Sunday , June 13 2021

Networking and trading ideas seen in tools of thousands of years

LOW: one of the excavation squares archeologists dug to investigate the past history of the Mertenhof rock shelter at Cederberg. Image provided

There are tens of thousands of years ago, our ancestors were networked and negotiated ideas with communities that were hundreds of miles away.

Recent discoveries of stone tools at Howiesons Poort in the South Cape have been found to have similarities with the tools excavated on Western Cape sites, more than 300 km away.

"While there are regional specificities in the tools of the different sites, the similarities of the Klipdrift Shelter with the Diepkloof Rock Shelter site are amazing," says Dr. Katja Douze, researcher at the Archeology and Population Laboratory in Africa.

The team examined thousands of multi-layered stone tools in the Klipdrift shelter in the Western Cape. The layers represented a period of time between 66,000 and 59,000 years.

They did this to establish how the stone tool design has changed over time.
The stone tools were then compared to those found on other Howisons Poort sites.

OLD FUNDS: the ribs, spine, pelvis and lower limbs of the youngest juvenile burial in the Mertenhof rock shelter. after the skull had been removed. Image provided

"The Klipdfrift refugee site is one of the few that contains a long archaeological sequence that provides data on cultural changes over time, such as Howiesons Poort," says Douze.

"This makes it perfect for studying the change in culture over time."
The researchers showed from the data, that there was a close interaction between distant communities, and this was shown by how they designed their stone tools.

"There was an almost perfect game between the tools of the Klipdrift and Diepkloof coats.
"This shows that there was a regular interaction between these two communities."

"This is the first time we can draw a parallel between different sites based on robust data sets and demonstrate that there is mobility between the two sites.

"This is unique to the Middle Age," says Douze.
His research appeared on the latest issue of PlosOne Magazine.

Researchers hope their study can help solve a mystery about why and how Howiesons Poort has ended.
"The decline of Howiesons Poort in the Klipdrift refuge shows a gradual and complex pattern of changes, of which the first" symptoms "can be observed long before the final abandonment of technology and the typical Howitsons Poort tools kits," says Douze.

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