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Early human use of marine resources and pigment in South Africa during the Middle Pleistocene

Article (PDF Available) inNature 449(7164):905-8 · November 2007with841 Reads
DOI: 10.1038/nature06204 · Source: PubMed
Miryam Bar-Matthews at Geological Survey of Israel
  • 40.38
  • Geological Survey of Israel
Hope M Williams
Hope M Williams
Abstract
Genetic and anatomical evidence suggests that Homo sapiens arose in Africa between 200 and 100 thousand years (kyr) ago, and recent evidence indicates symbolic behaviour may have appeared approximately 135-75 kyr ago. From 195-130 kyr ago, the world was in a fluctuating but predominantly glacial stage (marine isotope stage MIS6); much of Africa was cooler and drier, and dated archaeological sites are rare. Here we show that by approximately 164 kyr ago (+/-12 kyr) at Pinnacle Point (on the south coast of South Africa) humans expanded their diet to include marine resources, perhaps as a response to these harsh environmental conditions. The earliest previous evidence for human use of marine resources and coastal habitats was dated to approximately 125 kyr ago. Coincident with this diet and habitat expansion is an early use and modification of pigment, probably for symbolic behaviour, as well as the production of bladelet stone tool technology, previously dated to post-70 kyr ago. Shellfish may have been crucial to the survival of these early humans as they expanded their home ranges to include coastlines and followed the shifting position of the coast when sea level fluctuated over the length of MIS6.
LETTERS
Early human use of marine resources and pigment in
South Africa during the Middle Pleistocene
Curtis W. Marean
1
, Miryam Bar-Matthews
3
, Jocelyn Bernatchez
2
, Erich Fisher
4
, Paul Goldberg
5
, Andy I. R. Herries
6
,
Zenobia Jacobs
7
, Antonieta Jerardino
8
, Panagiotis Karkanas
9
, Tom Minichillo
10
, Peter J. Nilssen
11
, Erin Thompson
1
,
Ian Watts
12
& Hope M. Williams
2
Genetic and anatomical evidence suggests that Homo sapiens arose
in Africa between 200 and 100 thousand years (kyr) ago
1,2
,and
recent evidence indicates symbolic behaviour may have appeared
135–75 kyr ago
3,4
. From 195–130 kyr ago, the world was in a fluc-
tuating but predominantly glacial stage (marine isotope stage MIS6)
5
;
much of Africa was cooler and drier, and dated archaeologi cal sites
are rare
6,7
.Hereweshowthatby 164 kyr ago (612 kyr) at Pinnacle
Point (on the south coast of S outh Africa) humans exp anded their
diet to include marine resources, perhaps as a response to these harsh
environmental conditions. The earliest previous evidence for human
use of marine resources and coastal habitats was dated to
125 kyr
ago
8,9
. Coincident with this diet and habitat expansion is an early use
and modification of pigment, probably for symbolic behaviour, as
well as the production of bladelet stone tool technology, previously
dated to post-70 kyr ago
10–12
. Shellfish may have been crucial to the
survival of these early humans as they expanded their home ranges to
include coastlines and followed the shifting position of the coast
when sea level fluctuated over the length of MIS6.
The Middle Stone Age (MSA) was the technological phase (appear-
ing as early as 280 kyr ago
13
) of the origins of modern humans. South
Africa has provided a rich and important MSA archaeological record
that mostly post-dates 120 kyr ago, but many of the excavated sites
occur at elevations at which the MIS5e high sea stand (,16 m above
mean sea level at 123 kyr ago) would have washed out earlier depo-
sits
14
. Co-occurring with an increase in the frequency of known coastal
sites younger than 120 kyr is a burgeoning of material cultural com-
plexity. In addition to the later appearance of bone tools
15
and beads
3
,
there is extensive evidence for systematic use of pigment by 120 kyr
ago in South Africa
16
. Pigments near this age, or older, are patchily
distributed outside South Africa; for example, in Israel some are dated
to 92 kyr ago
17
, at Twin Rivers in Zambia they are dated to between 141
and .400 kyr ago
18
, and ‘red ochres’ from the Kapthurin Formation
in Kenya are dated to .285 kyr ago
7
.
Site PP13B (S34u 129 440 E22u 059 370)isaseacaveoverlookingthe
Indian Ocean in the quartzitic coastal cliffs at Pinnacle Point near Mossel
Bay (South Africa). It escaped the MIS5e high sea stand by virtue of its
elevation (115 m above mean sea level, see Supplementary Information
and Video). On the north and south walls of the cave is a variably
cemented MSA deposit (called the LC-MSA), whereas the floor is cov-
ered by a mostly uncemented MSA deposit (Fig. 1)
19
. We excavated
three areas in the cave, but our focus here is on the LC-MSA deposits,
which are the oldest sediments with significant anthropogenic input.
