) ing of dangerous game. Historically, the
the catastrophic mortality proﬁle, the seasonal pan adjacent to the sites has
palimpsest nature of the accumulation, been the locus of ambush hunting practices.
implying repeated kill events, and ‘‘the open Ethnographically, hunting from blinds was
location in a natural topographic trap’’ restricted to a few days per year, during the
(Marean, 1997: 217) combine to suggest full moon at the end of the rainy season,
repeated use as a tactical mass kill site. when the pan was the only local source of
There is some indication that this may water. More than 600 points were found in
have taken place during the annual game the MSA levels at [Gi, making up 41% of
migration. the retouched tools (n=1497). The fauna,
The opinion voiced most frequently is represented mainly by isolated teeth, is
that MSA people were ineﬀective hunters dominated by zebra (Equus burchelli and E.
when compared to their LSA successors. capensis), cape warthog (Phacochoeorus aethi-
The taking of large prey species and prime opicus), and large bovids including at least
age adults are regarded as signs of fully one individual Pelorovis (Helgren Brooks,
competent hunting ability (Stiner, 1990, 1983; Brooks Yellen, 1987; Kuman,
Figure 8. Faunal evidence for hunting and ﬁshing in the African MSA. (a) Stone point tip embedded in
bovid (Pelorovis) cervical vertebra, Klasies River (scale in mm) after Milo, 1998, Fig. 17; photo courtesy
of Richard Milo; (b) ﬁsh bones (Clarias) from Katanda 9 (scale in cm). Alison S. Brooks.
1989; Klein, personal communication). The gies of zebra render them notoriously
number of projectile points in the MSA diﬃcult to pursue. The location of the site
assemblage at [Gi indicates deliberate and the presence of game species that are
hunting, and the presence of species known water dependent supports an interpretation
to be large and aggressive shows competent of tactical hunting. This practice was prob-
hunting. Warthogs are particularly danger- ably even more eﬀective in the past, when
ous to human hunters, and the herd strate- water availability was more restricted than
510 . . .
at present (Crowell Hitchcock, 1978; about by population increase. In essence,
Brooks et al., 1980; Brooks Yellen, 1987). the situation faced by LSA peoples was
Klein, however, argues not on the basis of brought about by the success of preceding
presence or absence, but from relative MSA hunters and ﬁshers.
numbers. Warthog and buﬀalo, while not
absent at MSA sites, are outnumbered by
Ecology, economy and social
eland, and buﬀalo in some assemblages are
represented only by juveniles (but see Milo,
1998, cited above). The age structures and Aquatic and small-scale resource use
species compositions of the LSA assem- Whether deliberate ﬁshing was habitually
blages more closely approximates the living practised in the MSA has long been
communities thought to be present at the debated. In the absence of clear ﬁshing
time of occupation. Klein infers that MSA paraphernalia, it is diﬃcult to distinguish the
hunters were unable to take the more signature of human acquisition from those
dangerous animals regularly and were forced of other piscivores in nonanthropogenic
to concentrate upon the more tractable deposits. Deliberate procurement may
eland. He concludes that MSA hunters sometimes be inferred on the basis of
were deﬁcient not only technologically, but stratigraphic context or species’ known
also cognitively and socially. These argu- habitat preferences. Thus, the remains of
ments can be questioned on both empirical cichlid ﬁsh from White Paintings Shelter,
and theoretical grounds. Giﬀord-Gonzalez Botswana, are interpreted as the products of
(1991) has questioned Klein’s method for ﬁshing because they are found in eolian
estimating ruminant ages, and Marean sediments. OSL determinations indicate
Assefa (1999) point out the confound- that these date to 50–75 ka (Robbins et al.,
ing eﬀects of time averaging on the MSA 1994; Robbins Murphy, 1998; Robbins
assemblages, which accumulated over sub- et al. under review). Fish bones in the upper
stantially greater spans of time than the LSA horizon at Site 440 in the northern Sudan
assemblages. Minichillo Marean (2000) are explained as the product of deliberate
argue that the greater species richness of the ﬁshing because they are dominated by
LSA when compared to the MSA may be large deep-water species inconsistent with a
explained by the larger sample sizes for LSA riparian location. Likewise, at Bir Tarfawi,
fauna. More fundamentally, one might in the western desert of Egypt, several
wonder why one would query the intelli- faunal assemblages associated with Grey
gence of a hunter who chooses to pursue Lake Phases 1 and 2 include Nile perch,
the eland rather than the ornery buﬀalo! a deep, permanent water species (Wendorf
Marean Assefa (1999), Deacon (1984), Schild, 1992). In MSA levels at Blombos
and Bar-Yosef (1998) reject Klein’s contrast Cave, in the southern Cape province,
between LSA and MSA hunting behavior South Africa, faunal remains include not
as a sign of cognitive diﬀerences. A more only marine molluscs and small ﬁsh but also
satisfactory explanation is provided by large deep water ﬁsh including Cymatoceps
Deacon (1989) and Marean (Marean nasutus and Aries feliceps (Henshilwood
Assefa, 1999; Minichillo Marean, 2000), Sealy, 1997). Poeggenpoel (1999) argues
who suggest that the faunal diﬀerences seen that the taphonomy of the Blombos ﬁsh
between MSA and LSA represents a pro- bones, especially the apparently deliberate
gressive expansion of diet breadth. Less damage to the spines, is consistent with
preferred items were included in the diet as a human capture of live ﬁsh, and not with
response to increased competition brought scavenging or nonhuman predation. These
ﬁnds establish the competence of MSA which contains up to 600 g of lipids per kg
people at marine coastal ﬁshing, if not the (Broadhurst et al., 1998). Since marine
presence of watercraft. foods are particularly rich in such lipids,
Stewart (1989), from an analysis of East marine mammals face no such limitation
African LSA sites, provides a method for and can grow relatively larger and more
distinguishing human from nonhuman ﬁsh complex brains. Crawford et al. (1999)
exploitation patterns, based on body size, argue that access to marine foods was essen-
species ecology, and skeletal element rep- tial to the development of the modern
resentation. Application of this method to human brain, and that the evolution of H.
open-air river margin MSA sites at Katanda, sapiens took place at the land-water inter-
D. R. Congo, where bone points are found face. Use of rift valley ﬁsh, such as Clarias,
in association with the ﬁsh, suggests that, by which are especially rich in Omega-3 fatty
at least 75 ka, African hominids exploited acids, by MSA peoples suggests that this
large catﬁsh (Clarias) weighing more than adaptation, with its potential for improved
35 kg [Figure 8(b)]. All remains represent infant nutrition, survivorship and conse-
adult ﬁsh. The absence of other age classes quent population increase was already in
indicates that ﬁshing was carried out exclu- place by at least 80 ka.
sively at the beginning of the rainy season Deacon has held that subsistence behavior
when Clarias is known to spawn nearshore. in the MSA is indistinguishable from that in
This suggests that exploitation took place as the LSA, in part on the basis of the shellﬁsh
part of a specialized seasonal strategy, rather debris and plant remains. He maintains,
than on an ad hoc basis. Furthermore, the for example, that the charred lenses of
relative paucity of ﬁsh vertebrae implies that vegetal material in the Howiesons Poort
edible portions were separated from heads levels at Klasies River represent burnt geo-
at the site and removed to be consumed phyte residues. Ethnographically, geophyte
elsewhere (Brooks et al., 1995; Yellen et al., patches were sustained by controlled burn-
1995). Clearly MSA people were competent ing, which stimulates corm production.
hunters and ﬁshers who planned their The Klasies traces may therefore indicate
settlement choices around the seasonal environmental management and a reliance
availability of game and ﬁsh. on carbohydrate-rich plant foods that
Studies by Crawford and others (e.g., parallel Holocene practices (Deacon, 1985,
Crawford, 1992; Chamberlain, 1996; 1989, 1993a,b; Deacon Geleijnse, 1988;
Broadhurst et al., 1998; Crawford et al., Deacon Deacon, 1999). Intensive
1999) have shown that Omega-3 (or n-3) processing of plant foods is revealed by the
polyunsaturated fatty acids (long-chain general presence of grindstones at many
lipids with a ﬁrst double bond at the MSA sites, including Bir Tarfawi, Egypt;
carbon-3 position, counting from the methyl Katanda, D. R. Congo; [Gi, Botswana;
end) are essential to the developing brain and Mumbwa, Zambia (Wendorf et al.,
of young mammals. They suggest (e.g., 1993b; Brooks et al., 1995; Yellen et al.,
Crawford, 1992) that it is the limited avail- 1995; Brooks Yellen, 1987; Barham,
ability of such lipids in terrestrial foods 1998). This activity seems to have com-
which is primarily responsible for limiting menced in late Acheulian contexts at
the growth of the brain in terrestrial Kalambo Falls, Zambia (Clark, 1988) and
megafauna. These lipids, primarily docasa- in the Kapthurin Formation, Kenya.
hexaenoic and arachidonic acids, are The use of small scale resources, either
absent in plants and minimally present in aquatic or terrestrial, is usually viewed as a
terrestrial animals except for brain tissue, sign of economic intensiﬁcation. MSA
512 . . .
people were certainly capable of harvesting escargotiere at Mumba and the numbers of
small-scale resources and showed a taste for coastal African sites containing quantities
these food items. In North Africa, molluscs of shellﬁsh seem to indicate a more regu-
are present in the MSA levels at Haua lar intensive use of small scale resources in
Fteah, Libya (McBurney, 1967; Klein the MSA.
Scott, 1986), at Berard, Algeria (Roubet,
´ Klein (1989a, 1995, 1999) has contrasted
1966), and at Temara (Roche Texier,
´ the MSA levels at Klasies River and other
1976), Mugharet el-Aliya (Howe, 1967), southern Cape sites in which marine
and Zouhra (Debenath Sbihi-Alaoui,
´ resources are relatively scarce, to the subse-
1979) in Morocco. Walter et al. (2000) quent LSA occupations in which they are
report stone artefacts and marine bivalves, relatively abundant. The MSA inhabitants
gastropods, and other invertebrate fossils at Klasies River, Die Kelders, Sea Harvest,
from a reef platform near Massawa on the Hoedjies Punt, Mossel Bay, and Herolds
Red Sea coast of Eritrea, dated by U-series Bay Cave did utilize shellﬁsh (limpets), and,
on fossil coral to ca. 125 ka (see also at Klasies, marine mammals (seals), and
Stringer, 2000). Despite the presence of birds (penguins) (Volman, 1978; Brink
handaxes, the artefacts are described as Deacon, 1982; Thackeray, 1988; Klein,
MSA. Although the behavior represented by 1994; Avery et al., 1997). The MSA levels
the ﬁnds is diﬃcult to evaluate without yielded smaller quantities of shells than LSA
details of the artefacts or their archaeological levels at some sites. It may be that the use of
context, the authors have interpreted the marine resources was not as frequent or as
material to represent the harvesting of regular in the MSA as in the LSA, but the
marine resources in a shallow subtidal smaller volume of shell in the MSA levels at
environment. In South Africa, shellﬁsh Klasies River and Die Kelders is in part the
remains are found at Klasies River (Singer result of decalciﬁcation of the older cave
Wymer, 1982; Deacon Geleijnse, 1988; deposits. At both sites the lower strata are
Thackeray, 1988; Deacon, 1989, 1995), clearly compressed, the bulk of bone and
Die Kelders (Avery et al., 1997; Grine et al., shell having been leached away (Goldberg,
1998; Goldberg, 2000; Klein Cruz-Uribe, 2000; Deacon, personal communication;
2000), and Herolds Bay (Brink Deacon, Avery, personal communication; personal
1982), as well as at Hoedjies Punt, Sea observation).
Harvest, and Boegoeberg 2 (Volman, 1978; Comparison of shell diameters from the
Klein, 1989a, 1999). MSA populations MSA deposits at Hoedjies Punt, Sea
apparently were also sometimes subject to Harvest, and Boegoeberg 2 with LSA
conditions leading to the intensive exploi- middens at Paternoster and Elands Bay
tation of these resources, as shown by the Cave, South Africa, shows a decline in the
unusually large quantities of giant land snail mean size of the limpet Patella granatina
(Burtoa nilotica) shell in the later MSA from MSA to LSA times (Klein, 1989a,
deposits in Bed V at Mumba Rock Shelter, 1999). This trend reﬂects the harvesting of
Tanzania (Mehlman, 1989), and the large less mature individuals, one of the clear
numbers of angulate tortoises (Chersina signs for economic intensiﬁcation in the
angulata) at Die Kelders (Klein, 1994; Klein LSA. The mean size of mammalian prey
Cruz-Uribe, 2000). Evidence from coastal species also decreased. Comparison of seal
Italy (Stiner, 1993, 1994; Stiner et al., 1999, mortality proﬁles from MSA (Klasies River
2000) and Gibraltar (Barton et al., 1999) and Die Kelders) and LSA (Duneﬁeld, Die
shows that Neanderthals did sometimes Kelders, Kasteelberg, Elands Bay Cave,
eat marine shellﬁsh, but the impressive Nelson Bay Cave) reveals that seals in the
LSA of the South African Cape coast were grease or marrow for several weeks or even
harvested during their breeding season, months. The presence of people discourages
while in the MSA, seals were apparently scavenging by nondomestic carnivores, and
taken throughout the year (Klein, 1994, after the departure of the human group,
1995; Klein Cruz-Uribe, 1996). Klein has many of the smaller faunal remains are no
argued that this pattern indicates a more longer of interest to scavengers. Residential
selective, seasonally focused strategy for the stability thus ‘‘protects’’ the small-mammal
LSA hunters. Marean Assefa (1999) have component from the attentions of scaven-
pointed out that LSA assemblages represent gers and leads to better small element sur-
shorter time intervals than most of those vival. The decreased mobility of larger, more
from the MSA. They may thus be less dense human populations may thus exagger-
subject to the problems of time averaging ate our perception of increased use of small
and thereby show clearer patterns of season- scale resources in the LSA.
ality. Furthermore, it is not clear why taking
seal when natural mortality is high should
Economy and social organization
indicate greater intelligence or technical
competence. Lithic resource procurement
Klein (1989a, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, The exchange of goods and the development
2000) has repeatedly asserted that the of trade networks are important components
greater intellectual abilities and technologi- of contemporary society and have been con-
cal sophistication of LSA people allowed for sidered key ingredients in modern human
intensiﬁcation and resulted in an increase in behavior (White, 1982; Mellars, 1996;
the human population. LSA sites greatly Klein, 1989b, 1995). In Upper Paleolithic
outnumber MSA sites on the African land- Europe, raw materials such as elk teeth,
scape, and while LSA sites have been mammoth ivory, amber, marine shells, and
presented with fewer opportunities for fossils were obtained from distant sources
obliteration, the greater number of sites no and transformed into decorative objects
doubt reﬂects a real increase in human (White, 1982, 1989b, 1993; Taborin, 1993).
numbers. We would argue that there is no Studies of the sources of lithic materials
intellectual diﬀerence in the abilities of MSA can provide information on ranging patterns
and LSA hominids. Rather, a long-term and resource networks for stone tool-using
trend in population growth led to residual populations. Two general principles apply in
crowding and a diminished resource base, nearly all prehistoric contexts. First, local
rendering further intensiﬁcation necessary in raw materials almost invariably outnumber
the LSA (cf. Voigt, 1982; Deacon, 1989; those obtained from distant sources.
Milo, 1998; Marean Assefa, 1999). In Second, in most cases, exotic stone, being of
addition, crowding probably led to greater higher quality, was more intensively utilized
residential stability in the LSA, which in and presumably more highly prized
turn may contribute to higher archaeological (Geneste, 1989a,b; Turq, 1989; Kuhn,
visibility for small food items. Yellen (1991) 1991; 1992; Mellars, 1996; Blades, 1999).
has shown that at Jun/wasi sites, longer In the Middle Paleolithic of western
residential times result in higher represen- Europe, according to Feblot-Augustins
tation of small species in faunal assemblages. (1997), most raw material is locally derived,
Small faunal elements are at risk of destruc- but 13–17% of sites (n=116) contain small
tion by carnivore gnawing, but lose their quantities of stone from as far away as
attractiveness to scavengers after a period of 80–120 km (cf. Conard Adler, 1997). In
three days, whereas larger bones may retain the late Middle Paleolithic of central and
514 . . .
eastern Europe, 71% of sites (n=24) yield Szeletian sites (n=76) and 42% of his
materials from sources lying at distances Aurignacian sites (n=150) having distances
80 km, in one case as much as 300 km. exceeding 100 km. Maximum transport dis-
Mellars (1996: 164) points out that sources tances in the eastern European early Upper
of ﬂint are far more widely dispersed in Paleolithic are as great as 300–420 km
central and eastern Europe than in south- (Feblot-Augustins, 1997: Tables 38 and
western France, but both Feblot-Augustins
´ inventories 57–62).
(1997: 162–163) and Steele Gamble If the greater transport distances in the
(1998; Gamble, 1986) explain the diﬀer- eastern European Paleolithic can be
ences between eastern and western Europe explained on ecological grounds, as sug-
raw material procurement on ecological gested by Gamble (1986; Steele Gamble,
grounds. Their view is that colder, more 1998), it would seem that the African
continental climates in the east would have MSA should be characterized by smaller
necessitated greater seasonal displacement territories and transport distances, especially
and larger home ranges for hominids, as it in the tropics (Deshmukh, 1986; Foley,
does for other mammals, and these would 1987), but the reverse is true. At African
be reﬂected in raw material acquisition Acheulian sites, exotic raw materials are rare
patterns. (Merrick Brown, 1984; Merrick et al.,
Local raw materials continue to domi- 1994; Feblot-Augustins, 1997: inventories
nate Upper Paleolithic assemblages. For 8–13). Fewer than 1% of the items in the
example, at nearly all the German artefact inventories have been transported
Gravettian sites studied by Scheer (1993), for distances greater than 40 km, and the
more than 95% of the lithic artefacts were maximum transport distance is 100 km for
made from raw material obtained from the Ethiopian site of Gadeb. In the East
within a radius of 25 km. At some French African MSA, while the proportion of exotic
Upper Paleolithic sites the proportion of raw materials remains under 1%, known
exotic ﬂint makes up 25% of the assem- transport distances for materials at some
blage, but the distance the material is trans- sites are much greater. Through analysis of
ported remains much the same as in the their elemental and chemical compositions
Middle Paleolithic (Mellars, 1996; Geneste, by electron microprobe (EMP), and in some
1989b; Feblot-Augstins, 1997; Blades,
´ cases x-ray ﬂuorescence (XRF), about a
1999). Only ﬁve (1·9%) of 263 western dozen distinct petrological groups can be
European sites, all in Belgium and distinguished among the obsidian ﬂows in
Germany, studied by Feblot-Augustins
´ the central Kenyan Rift Valley (Merrick
(1997) have raw materials from distances Brown, 1984; Merrick et al., 1994).
exceeding 100 km, and no transport dis- Artefacts manufactured in obsidian from
tance from any Chatelperronian site in his
ˆ these sources have now been identiﬁed
study exceeds 100 km (n=26). Exotic stone from a number of MSA sites in Kenya and
from sources more distant that 100 km does Tanzania. A specimen from the MSA site
occur in the Perigordian/Gravettian and the at Songhor, western Kenya (McBrearty,
Magdalenian, although in only one case in 1981), has been shown to be from a source
the Magdalenian does the transport distance at Njorowa Gorge, 145 km to the east. Two
exceed 200 km (Feblot-Augustins, 1997:
´ specimens from the MSA Pundo Makwar
Table 38). In central Europe, transport industry from member 6 at the site of
distances and proportions of exotic materials Muguruk, western Kenya (McBrearty,
in the early Upper Paleolithic are greater 1986, 1988) are derived from sources at
than in western Europe, with 27·6% of his Eburru and Sonanchi, 185 km and 190 km
from the site. Between Muguruk and Kenya, obsidian comprises 5–8% of the
Songhor and their obsidian sources lies the artefacts. In the earlier MSA levels here, the
western shoulder of the Gregory Rift, and majority of the obsidian (53%), is derived
to transverse this impressive physiographic from sources 65 km distant. The remain-
obstacle involves a climb of at least 1000 m. ing 31% of the obsidian, or 2% of the total
Obsidian at two MSA sites in northern assemblage, comes from sources between
Tanzania are derived from some of the same 105 and 135 km away. In the later MSA
central Kenya Rift sources as the Muguruk levels, 62% of the obsidian comes from
and Songhor artefacts, and was transported these exotic sources. There appears to be no
over even greater distances. A sample of four diﬀerence in the manner in which local and
pieces of obsidian from the MSA Kisele exotic materials are treated at Lukenya Hill
industry in levels 14–22 at Nasera Rock for artefact production, and there is no evi-
Shelter, near Lake Eyasi in northern dence for the importation of ﬁnished tools.