We recognize the following stratigraphic sequence in the LC-MSA
deposits, from bottom to top. The LC-MSA Lower has a weighted
mean optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) age of 164 6 12 kyr
(Table 1 and Supplementary Information, for all ages that we present).
It is a sandy deposit, the least cemented of all, with multiple lenses of
burnt carbonaceous material; micromorphology and frequency-
dependent magnetic susceptibility analysis show that some of these
are in situ combustion features. Lithics and faunal remains are abund-
ant throughout, but are concentrated in burnt lenses. The plotted finds
are inclined mostly between 0 and 15u, with few dramatic changes that
would indicate intrusions or disturbances (Supplementary Informa-
tion). The LC-MSA Middle (weighted-mean OSL age of 132 6 12 kyr)
is mostly ash, has multiple lenses of dark organic material that micro-
morphology shows are in situ hearths, and has a plotted find density
less than the LC-MSA Lower. The LC-MSA Upper is a heavily cemen-
ted zone with three sub-units: (1) a lower hard sandy and silty layer
containing reworked ashes that directly contacts and transitions into
the richer anthropogenic deposits of the LC-MSA Middle; (2) a layer of
shellfish stratified within an aeolian dune with a weighted mean OSL
age of 120 6 7 kyr; and (3) a dune that sealed the cave, and which has a
weighted mean OSL age of 90 6 6 kyr. Capping the deposit, the LC-
MSA Flowstone is a 5-cm-thick laminated flowstone with a rough and
wavy microscopically sharp boundary with the underlying LC-MSA
Upper. Six uranium series (U-series) ages on separate laminae range
from 39 to 92 kyr (Table 1), providing high resolution minimum ages
for everything below. Several forms of evidence suggest partial closure
of the cave from 39 to 92 kyr ago (Supplementary Information).
The LC-MSA Lower falls within MIS6, during which sea level was
lower than today. We have developed a three-dimensional Geographical
Information Systems (GIS) model (Supplementary Video and Infor-
mation) that joins offshore bathymetry to a relative sea level curve
20
and models the coastline at 1.5-kyr increments for the last 400 kyr.
Studies of modern and recent archaeological shellfish transport show
that foragers rarely transport shell over more than 5–10 km
9,21
.Our
model shows that the coastline was within that distance during MIS6
only at 167 kyr ago—a result concordant with the OSL ages.
The flaked-stone-artefact assemblage (n 5 1836) is quartzite
dominated (78%) and includes Levallois technology, often consid-
ered characteristic of the MSA
22
, as well as bladelet technology, which
is more typical of much later periods
10,11
(Fig. 2). The blades form a
continuous size distribution of widths from large blades to bladelets.
Bladelets here conform to the formal definition of blades less than
1
Institute of Human Origins,
2
School of Human Evolution and Social Change, PO Box 872402, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287-2402, USA.
3
Geological Survey of Israel,
30 Malchei Israel Street, Jerusalem 95501, Israel.
4
Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA.
5
Department of Archaeology, Boston University,
675 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.
6
Human Origins Group, School of Medical Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052,
Australia.
7
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, 2522, Australia.
8
Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch
7701, South Africa.
9
Ephoreia of Palaeoanthropology-Speleology, Ministry of Culture, Ardittou 34b, Athens 11636, Greece.
10
Department of Anthropology, University of Washington,
Box 353100, Seattle, Washington 98195-3100, USA.
11
Archaeology Division, Iziko-South African Museum, PO Box 61, Cape Town 8000, South Africa.
12
58 Eastdown House, Downs
Estate, Amhurst Road, London E8 2AT, United Kingdom.
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10 mm in width. Thirty-five plotted finds meet this definition and an
additional 29 bladelets or bladelet fragments were recovered from the
3-mm screens (Supplementary Information). Bladelet technology is a
significant component of the lithic assemblage: for example, in the
LC-MSA Lower the total number of true bladelets (n 5 64) exceeds
the total number of Levallois products (n 5 47).
There are 57 pigment pieces (93.4 g total) and most are from the
LC-MSA Lower. Forty-six are iron-rich fine-grained sedimentary
materials, and most have a pinkish-brown or reddish-brown surface
colour. Streak colour (Natural Colour System) shows the majority
(n 5 31) as intermediate reddish-brown, followed by saturated
reddish-brown (n 5 10), and saturated very red (n 5 7, high chroma
values and $75% redness). All can be classified as ‘red ochre’. Ten
pieces were definitely used (eight ground and two scraped) and two
pieces were probably used (both ground). Most ground pieces are
moderately to intensively ground on one principal surface (Fig. 2).
Saturated very-red values are disproportionately represented among
used pieces, suggesting preferential use of the reddest, most chromatic
ochre (Supplementary Information).