Tanzania, are from sources at Sonanchi, At the open air MSA site of Prospect Farm,
Eburru, and Masai Gorge, near Lake excavated by Anthony (1978) and dated
Naivasha, 240 km north-northeast of Nasera by obsidian hydration to 120 ka (Michels
(Merrick Brown, 1984; Mehlman, 1989). et al., 1983), as many as 99·5% of the
A sample of seven pieces of obsidian from artefacts in any given level are obsidian. The
the MSA Sanzako and Kisele industries in site is located on Mount Eburru itself, in
Bed VI at the Mumba Rock Shelter in extremely close proximity to obsidian out-
the same region of northern Tanzania crops, but even here, low frequencies of
(Mehlman, 1977, 1979, 1989, 1991) are exotic obsidian from a source at Kisanana,
derived from an outcrop that lies 320 km 75 km away, are found throughout the
from the shelter (Merrick Brown, 1984; sequence (Merrick et al., 1994). The MSA
Mehlman, 1989). The Sanzako industry is inhabitants of the nearby site of Prolonged
dated by U-series to 100–130 ka (Mehlman, Drift (GrJi-11), Kenya, seem to show a
1987). deﬁnite preference for exotic obsidians.
Nor are these isolated examples. At Porc Here nearly 90% of the obsidian is imported
Epic, Ethiopia, obsidian makes up 5·5% of from sources at Sonanchi and Njorowa
the MSA assemblage. Though geochemical Gorge, 45–55 km from the site, and only a
analyses have not been carried out, the few specimens have been found to represent
obsidian is believed to have come from the much nearer Masai Gorge outcrops near
sources 90 km or 140 km to the west (Clark Mount Eburru (Merrick et al., 1994). There
et al., 1984). Merrick et al. (1994) believe is no evidence to suggest that approach to
that although movement of 100 km might any of these obsidian outcrops was pre-
fall within the range of mobile forag- vented by physiographical factors in the
ing groups, it is unlikely that transport of past. While the suggestion is speculative, it is
obsidian for distances 300 km represents possible that some human groups controlled
deliberate collecting forays. They suggest access to valuable obsidian sources and pre-
instead that increased interaction and vented collection by others. The presence
exchange among human groups can explain of stylistic provinces in the African MSA
the distribution of obsidian over the MSA strengthens the impression of distinct ethnic
landscape. groups, and seems to support trade rather
At some East African MSA sites where than transport as the obsidian distribution
obsidian is plentiful, raw material procure- mechanism.
ment and use patterns are diﬀerent. At the On the Cape coast of South Africa, the
GvJm-16 rockshelter on Lukenya Hill, use of ﬁne grained raw materials is a
516 . . .
feature of the Howiesons Poort industry that changing lithic resource availability. Thus
distinguishes it from other MSA industries, higher frequencies of exotic lithics in the
and these raw materials are selectively used Howiesons Poort relative to the preceding
for the manufacture of microliths (Singer MSA I and II and the succeeding MSA III
Wymer, 1982; Volman, 1984; Thackeray, and IV signal the larger territories required
1992; Deacon Wurz, 1996; Wurz, 1997, due to resource patchiness or unpredict-
1999). While 96·0–99·8% of the artefacts in ability. While most authors (e.g. Deacon,
the other MSA levels at Klasies River main 1989; Ambrose Lorenz, 1990; Deacon
site are local quartzite, this raw material Wurz, 1996; Deacon Deacon, 1999;
comprises only 73·0% of the Howiesons Wurz, 1999) imply that the Howiesons
Poort assemblage. The remaining 27·0% is Poort and the MSA I–IV are the varied
made up of silcrete, quartz, and hornfels responses of a single population seen
(Wurz, 1997). Although determining the through time, it seems at least equally
precise source areas for the silcretes is likely that these distinct interstratiﬁed
problematic, outcrops exist in the inland technologies were produced by diﬀerent
Cape Folded Mountains at distances hominid groups.
d15 km (Singer Wymer, 1982; Wurz, High-quality raw materials were used
1997). In a recent sample of Howiesons preferentially to manufacture the Howiesons
Poort artefacts from Klasies River cave 2, Poort geometrics (Singer Wymer, 1982;
only 4% of the total sample is nonquartzite, Wurz, 1997), which may have played a
but 39% of the retouched artefacts are made major role in the maintenance of social
in nonquartzitic raw materials (Wurz, networks. Ethnographically, subsistence
1997). under adverse conditions such as those
Ambrose Lorenz (1990), Deacon documented for the Howiesons Poort
(1989), and others portray the Howiesons requires territories too big for even a large
Poort as an adaptation to cool, moist con- group to defend. It encourages information
ditions and a closed vegetation community. sharing among groups and the maintenance
This interpretation is supported by the of a network of sometimes elaborate and
presence of eboulis sec (angular rock frag-
´ ritualized obligations with distant allies as
ments with little chemical weathering) in insurance against times of resource scarcity
Howiesons Poort deposits at Border Cave, (Gould, 1978; Wiessner, 1982, 1983, 1986,
Boomplaas, Montagu Cave, and Nelson Bay 1998). Deacon (1989; Deacon Wurz,
Cave (Ambrose Lorenz, 1990), by 18O 1996) considers the standardized geometrics
values on marine molluscs from Klasies of the Howiesons Poort expensive and notes
River indicating cool sea water temperatures that they are precisely the kind of objects
(Shackleton, 1982), by the absence of beach used in the ritual hxaro exchange system
sand in the same levels indicating low sea of modern San people, as described by
level (Butzer, 1982), and by the preponder- Wiessner (1982, 1983, 1986), even though
ance among the Howiesons Poort ungulate geometrics may only require 10–20 seconds
faunas at Klasies River, Boomplaas, and each to produce, once the raw material has
Border Cave of small, closed habitat been obtained (Rozoy, 1985). Both Deacon
forms (Klein, 1976, 1978; Deacon, 1979; (1989) and Wurz (1999; Deacon Wurz,
Ambrose Lorenz, 1990). Ambrose 1996) stress the symbolic content of
Lorenz (1990; Ambrose, 1998c) view raw Howiesons Poort backed geometrics.
material procurement as embedded within Deacon sees the specialized Howiesons
the resource acquisition round and see tech- Poort artefacts as a means of maintaining
nological change in part as a response to populations and their social structures
during times of resource stress, rather than eliminate natural agents in their formation.
simply as a coping mechanism to deal with Thus the store pavement from Katanda,
colder and drier conditions. Because quartz- D. R. Congo, reported by Yellen (1996) and
ite geometrics do not diﬀer signiﬁcantly in dating to 70–90 ka (Brooks et al., 1995),
their measurable attributes from silcrete may represent a deliberately constructed
examples, Wurz (1999) concludes that habitation substrate or may be a lag concen-
selection of silcrete was not made for utili- trated by ﬂuvial processes or termites (cf.
tarian reasons. Rather she argues that the McBrearty, 1990a). Its sharp boundaries
use of a more costly raw material rendered resemble those from the Acheulian artefact
the ﬁnished object, presumably arrow or concentrations at the Olorgesailie Main Site,
spear armatures, more valuable as an item in interpreted by Isaac (1977) as ﬂuvial cut and
an exchange network. While future experi- ﬁll features, but by Potts et al. (1999a,b) as
mental replication may well show that the the result of human activities. Similarly, the
ﬂaking properties of silcrete are superior to concentration of bipolar ﬂaking debris at
those of quartzite for the manufacture of Simbi, Kenya, reported by McBrearty
geometrics, this would not diminish the (1993b) and dating to between 200 and
value of the objects as items of exchange. 60 ka, may be an undisturbed activity area
or deliberately dumped refuse (cf. Wilson,
1994), but the possibility that it was concen-
Economy and social organization
trated by gently ﬂowing water cannot be
Site structure and modiﬁcation ruled out. An often cited example of semi-
The designation of diﬀerent areas of a habi- circular MSA windbreaks at Orangia, South
tation site for diﬀerent activities reveals a Africa (Sampson, 1968, 1974) is now
formalized conceptualization of the living thought to date to the LSA (Klein, 1989b).
space that is considered by many to indicate However, there are a number of un-
sophisticated cognitive functions (e.g., ambiguous examples of deliberate site modi-
Binford, 1989; Hodder, 1987). The deliber- ﬁcation from MSA contexts. Debenath ´
ate modiﬁcation of the occupation area is (1994; Debenath et al., 1986) reports the
thought to be unique to H. sapiens, and remains of structures from a number of
is a feature that consistently distinguishes Aterian sites both on the Mediterranean
European Upper Paleolithic from Middle littoral and in the Sahara. Traces of post-
Paleolithic sites (Farizy, 1990; Mellars, holes have been found at le Chaperon-
1996). Potential bias in our perception of Rouge, Morocco, and at Seggedim, Niger.
patterning in residential sites has several At the latter site, the sharp edges of the ﬂint
sources. Ephemeral sites may have little for- scatter adjacent to the post holes suggests
mal structure imposed by their inhabitants, the location of an ephemeral wall or pali-
but sites occupied for long periods may have sade. At the Grotte Zouhra (El Harhoura),
any existing patterns ‘‘smeared’’ by later Morocco, arrangements of stone wedges are
inhabitants. Caves may preserve occupation believed to have served as supports for poles.
features better than open sites, but they also At the sites of Nazlet Safaha in the Nile
circumscribe the occupation area and Valley of Egypt, extensive MSA quarrying
impose space limits. The result may be for ﬂint has created a series of ditches up to
overprinting of diﬀerent activities or a higher 2 m wide and 1·7 m deep covering an area of
degree of activity segregation, depending 600 m2 (Vermeersch et al., 1990). A similar
upon the inhabitants’ response. practice is reported for the nearby extensive
Many examples of MSA site modiﬁcation Taramsa site complex (Vermeersch et al.,
remain ambiguous due to our inability to 1990; van Peer, 1998).
518 . . .
Deliberate arrangement of large piles of that would have had diameters of about 3 m.
stones, whose purposes are as yet unknown, His interpretation is supported by the distri-
are also known from the MSA. From bution of lithic debitage and bone debris,
Aterian context at Dar-es-Soltane 2, which dip toward the center of the arcs,
Debenath (1994) describes an enigmatic
´ suggesting that they were banked up against
heap of sandstone slabs about 1 m in the perimeter, possibly by deliberate sweep-
diameter and 30 cm high. A larger pile of ing. Barham notes that these windbreaks
approximately 60 limestone balls was would have served to deﬂect the prevailing
recovered from a fossil spring at the site of easterly winds and to create a trap for heat
El-Guettar, Tunisia, together with broken generated by the afternoon sun against the
bone, ﬂaking waste, and a collection of cave wall.
retouched tools that includes a tanged Also in the MSA levels at Mumbwa is
Aterian point (Gruet, 1954, 1955; Clark, clear evidence for deliberately constructed
1982). Some of the El-Guettar stone balls stone-lined hearths. Six of these, built of
are deliberately shaped spheroids, others large limestone blocks as well as transported
are naturally round; they have diameters stone, contain quantities of indurated ash,
ranging between 4·5 and 18·0 cm. The base burned bone, and burned limestone and
of the pile may have been surrounded by a sediment. One partially eroded example
ring of larger stones. A similar mass of stone would have had a diameter of 70 cm when
balls 1·3 m in diameter and 75 cm high has complete, was 25 cm deep, was ﬁlled with
been recovered from an ancient spring near 10 cm of ash and surrounded by a zone of
Windhoek, Namibia (Fock, 1954; Clark, baked sediment. Barham suggests it may
1982). It is made up of 36 spheroids, each have been used as a roasting pit. Another
weighing between 600 and 1200 g. The example measures 90 cm 70 cm, with a
unique association of these piles of stone depth of ash of 5 cm. Five others are super-
balls with springs has been emphasized by imposed, and apparently stones from earlier
Clark (1982: 265), who suggests that they hearths were reused in the construction of
may have been cairns, implying a symbolic the later features. This indicates a clear
function, or more prosaically, that they may conception of space and its deliberate,
have provided a platform from which to repeated use for the same function. The
collect water, though why spheroids would many superimposed hearths in the
be needed for this purpose is unclear. The Howiesons Poort levels at the main site at
possibility that the spheroids may have Klasies River (Henderson, 1992; Deacon,
tumbled by chance into the eyes of the 1995, 1998) suggest similar reuse and a
springs cannot be ruled out, but their large formal conception of domestic space.
numbers suggest that these are not chance
associations, and deliberate placement by
the site occupants seems most likely.
A striking example of MSA structures
from subsaharan African is reported by Special treatment of the dead
Barham (1996) at Mumbwa Cave, Zambia. Burial and other special treatments of the
Here three superimposed arc-shaped fea- dead are a consistent feature of the symbolic
tures of stone blocks, ash, baked sedi- life of modern human societies, and the
ment and lithic and bone debris are belief that the Neanderthals deliberately
associated with a number of hearths and buried their dead has been a major factor
post holes. Barham (1996) interprets these contributing to an impression of their
as the remains of three circular windbreaks humanity and, for some, their inclusion in
our species. Despite the ambiguities intro- least 32 individuals, dated by ESR and
duced by taphonomic processes and U-series to 320–200 ka (Bischoﬀ et al.,
nineteenth-century recovery techniques 1997) may have been accumulated by delib-
(Gargett, 1989, 1999), there is general erate disposal down a 13 m shaft in the
agreement that most if not all relatively interior of the cave. Alternatively, carnivores
complete Neanderthal skeletons were delib- or natural sedimentary processes may have
erately interred (comments to Gargett, introduced the hominid material into the
1989; Deﬂeur, 1993; Mellars, 1996, and site, or the sima may have acted as a death
references therein). For modern human trap for hominids, as well as for bears and
groups, burial connotes respect for the other carnivores (Arsuaga et al., 1997b;
dead as well as symbolic and ritual ideas. If Andrews Fernandez-Jalvo, 1997).
Neanderthals did deliberately bury their The earliest evidence for burial among H.
dead, there can be no certainty that the sapiens is found in the Levant at the site of
practice was ritual and not merely hygienic Qafzeh, where at least four out of as many
in nature. These issues have often been as 15 individuals represented in the cave
discussed (e.g., Mellars, 1996) and are are interpreted as deliberate interments
cogently reviewed by Chase Dibble (Vandermeersch, 1981; Bar-Yosef et al.,
(1987) and Hayden (1993). Particularly 1986). These are dated by TL, ESR, and
signiﬁcant is the lack of grave goods in AAR to ca. 90–120 ka (Schwarcz et al.,
Neanderthal burials, apart from materials 1988; Valladas et al., 1988; Brooks et al.,
normally encountered in the archaeological 1993b; Bar-Yosef, 1998). At least one
sediments that composed the grave ﬁll. of these, Qafzeh 11, may be associated
While skeletal completeness and articu- with grave goods (Vandermeersch, 1981;
lation of elements have been regarded as Bar-Yosef Vandermeersch, 1993).
evidence for Neanderthal burial (Belfer- Population movements among both
Cohen Hovers, 1992), Gargett (1989, Neanderthals and H. sapiens as a response to
1999) emphasizes the importance of natural climatic change may have been frequent in
disarticulation (e.g., Hill, 1979), rockfall the Pleistocene. Mammalian fauna associ-
(Farrand, 1985), and postmortem tissue ated with early H. sapiens in the Levant
dehydration at low temperatures as factors suggests an extension of the Ethiopian
to be considered in Pleistocene cave fauna, including H. sapiens, to the region
environments. If his interpretation were cor- during or prior to oxygen isotope stage 5
rect, we would owe the richness of the (Tchernov, 1988, 1998), and a later
Neanderthal fossil record to the hazards of expansion of the Neanderthals as part of a
living in caves, rather than to Neanderthal European fauna, into the same territory
corpse disposal habits. However, there is (Hublin, 1990, 1998b; Klein, 1995–1996;
good evidence for earlier occupation of Bar-Yosef, 1998). Neanderthals and H.
caves at numerous sites with good faunal sapiens coexisted in Europe for a period of
preservation in Middle Pleistocene Europe about 10,000 years (Mellars, 1998b,c), and
(e.g., Arago, Lazaret, Peche de l’Aze, ´ aspects of modern behavior represented in
Vertesszollos), in the Near East (e.g.,
´ ¨ ¨ European archaeological industries of the
Yabrud, Tabun, Zuttiyeh) and in Africa period between 40 ka and 30 ka, such as the
(e.g., Cave of Hearths, Haua Fteah), and Chatelperronian, Uluzzian, and Szeletian,
it is diﬃcult to explain why articulated appear to be the result of Neanderthal accul-
skeletons are completely lacking from this turation (e.g., Allsworth-Jones, 1986, 1990;
time range. The hominids from the Sima de Demars Hublin, 1989; Farizy, 1990; Ruiz
los Huesos, Atapuerca, Spain, numbering at Hublin, 1994; Mellars, 1998a; but see
520 . . .
d’Errico et al., 1998; Zilhao d’Errico,
˜ cave as they are unfragmented and in an
1998). Neanderthal burials in Europe date excellent state of preservation, unlike the
to after 75 ka (Mellars, 1986, 1996), and it balance of the MSA fauna. Sillen Morris
is quite plausible that the practice of burial (1996) have argued that the diagenetic state
of the dead was also learned by the of the BC3 infant skeleton is not consistent
Neanderthals from their modern neighbors with great antiquity. This is diﬃcult to
in the Near East, among whom the practice reconcile with the report of the excavators,
predates 90 ka. who noted that it was found in a shallow
In Africa, deliberate burials of Middle grave, covered with intact sediments.
Pleistocene hominids are absent. The cut- If the Border Cave hominids were in situ
marks on the temporal bone of the Bodo in the MSA levels, their age is beyond the
cranium, however, indicate deﬂeshing with a range of reliability for radiocarbon. Radio-
stone tool (White, 1986), and suggest either carbon dates for the later MSA levels at the
cannibalism or a postmortem ritualized site are inﬁnite (48 ka), and Beaumont
treatment of the skull. Evidence for canni- et al. (1978) estimate the age of the homi-
balism is also present in the modern human nids at 90–100 ka on paleoclimatic grounds.
sample from Klasies River (White, 1987; Sediments overlying the grave contained
Deacon Deacon, 1999), where the state ostrich eggshell fragments that are now
of the human remains in terms of fragmen- dated to 105 ka by AAR calibrated by 14C
tation, cutmarks and burning is indistin- determinations on charcoal from higher in
guishable from that of the nonhuman bones, the cave sequence (Miller et al., 1993,
which are presumably food remains. It is 1999). If the associations are valid, and if
interesting to speculate upon whether the the age estimate is accurate, then the Border
fragmented modern human fossils represent Cave infant (BC3) may be the earliest
a prey population, while the stone tools were known human burial. It is signiﬁcant that
made by their predators, whose remains the infant was associated with a single
have not become incorporated into the cave perforated Conus shell, which is interpreted
ﬁll. as a pendent (Cooke et al., 1945; Wells,
There is evidence that deliberate inter- 1950; Beaumont Boshier, 1972).
ment was practiced by early H. sapiens in Another deliberate human burial from
Africa, but it is not uncontroversial. Modern MSA context is described by Vermeersch
human remains have been recovered from et al. (1998) from the site of Taramsa, a ﬂint
Border Cave, South Africa. These include a extraction and reduction site complex in the
partial cranium, two mandibles, some post- Nile Valley of Egypt. Here the complete
cranial bones (BC1, BC2), and a nearly skeleton of a juvenile with an estimated age
complete infant skeleton (BC3), which is at death of 8–10 years has been recovered
interpreted as a deliberate burial (Beaumont in association with Nubian Levallois tech-
et al., 1978). Doubt has been cast on the nology and foliate points. The skeleton
provenience of the Border Cave hominid has preliminarily been described as fully
fossils, because the cranium and limb bones modern. The face is somewhat prognathic
were found in the course of guano mining, and the teeth are large, and there are no
and all of the human fossils, with the excep- appreciable supraorbital tori; it is com-
tion of the second mandible, were recovered parable in these features to Qafzeh 9. The
in the 1940s, when recovery techniques child’s skeleton was found in a seated pos-
were far from ideal. Parkington (1990) ition, with the legs ﬂexed and the head
argues that the human fossils from Border facing upward. There appear to be no grave
Cave are intrusive from upper levels in the goods, apart from the stone artefacts. While
the grave ﬁll consists of large cobbles and ornamentation predates that of Europe by
eolian sand, interpreted as quarry dump tens of thousands of years. The perforated
debris, the burial is overlain by intact MSA Conus shell associated with the infant burial
deposits. OSL dates on sand range from BC3 in MSA context at Border Cave may
80 ka to 50 ka. date to before 105 ka, though the cautions
An additional case of possible deliberate of Sillen Morris (1996) regarding the
burial has been reported from the site of possibly intrusive context of BC3 must be
Mumbwa, Zambia, where stone beehive- borne in mind. A number of body orna-
shaped structures have been found to con- ments are now known from Aterian sites
tain fragmentary human bones (Dart Del dating from at least 130 ka to ca. 40 ka.