Fifteen categories of marine invertebrates are so far documented in
the PP13B deposits (Table 2): four categories to species level (Perna
perna, Choromytilus meridionalis, Scutellastra argenvillei and Turbo
sarmaticus), five to genus level (Donax spp., Helcion sp., Oxystele spp.,
Nodilittorina spp., Burnupena spp.), three to Family level (Mytilidae,
Patellidae and Turritellidae), one to Subphylum (shore barnacle,
Crustacea), and two to only molluscs (whelks and chitons), to which,
respectively, many families and an entire class belong. P. perna
(brown mussel) is dominant, followed by T. sarmaticus (giant peri-
winkle), limpets (S. argenvillei and Patellidae) and small numbers of
whelks. Brown mussels are the overwhelmingly dominant species in
the LC-MSA Upper. On the basis of current habitats
23
, the vast
majority of shellfish were collected from exposed to moderate rocky
shores and from tidal pools, easily achieved during daily low tides
and/or monthly spring low tides. The whale barnacle fragment is
tentatively identified as Coronula diadema
24
, and suggests scavenging
of beached whale blubber and skin with attached barnacles
25
.
For millions of years, hominin diet was restricted to terrestrial
plants and animals. The expansion to shellfish is one of the last
Table 1
|
Radiometric ages from the LC-MSA at PP13B
U-series ages for the LC-MSA flowstone
Sample
number
[U]
(p.p.m.)
234
U/
238
U
230
Th/
232
Th Uncorrected
age (kyr)
Corrected
age (kyr)
62 s
(kyr)
32204 1.22.58712 186 39.139.10.4
32203 0.06 2.47122 66 45.945.50.4
32202 0.97 2.39069 23.247.446.11.3
32200 0.495 1.84941 46.375 74.03 0.8
32201 0.36 2.39069 46 81.580.51.4
32205 0.79 2.05105 42.292.791.61
Optically stimulated luminescence ages on the LC-MSA sediments
Sample number Stratigraphic position Age (kyr) 62 s (kyr)
46447 LC-MSA Upper (upper dune) 88.310.0
111400 LC-MSA Upper (upper dune) 89.38.2
46467 LC-MSA Upper (lower dune) 119.08.8
20720 LC-MSA Upper (lower dune) 121.38.4
111401 LC-MSA Upper (lower dune) 116.710.6
111402 LC-MSA Middle 135.212.8
111403 LC-MSA Lower 161.915.2
20721 LC-MSA Lower 167.718.2
111406 LC-MSA South Profile (lower) 161.717.0
Ages are ordered stratigraphically from top to bottom.
95.5 95.0 94.5 94.0
18.25
17.75
18.00
Distance above sea level (m)
17.50
Locations of ochre Locations of shell
81
9
1
0
2
6
1
7
1
.
8
16
.
8
1
9
.
8
1
8
.
8
15
.
8
1
4
.8
11
.
8
1
7
.
8
12
.
8
13
.
7
18
.
7
1
9
.7
1
6
.
7
1
5
.
9
1
1
.7
1
4
.
9
1
2
.
9
1
3
1
9
.
4
1
2
.
9
15
.
9
1
6
.
91
7
.9
1
9
.91
8
.
0
21
.6
1
4
.
6
1
3
.
6
17
.0
2
2
.6
1
2
.
6
1
5
.6
1
6
.6
1
1
.
6
18
.
6
19
.7
13
2
2
.
5
1
9
.
7
1
2
.
7
1
1
.
5
1
8
.
0
23
.
5
1
7
.
5
1
6
.
0
24
.
5
1
5
.0
2
5
.5
1
4
.0
2
9
.
0
27
.
0
26
.
0
2
8
.
5
1
3
.12
1
.
1
2
2
.
5
12
.
123
5
1
.
5
11
.
1
2
4
.
2
21
.
1
27
.1
2
8
.
1
2
5
.
1
2
9
.
12
6
.
2
2
2
.
2
2
4
.2
25
.
8
1
9
1
7
.
4
.
81
4
7
1
.
7
1
7
.
8
1
6
19
.
0
2
4
9
1
81
.
2
24
N103
N102
N101
N100
N99
N98
N97
N96
N95
N94
N93
N92
N91
N90
N89
N88
N87
N86
E89
E90
E91
E92
E93
E94
E95
E96
E97
E98
E99
E100
E101
E102
E103
E104
E105
E106
E107
E108
E109
E110
E111
E112
E113
E114
E115
E116
E117
.
7
1
3
.
7
1
9
Excavated area of the LC-MSA
Unexcavated LC-MSA deposits
Western and Eastern Area excavations (non-LC-MSA)
.
7
17
.