Grande, 1931; Jones, 1940; Clark, 1989; These include a bone pendant from the
Barham, 1996). One cairn is found at a Grotte Zouhra, Morocco (Debenath, 1994),
depth consistent with a date in the MSA, four deliberately drilled quartzite ﬂakes,
but as Barham (1996) points out, the struc- probably designed for use as pendants, from
ture may be intrusive, and it closely Seggedim in eastern Niger (Tillet, 1978;
resembles Holocene examples from higher Debenath, 1994), and a perforated shell of
in the sequence. Arcularia gibbonsula from Oued Djebanna,
Algeria (Morel, 1974). It is also of interest
Beads and ornaments that the only perforated objects found in
Ornaments, as symbolic artefacts, have long the Levant prior to the Upper Paleolithic
been recognized as a hallmark of modern are associated with H. sapiens and fauna
human behavior, although their distribution including African taxa (Bar-Yosef
in the European Upper Paleolithic is Vandermeersch, 1993).
uneven, and many Aurignacian sites lack The manufacture and use of ostrich egg-
pierced or decorated items altogether (e.g., shell beads is widespread in the African
White, 1989a,b, 1993). Ornaments are LSA. The earliest LSA ostrich eggshell
infrequent at European Middle Paleolithic beads in southern Africa are documented
sites. Nearly all of these rare items are in by Robbins (1999), where direct AMS 14C
questionable stratigraphic contexts or from assays on a drilled bead preform from White
early uncontrolled excavations (e.g., La Paintings Rock Shelter yielded an age of
Quina, La Ferrassie) or are associated with 26 ka (Kokis et al., 1998; Robbins, 1999).
ﬁnal Middle Paleolithic contexts postdating Deeper in the section at White Paintings, an
the appearance of H. sapiens in Europe (e.g., eggshell partial disc that resembles the open-
Bacho Kiro, Cueva Morın, Arcy sur Cure)
´ ing of a water container has been dated to
(d’Errico et al., 1998; Zilhao d’Errico,
˜ 31 ka, and indicates a greater antiquity for
1998). Hublin (1998b, 1999; Hublin et al., the practice of eggshell working (Robbins,
1996) has argued that though the tech- 1999). At Enkapune ya Muto, Kenya, beads
niques of manufacture of early Upper are known from an early LSA content
Paleolithic and late Middle Paleolithic [Figure 9(a)], where radiocarbon dates on
pierced tooth ornaments diﬀer, the idea of ostrich eggshell fragments from bead manu-
ornamentation itself was acquired by the facture indicate an antiquity of ca. 37–40 ka
Neanderthals from their H. sapiens neigh- (Ambrose, 1998a). An early set of radio-
bors through trade or imitation (cf. Mellars, carbon dates on charcoal indicate a similar
1998a). age for ostrich eggshell beads from LSA
Ornaments have also been thought to context at Kisese II rock shelter, Tanzania
be lacking in the African MSA, but it is (Inskeep, 1962). Ambrose (1998a) makes a
now clear that the African tradition of body compelling case that dates in this age range
522 . . .
Figure 9. Early ostrich eggshell beads. (a) Enkapune ya Muto, after Appenzeller, 1998; photo courtesy of
Stanley Ambrose; (b) Mumba. Alison S. Brooks.
are particularly likely to be underestimates. technology. They were originally thought to
The layer containing the beads at Enkapune be intrusive from the early LSA horizon in
ya Muto is underlain by units estimated lower Bed III, dated by 14C and AAR to
by obsidian hydration to date to 46 ka 30–37 ka (Mehlman, 1979, 1989, 1991;
(Ambrose, 1998a). Kokis, 1988; Brooks et al., 1993b; Hare
Beads have been reported from three et al., 1993). Direct AAR assays on two of
MSA sites in South Africa, Cave of the Bed V beads show that one may indeed
Hearths (Mason, 1962; Mason et al., 1988), be intrusive from Level III, but the other
Boomplaas (Deacon, 1995), and Bushman dates to ca. 52 ka (Hare et al., 1993). These
Rock Shelter (Plug, 1982), from late MSA new age determinations establish a consider-
(Tshangulan) levels at Nswatugi, Zimbabwe able antiquity for the practice of personal
(Cooke, 1971), and from one MSA site in ornamentation in Africa, and link it with
East Africa, Mumba Rock Shelter, Tanzania MSA technology.
(Mehlman, 1989). Radiocarbon dates on Incised and notched objects are known
charcoal indicate an age of 42 ka for the from a much wider range of sites in southern
beads at Boomplaas (Deacon, 1995). The Africa. These include ocher plaques and two
Mumba beads [Figure 9(b)] were found in notched bones from Klasies River, South
Layer V, associated with an industry that Africa (Singer Wymer, 1982), two
contains elements of both LSA and MSA notched bones from Apollo 11, Namibia
Figure 10. Notched and incised objects from MSA contexts (a) incised bone from Stillbay level at
Blombos, after Henshilwood Sealey, 1997, ﬁgure 8; photo courtesy of Chris Henshilwood; (b) incised
ochre from Hollow Rock Shelter (scale in cm); (c) detail of 8(b). Photos (b) and (c) courtesy of Ian Watts.
(Wendt, 1972, 1976; Vogelsang, 1998), an ochre from Hollow Rock Shelter, South
incised bone, a notched piece of red ochre Africa [Figures 10(b,c), 12(b,c)]. Analysis
and a piece of ochre with multiple incised of C:N ratios shows the Blombos incised
cross-hatchings from Blombos, South Africa bone to have a ratio identical to that of
[Henshilwood Sealey, 1997; Figure 10(a); the rest of the MSA faunal assemblage
Gore, 2000: 100], and incised and notched (Henshilwood Sealey, 1997, n.d.). The
524 . . .
incised bone and notched and incised red Although some would identify the use of
ochre at Blombos all underlie sterile dune pigment in prehistory as de facto evidence for
sands dated by OSL to 73 ka (Henshilwood, symbolic behavior (e.g., Marshack, 1981,
pers. comm.). A more elaborately modiﬁed 1989), others are skeptical of the symbolic
bone, with a set of repeated incised notches content of this behavior (e.g., Chase
has been described from transitional MSA/ Dibble, 1987, 1992) and urge consideration
LSA context at Border Cave, Swaziland of taphonomic factors (Bednarik, 1992).
(Beaumont, 1978). Incised ostrich eggshell Some authors have distinguished between
fragments, that may be pieces of water con- symbolic and domestic use, such as for hide
tainers like those of the modern San, have preparation (e.g., Mellars, 1996). Others
been found at Diepkloof, South Africa, have suggested possible medical uses for
and Apollo 11, Namibia (Wendt, 1972; ochre, as a styptic or antiseptic treatment for
Vogelsang, 1998). At all these sites, the wounds or for eradicating internal or exter-
notched objects predate 40–50 ka. At Apollo nal parasites (Cole, 1954; Velo, 1984,
11, incised fragments continue to the base of 1986). If metallic oxides are recovered in
the MSA, dated by AAR of ostrich eggshell association with undoubted art objects, or at
to 83 ka (Kokis, 1988; Miller et al., 1999). sites whose inhabitants are known to have
functioned within a well articulated sym-
Use of pigment bolic system, the materials are usually
Pigment is a substance that imparts color assumed to have been used as a coloring
to other materials, and the systematic use medium. For example, characoal has been
of pigment is one of the hallmarks of the found to have been an ingredient in
European Upper Paleolithic (White, 1982). European Upper Paleolithic paint recipes
While the sophisticated cave art at some of (Clottes, 1993), but if found in archaeo-
the best known European painted caves logical deposits in the absence of other evi-
dates to the Magdalenian period, ca. 18 ka, dence it would probably be confounded
recent direct dating by AMS 14C shows that with domestic refuse. Pigment must be
the European cave art tradition dates back adequately preserved to show traces of
to ca. 30 ka (Clottes et al., 1992, 1995; grinding, and may be expected to survive
Valladas et al., 1992; Chauvet et al., 1996), less well at open air sites than in caves. If the
and mobiliary art is likewise known from the material was completely pulverized in pre-
Aurignacian (Hahn, 1993). Organic com- history, it may show up as little more than a
pounds can be used as pigment, but those stain. Evidence for burning has been argued
detected in the archaeological record are to be a byproduct of natural processes for
more frequently metallic oxides. While the ochre at Terra Amata (Wreschner,
carbon in the form of both graphite and 1985); in other cases, burning may be
charcoal, manganese, and kaolin were used interpreted as evidence for a deliberate
in prehistory (Courard, 1988; Clottes et al., processing strategy, as has been maintained
1990; Clotes, 1993), the pigments most for the Chatelperronian occurrences at Arcy-
commonly encountered in archaeological sur-Cure (Demars, 1992; Couraud, 1991).
contexts are iron oxides. These may take the Pigment, in the form of both iron and
form of red hematite (Fe2O3) or yellow manganese oxides, has been encountered at
limonite [FeO(OH) nH2O]. Limonite can about a dozen European Middle Paleolithic
be transformed into hematite by oxidation; sites (Bordes, 1952; Marshack, 1981;
the process is most eﬃciently achieved by Demars, 1992; Mellars, 1996), and a lime-
burning, and requires a temperature of at stone ochre receptacle is reported from late
least 250 C (Couraud, 1988). Mousterian level at Grotte de Neron, ´
France (Combier, 1989; de Beaune, 1993). depict Europeans, guns, and horses. There
Fragments of pigment that show signs of is good ethnographic evidence for continuity
scraping and wear facets, and grindstones in the symbolic content of southern African
perhaps used for ochre preparation are rock art with modern San belief systems
present in Mousterian levels at Cueva de (Vinnicombe, 1975, 1976; Lewis-Williams,
Castillo and Cueva Morın, Spain (Kraybill,
´ 1982, 1983). The paintings are believed to
1977). Although Mellars (1996) argues for have retained their power into modern
domestic use, it can equally reasonably be times, and some are now at risk, due to the
inferred that the pigment was used as a removal of pigment from the images by
coloring agent, and lends support to the idea non-San local healers for use in curing
of some form of symbolic or imaginative rituals (Hall, 1999).
life among the later Neanderthals. It is sig- Fock (1972) postulates an early date for
niﬁcant that the pigment at Arcy-sur-Cure petroglyphs in southwestern Gauteng, based
postdates the appearance of H. sapiens in on his identiﬁcation of an engraving of a
Burgundian France (Mellars, 1998a,b). bovid as the extinct Megalotragus or Homoi-
Because the systematic use of pigment oceras. While additional supporting evidence
occurs earlier in the Near East, Hublin would be welcome, Fock is correct to point
(1990, 1998b) has suggested that, like out that the African rock art tradition may
burial, the practice may have been acquired have an early origin. Subsaharan Africa con-
by the Neanderthals through long-distance tains few deep limestone caves which can
cultural diﬀusion. provide the alkaline conditions conducive to
The use of red ochre is widespread in preservation. Prehistorically occupied rock-
modern subsaharan Africa. Either in dry shelters are often no more than overhangs
powdered form or mixed with fat or water it with walls exposed to the elements. As
is applied as a cosmetic to the hair and skin Phillipson (1977: 288) points out, the
and as a decoration to beads, hides, and earliest mural rock paintings in Africa have
clothing. It is commonly applied as paint to probably long since been lost through ex-
house walls and pottery. It is clear that foliation and the natural collapse of shallow
hematite and limonite were almost uni- cave systems, and only rare discoveries of
versally used as coloring agents in late buried pieces of painted rock provide an
Pleistocene and Holocene Africa. Countless indication of the true antiquity of the
frgments of pigment with unambiguous evi- tradition (cf. Beaumont, 1992).
dence of grinding, as well as grindstones Granite slabs with ochre traces have been
with traces of ochre, have been recovered found at Nswatugi, Zimbabwe, in a late
from LSA sites. Undoubted art objects, MSA (Tshangulan) horizon with an inﬁnite
including artefacts of stone, bone, shell and radiocarbon age (Cooke, 1971; Walker,
other organic materials with traces of 1995; Larsson, 1996). Wendt (1975, 1976)
applied ochre are also often found in LSA and Vogelsang (1996, 1998) report painted
contexts, and painted stones are frequently slabs from the Apollo 11 cave, Namibia, in
encountered in LSA graves (Rudner, 1971). an MSA horizon stratiﬁed above a level
Painted and engraved rock outcrops and containing artefacts with Howiesons Poort
caves dating to the LSA have wide distri- aﬃnities (Figure 11). The painted slabs may
bution in subsaharan Africa, where natural- be exfoliated from the cave ceiling, or, as
istic images depict aspects of a foraging way argued by Wendt, may be portable art
of life. In North Africa the tradition persists objects. Ochre crayons occur in MSA levels
after the introduction of domestic animals; throughout the sequence. Radiocarbon
in South Africa a few post-contact paintings dates ranging between 26 ka and 28 ka from
526 . . .
Knight et al. (1995; cf. Knight, 1991; Power
Watts, 1996; Power Aiello, 1997) are
correct to highlight the importance of pig-
ment in understanding human behavior in
the African MSA.
In tropical Africa, lateritic soils provide a
plentiful and accessible supply of iron
oxides. In southern Africa, on the other
hand, where lateritic soils are less developed,
red ochre is less readily available. Delib-
erate mining for hematite, specularite (a
micaceous form of hematite), and manga-
nese, in both open cast and deeply excavated
caverns, has been documented for the
Figure 11. Painted slab from MSA levels at Apollo 11 historic, Iron Age, LSA, and, in a few
Rock Shelter, after Vogelsang, 1998. Photo courtesy of cases, MSA periods in southern Africa
Ralf Vogelsang and the Heinrich-Barth-Institut. (Dart, 1967; Boshier Beaumont, 1972;
Beaumont, 1973b; Beaumont Boshier,
the level containing the painted slabs have 1974; Robbins et al., 1998). Large scale
been reported (Wendt, 1976; Freundlich mining for hematite in the MSA is reported
et al., 1980; Vogelsang, 1998). These young from Lion Cavern in the Ngwenya Range,
dates are anomalous for material with MSA Swaziland, where Beaumont (1973a;
associations, and Miller et al. (1999) report Boshier Beaumont, 1972; Beaumont
an age of 59 ka for the MSA overlying the Boshier, 1974) reports that at least 1200
Howiesons Poort at Apollo 11, based on a metric tons of pigment were extracted
series of 62 isoleucine epimerization dates prehistorically from a cliﬀ-face exposure.
on ostrich eggshell from the sequence. Rubble ﬁll had accumulated to a depth of
4 m at the base of the cliﬀ; upon excavation,
the basal 76 cm of this ﬁll yielded tens of
Economy and symbolism
thousands of MSA artefacts. Radiocarbon
Pigment acquisition and processing dates on charcoal from this layer range from
Many early reports of MSA sites in both ca. 10 ka to ca. 43 ka. The older dates, best
South and East Africa mention ochre and regarded as inﬁnite, derive from materials at
grindstones, but these were often discounted a greater distance from the more recently
due to the uncontrolled nature of early exca- worked face (Beaumont, 1973a: 141),
vations and the possibility of mixing with showing how the face had moved inward
overlying LSA debris. Grindstones were with the passage of time. Similar large scale
sometimes discarded, and those that survive, mining operations for specular hematite,
if inadequately curated, cannot now be dating to the Holocene, is reported from a
examined for traces of pigment. Many were complex of cave sites in the Tsodilo Hills by
no doubt used for plant food processing. But Robbins et al. (1998). Mining at one of these
evidence is accumulating for the wide- caves, Rhino Cave, during the MSA is indi-
spread, controlled and systematic acqui- cated by the presence of specular hematite
sition, processing and use of pigment in the crystals, hammerstones, and grindstones in
MSA. While there is little archaeological MSA levels in the cave.
or biological evidence to support their Singer Wymer (1982) report a total of
idiosyncratic sociobiological interpretation, 180 pieces of red ochre from Klasies River
Figure 12. Red ochre from MSA contexts; (a) ground ochre, Klasies River (scale in cm), perforated by
marine origanism, after Knight et al. 1995, Figure 4; (b) notched ochre, Hollow Rock Shelter (scale in cm)
after Knight et al., 1997, Figure 3; (c) detail of 10(b). Photos (a) and (b) courtesy of Ian Watts.
on the Cape coast of South Africa. Many of [Figure 12(a)]; others are merely scratched
these show wear facets, and the authors and may have functioned as ‘‘palettes’’
suggest that the small pieces were used as [cf. Figure 10(b,c)]. The material is distrib-
‘‘pencils.’’ Some from the MSA have clear uted throughout the section; 14 specimens
traces of incising to remove pigment powder derive from the lowest (MSA I) levels in the
528 . . .
cave system, dated to 100 ka. Over 50% of MSA layers at Florisbad, South Africa (de
the ochre found at Klasies (n=102) comes Beaune, 1993), dated by ESR to 121 6 ka
from the Howiesons Poort levels that are (Grun et al., 1996). Ambrose (1998a: 384)
interstratiﬁed within the MSA, and dated to reports traces of ochre and an ochre-stained
65–80 ka. These levels yielded a cylindrical grindstone from basal levels at Enkapune ya
piece of red ochre ca. 3 cm long, with three Muto, Kenya, associated with artefacts of
depressions 40–70 mm deep. At Blombos, the MSA Endingi industry.
South Africa, many large pieces of At some East African sites, the presence of
hematite occur both the Still Bay and lower volcanics allows the use of the K/Ar and
undiﬀerentiated MSA. Several of these Ar/39Ar dating methods. At the site of
appear to have been cached in a small natu- GnJh-15 in the Kapthurin Formation,
ral niche in the cave wall (Henshilwood, Baringo, Kenya, the use of pigment in a
personal communication). Twenty-one context of great antiquity has recently come
pieces of ochre from Blombos have single to light. Here stone artefacts, fragmentary
or multiple holes up to 25 mm deep bone, and ostrich eggshell fragments lie on a
and 10 mm in diameter [Figure 10(a)] paleosol sealed by many meters of volcanic
(Henshilwood Sealy, n.d.). While these tephra. Pyroclastic material overlying the
were initially thought to have been drilled site has been dated by K/Ar to 240 ka
with a bone or wooden drill (Henshilwood (Tallon, 1978; McBrearty et al., 1996), and
Sealy, n.d.; Milo, personal communication), a current program of 40Ar/39Ar dating indi-
they are now believed to have been bored by cates an age closer to 280 ka (Deino
a marine organism (Henshilwood, personal McBrearty, under review). ‘‘Red stained
communication). earth’’ was observed in excavation at
Hematite pencils are reported throughout GnJh-15 by a team of Belgian researchers
the entire MSA sequence at Border Cave, (van Noten et al., 1987a,b; Cornelissen
South Africa; the age of the base of the et al., 1990 and references therein). New
sequence has been estimated at 100 ka excavations and reexamination of previously
(Beaumont et al., 1978; Miller et al., 1999). excavated material reveal that while the
Fibrous material, stained with iron oxide hematite fragments are too friable to pre-
and interpreted as bedding material, has also serve traces of grinding, they are numerous
been recovered from an MSA context at and widespread at the site (McBrearty,
Border Cave (Volman, 1984), and the 1999). The previously excavated samples
human infant burial (BC3) from the same consist of 74 items with a total weight of
site is stained through the application of 5 kg; these range in size from pulverized
hematite (de Villiers, 1973). Grindstones granular material weighing 3 g to large
stained with traces of ochre have been chunks 250 g. Excavations in 1997 re-
recovered from MSA levels at Pomongwe, covered more ochre and ochre stained
Zimbabwe (Walker, 1987), Die Kelders, grindstones likely used to process it. The
South Africa (Avery et al., 1997) and at Kapthurin discovery is not an isolated ﬁnd.
[Gi, Botswana. A total of 298 fragments of Pigment has recently been reported from an
ochre, at least 40 of them with clear wear early MSA context at the cave site of Twin
facets resulting from grinding, have been Rivers, Zambia. Here, three pieces of ochre,
found in MSA levels at Porc Epic, Ethiopia, one limonite, two hematite, have been
where age estimates based on obsidian recovered from artefact and bone-bearing
hydration indicate a minimum age of 77 ka breccia overlain by a speleothem dated by
(Clark et al., 1984; Clark, 1988). Large U-series to 230 ka (Barham Smart, 1996;
grinding slabs are also reported from Barham, 1998).
Summary and discussion H. sapiens. If that is the case, our species has
a time depth of ca. 250–300 ka, and its
H. sapiens appears early in Africa, but it has origin coincides with the appearance of
been argued by proponents of the ‘‘human MSA technology.
revolution’’ that the behavior of these early However, we are not seeking simply to
people was indistinguishable from that of move the ‘‘human revolution’’ back to the
more archaic hominids. In this paper we Acheulian–MSA boundary. Use of the term
provide a new way of looking at the origin of ‘‘revolution’’ implies not only profound,
our species that is more consistent with the but also rapid change (cf. Greene, 1999).
evidence. Popular treatments of these issues (e.g.,
The Middle Pleistocene African hominid Diamond, 1992) borrow the vocabulary of
fossil record provides reasonable candi- punctuated equilibria from paleobiology
dates for the ancestors of H. sapiens, and (Eldredge Gould, 1972), but even in
support for in situ evolution of H. sapiens paleontology, punctuated events are notori-
in Africa long before 100 ka. Improved tem- ously diﬃcult to document (Gingerich,
poral resolution and further scrutiny of the 1984; Gould Eldredge, 1996), and there
fossils themselves are needed to determine is no agreement about how rapid a change
whether the record represents a series of must be to qualify.
chronospecies or an adaptive radiation in There is no logical reason to expect a
late Homo. The degree of species diversity single sudden event to represent what we see
now known for our genus in the Earlier as essentially a cultural, not a neurological
Pleistocene leads us to favor a similar process (cf. Bar-Yosef, 1998). Figure 13
adaptive radiation in the Middle Pleisto- summarizes the ﬁrst appearances in Africa of
cene. The presence of coeval hominid the modern behaviors as discussed in this
species would help to explain the degree paper. The record shows that the new
of variability seen in the African Middle behaviors do not appear suddenly together,
Pleistocene archaeological record. In our but rather are found at points separated by
view, the appearance of modern human sometimes great geographical and temporal
morphological features in H. helmei by distances. It seems inappropriate to label
260 ka indicates that elements of a new changes accumulating over a period of
adaptation are already in place. 200,000 years either a revolution or a punc-
Both H. helmei and early members of H. tated event. Early modern human popula-
sapiens are associated with MSA technology, tions in late Middle Pleistocene Africa were
and thus it is clear that the main behavioral relatively small and dispersed, change was
shift leading to modernity lies at the episodic, and contact among groups inter-
Acheulian–MSA boundary about 250– mittent. This resulted in a stepwise progress,
300 ka, not at the MSA–LSA boundary at a gradual assembling of the modern human
50–40 ka as many assume. We have shown adaptation. Abrupt ‘‘leaps’’ are perceived
here that many sophisticated behaviors are at the northern and southern tips of the
present in the MSA. This implies increased continent, where the record is discontinu-
cognitive abilities with the appearance of ous, and where the impression of contrast
H. helmei, and behavioral similarities and has been enhanced by the practice of
a close phylogenetic relationship between comparing materials from the earliest Late
H. helmei and H. sapiens. It could be argued Pleistocene with those from the latest
that the specimens referred here to H. helmei Pleistocene.
are more correctly attributed to H. sapiens, From a terminological point of view, it is
and that H. helmei should be sunk into important not to conﬂate the African MSA
530 . . .
Figure 13. Modern behaviors and their time depths in Africa. Sally McBrearty Alison S. Brooks.
with the European Middle Paleolithic. that the terms ESA, MSA, and LSA are too
While MSA and Middle Paleolithic tech- vague, broad, and temporally imprecise to
nologies share common features (Thackeray be particularly illuminating when attempt-
Kelley, 1988; Thackeray, 1989, 1992, ing detailed behavioral reconstructions
2000), the evidence reviewed in this paper (Kleindienst, 1967).
serves to highlight their essential diﬀerences. The presence of stone working techniques
It is particularly critical that the Middle to such as backing in the African MSA at 80 ka
Upper Paleolithic transition in Europe not shows a level of technical competence not
be confused with the origin of H. sapiens. achieved until tens of thousands of years
The European Middle to Upper Paleolithic later ouside the continent. Microwear
transition represents the local replacement studies are in their infancy in Africa, but
of the Neanderthals by H. sapiens, while in from artefact design and ethnographic evi-
Africa, H. sapiens is a product of in situ dence it seems clear that MSA artefacts were
evolution. The African MSA–LSA tran- habitually hafted, and some of them were
sition is a cultural and technological change used as projectiles, perhaps in some cases
that occurred many tens of thousands of propelled by the bow. From the long-term
years later. Furthermore, the Middle to stylistic conservatism of barbed bone tools in
Upper Paleolithic transition in Europe is a Central Africa, and the slowness with which
change from mode 3 to mode 4 technology, this particular technology (but not bone
while in Africa, modes 3, 4, and 5 are all tools in general) spread beyond the great
already present in the African MSA. In fact, lakes region, Yellen (1998) concludes that
the diversity in stone tool industries suggests MSA exchange networks may have
remained regionally restricted. We would At other sites, grindstones appear to have
suggest that future research at lacustrine been used to process pigment, and red ochre
sites in this time range may well ﬁll in what dating to well before 200 ka is found both
now appear to be lacunae in the bone GnJh-15 in the Kapthurin Formation, and at
tool record. Other evidence suggests that Twin Rivers. Other sites show notching and
residential territories were large in the MSA, incising not only of ochre, but also of bone
especially in tropical Africa. Among modern and ostrich eggshell, most likely as part of a
foraging groups, long-distance social ties are symbolic or notational system. Determining
maintained through ritualized exchange in whether these objects represent elements of
part to reduce risk in times of famine a fully articulated symbolic system awaits
(Wiessner, 1982; Hayden, 1992). The further research, but a lack of formal art
presence of exotic obsidians at some East objects need not preclude the presence of
African sites indicates that the distances modern cognitive ability, as has been ob-
involved in some tropical Africa MSA served by Deacon (1989: 561). It would not
exchange networks exceeded 300 km. This be surprising if the widely dispersed human
activity may have involved both a higher groups of the African MSA did not signal
degree of planning and scheduling, and their identities as intensively as later, more
more complex interactions among early crowded populations. Mellars (1996: 371ﬀ)
human groups than has customarily been concludes that the rarity of purportedly
envisaged. The regional distributions of pro- ‘‘symbolic’’ artefacts in Mousterian contexts
jectile point styles suggest social networks on argues against their being part of a wide-
a similar order of magnitude. spread shared Neanderthal symbolic system.
Despite suggestions to the contrary, there Despite the relatively small number of exca-
is good faunal evidence to show that MSA vated MSA sites, the quantity and quality of
people were competent hunters who evidence for symbolic behavior that has been
brought down a variety of dangerous game reviewed here far exceeds that known for the
animals, some of them larger than their European Middle Paleolithic where the site
present day counterparts. Intensiﬁed and sample is more than ten times greater. Pig-
scheduled resource use are evident at sites ment processing and bead production, in
such as Mumba and Katanda, and the use of particular, are comparable in kind to that
both marine and freshwater ﬁsh and shellﬁsh seen in the Africa LSA and European Upper
can also be seen at Katanda, Klasies River, Paleolithic, and it is not extravagant to sug-
Blombos, White Paintings Shelter, Bir gest that they functioned within a shared
Tarfawi, and the Haua Fteah. Sophisticated symbolic system. MSA point styles, more-
bone tools were used in specialized, season- over, do show regional diﬀerences that are
ally scheduled ﬁshing at Katanda. Bone reasonably construed as stylistic.
points were also used at Blombos and poss- As a whole the African archaeological
ibly Klasies River. The general presence of record shows that the transition to fully
grindstones in the MSA indicates that plant modern human behavior was not the result
food processing was routine, and burned of a biological or cultural revolution, but the
geophyte residues in the Howiesons Poort ﬁtful expansion of a shared body of knowl-
levels at Klasies River suggests continuous edge, and the application of novel solutions
plant exploitation and perhaps resource on an ‘‘as needed’’ basis (cf. Ambrose
management similar to that practiced by Lorenz, 1990; Vishnyatsky, 1994;
the San inhabitants of the region in the Belfer-Cohen, 1998; Bar-Yosef, 1998). The
Holocene (Deacon, 1989; Deacon complex content of human cultures has
Deacon, 1999). been built incrementally, with cognitive
532 . . .
equipment present since at least 250 ka, in a is in part the result of simple population
process that continues today. growth coupled with environmental deterior-
The MSA–LSA transition is clearly ation, factors that go far to explain later,
decoupled temporally from the origin of more familiar archaeological phenomena
H. sapiens, and the transition was incremen- such as the origin of domestication in
tal in the tropics, as shown from the the Near East or the elaboration of the
gradual changes in artefact frequencies and late Upper Paleolithic in Europe. What
a diminution in artefact size that presages might have accounted for dramatic popu-
microlithic technology at sites such as lation growth in Africa early in the Late
Enkapune ya Muto, Mumba, and Aduma. Pleistocene? Throughout this paper, we
Some LSA elements appear quite early and have suggested factors that would have acted
some MSA elements persist quite late, sug- to increase infant survivorship and decrease
gesting that the transition was not only overall mortality rates due to either periodic
gradual but also episodic in nature. For starvation or accidental injury. Two of the
example, at Matupi, small microlithic cores most important of these are new tech-
predate 40 ka, whereas at Kalemba and nologies and risk-management strategies
Rose Cottage Cave, MSA radial and disc involving long-distance exchange. New pro-
core types persist as late as 25 ka. However, jectile technologies reduced the need to
it is particularly misleading to read the grapple at close range with large game
late survival of MSA ﬂake production tech- animals, and would have increased hunting
niques as a failure of South African H. productivity. Fishing technology allowed
sapiens populations to achieve behavioral humans to exploit a vast new resource.
modernity. As Wobst (1983) and others Not only would these technologies have
(e.g., Wynn, 1985; Goren-Inbar, 1988) decreased the territory required to sustain
have pointed out, the study of Stone Age a single individual, but they apparently
technology reveals only the lower limits of allowed expansion into entirely new
hominid cognitive capacity. After all, disc habitats, such as the tropical forest. As
core technology was widespread during the Stiner et al. (1999, 2000) have argued,
Neolithic in the Near East, and Australian the availability of small-scale resources
Holocene assemblages contain few formal may improve infant survivorship, driving
tools, yet there is no suggestion that either of further population expansion and contribut-
these populations were not behaviorally ing to a positive feedback system. In
modern! In fact, if the OSL, TL, and ESR addition, ﬁsh and shellﬁsh may provide
dates of ca. 60 ka for the Australian Mungo optimum maternal and child nutrition as
3 hominids are accurate (Thorne et al., a major source of omega-3 fatty acids
1999; Stringer, 1999; Bowler Magee, (Broadhurst et al., 1998; Crawford et al.,
2000; Gillespie Roberts, 2000; Grun ¨ 1999).
et al., 2000), humans possessed the means Long-distance exchange, maintained by
to cross large bodies of water at least 10,000 the use of symbolic systems, would also
years before the usual dates invoked for the have acted to increase population during
‘‘human revolution’’. the Middle Stone Age. Risk-management
strategies involving long-distance exchange
are at the heart of historically observed
Population growth and the MSA–LSA
hunter-gatherer adaptive systems (Gould,
1978; Wiessner, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1998).
We believe that the intensiﬁcation visible at Exchanges may involve marriage partners,
the MSA–LSA transition after about 50 ka raw materials, red ochre, objects of
adornment and technologically important population density, therefore, aﬀects not
items such as projectile points, knives or only economy and technology, but also
axes, often in exotic and colorful materials symbolic and linguistic aspects of social
carrying symbolic meaning. Such exchanges life and the pace of cultural change.
create far-ﬂung reciprocity networks that
can operate in times of scarcity to allow
Conclusions: the revolution that
exchange partners and their families access
to distant areas where resources are plentiful
(Yellen, 1986), thereby optimizing the map- The search for revolutions in western
ping of populations to resources, reducing thought has been in part, as Greene (1999)
infant mortality and contributing to overall points out, a search for the soul, for the
population maintenance. As in the case of inventive spark that distinguishes humans
small-scale resources, positive feedback from the rest of the animal kingdom.
would have produced further population Landau (1991) makes a convincing case that
growth and contributed to the expansion of many syntheses of human evolution are cast
such systems over time. in the mold of hero myth, with the clever
Environmental deterioration is the third hero passing through trials to achieve a
factor contributing to increased con- reward. It was the desire to believe that
centration of existing populations. The brain expansion preceded bipedalism that
technology that made LSA extractive fostered the acceptance of Piltdown and
intensiﬁcation possible was present in the the rejection of Australopithecus for many
MSA was early as 70 ka, both in South decades. We believe that by continuing to
Africa in the form of the Howiesons Poort insist upon revolutions, researchers, perhaps
industry, and in East Africa in the Mumba unwittingly, create a gulf separating humans
industry, but the need for intensiﬁcation from the rest of the biological world. By
became general in the Late Pleistocene as stressing human uniqueness, proponents of
successful MSA populations grew and the ‘‘human revolution’’ eﬀectively remove
placed ever more severe demands upon the origin of H. sapiens from the realm of
local resources. Crowding, decreased normal scientiﬁc inquiry (cf. Foley, 1987).
mobility and declining resources necessi- As Foley (1987) points out, all species
tated hunting more dangerous game, are by deﬁnition unique, and presumably
including less preferred food items in the each species has its own unique form of
diet, and developing more elaborate tech- consciousness. Humans no doubt share
nology for food gathering, processing and elements of their consciousness, as they do
storage. Population growth, a quantitative their behavior, with their close relatives.
phenomenon, has qualitative eﬀects upon Chimpanzees have been shown to use and
human lives, and competition over make tools and to engage in organized inter-
resources obviously aﬀects the nature of group aggression. Our close extinct relatives,
relations among groups. Possible responses the Neanderthals, were intelligent hominids
range from outright conﬂict (warfare), who demonstrated the skills needed to sur-
through claims of ownership by symbolic vive in a challenging periglacial environ-
signals, to cooperation and trade. Perhaps ment. It will certainly not be surprising if
more signiﬁcantly, the life experiences and they are shown to have possessed language
perceptions of a person who encounters or rudimentary symbolizing abilities, either
200 individuals in his or her lifetime are inherited from a common ancestor, devel-
substantially diﬀerent from those of some- oped in parallel, or learned from H. sapiens
one who encounters 2000. Increased through culture contact.
534 . . .
There is a profound Eurocentric bias in anatomy originated in Africa, the European
Old World archaeology that is partly a result Upper Paleolithic is freed of the encumbrance
of research history and partly a product of of false rhetoric about human origins and
the richness of the European material itself. human revolutions. Archaeologists working
The privileging of the European record is so on the later Pleistocene of Europe can seek in
entrenched in the ﬁeld of archaeology that it their data the traces of the ﬂow of people,
is not even perceived by its practitioners. ideas, and technology, and the signs of inter-
Works on the ‘‘human revolution’’ can trace actions among groups, as has been suggested
their ancestry to the urban and agricultural for the Chatelperronian and Szeletian records
revolutions of V. Gordon Childe (1934), (Harrold, 1983, 1989; Allsworth-Jones, 1986,
whose initial deﬁnitions were formulated as 1990; Koslowski, 1988; Mellars, 1996,
analogies with the industrial revolution of 1998a; contra d’Errico et al., 1998; Zilhao
eighteenth century Europe (Greene, 1999). d’Errico, 1998). We should expect the emerg-
Childe himself owed an intellectual debt to ing picture to be complex and to generate
Lewis Henry Morgan (1871), whose tran- controversy, as has been the case with the
sition from Savagery to Barbarism was seen debate over the earliest peopling of the New
as an inevitable step on the road to human World. Attention has already been directed at
progress. In this paper, at the risk of being sites in the Levant for what they may reveal
labeled as eurocentric ourselves, we have about these processes, but sites in other
used standards for behavioral modernity regions that are possible avenues of migration
derived from the European record, because out of Africa, such as the Nile Valley, the Sinai
these criteria are universally recognized and and Arabian peninsulas, southeastern Europe,
are frequently repeated in the literature. We the Maghreb, and Gibraltar assume greater
see this as a necessary initial exercise in the importance as well.
shedding of an inappropriate paradigm, and This view also challenges Africanist
believe that the more interesting and fruitful archaeologists to evaluate the African evi-
era of research into the questions raised here dence on its own terms. Rather than apply-
has only begun. The behaviors unique to H. ing arbitrary criteria for modernity, one
sapiens are to be discovered, not prescribed. could take the position that behavioral
It is not really reasonable to expect all early innovation drove the morphological changes
populations of H. sapiens to have made bone that are observed in early modern human
tools, eaten ﬁsh, or used paint. anatomy. When we realize that the modern
The ‘‘human revolution’’ is a semantic, as human adaptation appeared gradually,
well as a romantic issue, and our conundrum rather than suddenly, the process can be
stems from the use of the loaded term ‘‘mod- broken into its constituent parts, each
ern’’ to describe the behavior of people prior having its own origin and demanding its
to the sixteenth century, let alone those of the own explanation. It is necessary to establish
Pleistocene. Our lists of modern behaviors the nature of the changes, the order of the
are derived from populations living today or changes, and the pace of change in order to
those alive in the relatively recent past, who discover the causes. This presents us with a
all are or were products of their evolution and fresh opportunity to expand our under-
history. Past human populations were prod- standing of the range of behaviors practiced
ucts of diﬀerent histories, and the qualities by members of our own species.
stressed in our lists of modern behaviors may
have had little relevance for our ancestors. Acknowledgements
If it is acknowledged that both modern McBrearty’s current project in the
human behavior and modern human Kapthurian Formation is supported by
National Science Foundation grant and Polly Wiessner. Photographs are
number SBR-9601419; her previous work courtesy of Stanley Ambrose, Chip Clark,
at Muguruk, Simbi, and Songhor was sup- Chris Henshilwood, Julie Kokis, Richard
ported by NSF, the L. S. B. Leakey Milo, Ralf Vogelsang, the Heinrich-Barth-
Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Institut, and Ian Watts. Figure 4 was pro-
and the National Geographic Society. Her vided by Pierre-Jean Texier. Assistance in
research is carried out in aﬃliation with the putting together Figures 1, 2, 3 and 13, and
National Museums of Kenya and under a in tracking down and editing the large list of
research permit issued by the Oﬃce of the references was provided by Tamarra Martz,
President of the Republic of Kenya. She Ben Theis, and especially Christian Tryon,
would like to acknowledge the support of a who went far, far beyond the call of duty to
Chancellor’s Fellowship from the University help this paper see the light of day. Finally,
of Connecticut that allowed her to com- special thanks go to Andrew Hill and John
plete work on this paper. Brooks’ research Yellen for their helpful input as well as for
has been funded by National Science their sustenance and moral support without
Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, which this paper could never have been
the George Washington University Facili- completed.
tating Fund, and the L. S. B. Leakey Foun-
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