8
1
4
N
a
b
c
Shell count
600
500
400
300
200
100
0
N95E109 (SE)
N94E109 (NE) N94E109 (SE)
LC-MSA
Upper
LC-MSA
Middle
LC-MSA
Lower
Figure 1
|
Contour map of PP13B, photograph of the LC-MSA eastern
section, and the frequency of shellfish and ochre. a
, The number of shellfish
per 50 cm 3 50 cm excavated quadrant (NE, north-east quadrant, SE, south-
east quadrant; N95E109, 95 metres north and 109 metres east of the zero
point; for explanation of MAP grid space see Methods ) for all layers north to
south.
b, A geo-referenced section photograph of the eastern section with
plotted ochre and shellfish on the photograph (see Supplementary
Information for an un-geo-referenced version), and the main divisions of the
layers indicated.
c, A contour map of 13B showing the location of the LC-
MSA deposits and the positions of the excavations within the MAP grid.
a
b
c
d
e
f
g
jk
m
l
hi
n
o
p
1 cm
1 cm
1 cm
1 cm
1 cm
1 cm
0 cm 5 cm
0 cm
5 cm
Figure 2
|
Ochre and lithics from the LC-MSA Lower. ac, Specimen 177.2
(moderately ground shale, moderately haematized, 17.1 g, NCS 3355 Y70R)
three views:
a, flaked surface. b, ground surface. c, close-up of ground surface.
d, Specimen 79092 (ground fragment, haematite, 6 g, NCS 6727 Y75R).
e, Specimens 81614 and 81681 (two conjoining ground fragments, siltstone,
2 g, NCS 3162 Y60R).
f, Specimen 81770 (Intensively ground fragment, coarse
siltstone, moderately haematized, 10.1g., NCS 3257 Y80R).
gi, Quartzite
bladelets.
j, Quartzite small blade. k, Quartzite bladelet. l, Quartzite bladelet
fragments, refit.
m, Quartzite core rejuvenation flake. n, Quartzite Levallois
blade.
o, Silcrete Levallois flake. p, Quartzite Levallois point.
LETTERS NATURE
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additions of a new class of food to the human diet before the intro-
duction of domesticates at the end of the Pleistocene. Coastlines have
few resources to attract hunter-gatherers if their diets do not include
shellfish and/or fish. Once they do, coastlines become attractive for
settlement and movement. It has been argued that shellfish exploita-
tion was crucial to a potential early coastal route of modern humans
out of Africa via the Red Sea coast
8
, and marine adaptations made
possible an early migration to Australia/New Guinea along a coastal
corridor
26,27
. Our results show that the coastal adaptation was present
in South Africa long before the postulated dates for these migrations
(after 120 kyr ago). Shellfish may have been a critical food source to
the survival of human populations when they were faced with
depressed terrestrial productivity during glacial stages such as
MIS6, a time when much of southern Africa was more arid
28
and
populations were isolated and perhaps concentrated on now-
submerged coastal platforms.
Shellfish can be a predictable food resource for humans
9
with
substantial nutritional benefits
29
. Shellfish collecting is often assoc-
iated with hunter-gatherer economic and social systems with greater
complexity and reduced mobility
9
, which are themselves excellent
contexts for stimulating symbolic expression through material cul-
ture. The PP13B ochre sample has all the hallmarks of pigment for
body-painting and perhaps colouring of other organic surfaces, and
thus joins a patchy sample of Middle Pleistocene evidence for pig-
ment use. By 164 kyr ago, there is preferential processing of the red-
dest pigments, as is present in more recent sites
16
, showing the same
pattern of pigment exploitation 40 kyr before its apparent fluor-
escence post 120 kyr ago. We have identified the earliest appearance
of a dietary, technological and cultural package that included coastal
occupation, bladelet technology, pigment use and dietary expansion
to marine shellfish, and is dated to a time close to the biological
emergence of modern humans.
METHODS SUMMARY
Owing to the small amount of preserved LC-MSA sediment, we conducted a
limited excavation of a 1.5-m N–S section. We excavated within 50 cm 3 50 cm
quadrants within squares, named by their bearing: NE, NW, SE and SW.
Excavations followed natural stratigraphic units (layers, features, and so on),
and thus square-quadrant stratigraphic unit provenance designation is the min-
imum assigned to any find. Sediment volumes were measured during excavation,
and bulk samples of sediment were taken from every unique stratigraphic unit.
All observed finds were plotted directly to Total Station in three dimensions,
whereas the rest were captured by nested 10-mmR3-mmR1.5-mm wet-sieving.
Screened materials were dried, packed in plastic bags and transported to the
field laboratory. All plotted finds were labelled with their specimen number in
black India ink. Finds were then sorted in the laboratory and provided to the
appropriate specialist for analysis (lithics, ochre and shellfish; see Author
Contributions). Inclinations of finds were calculated from two shots on opposite
ends of the finds. Lithics were analysed by a combination of typological, tech-
nological and metrical variables from a database of all plotted finds, and those
from the 10-mm mesh screen. Ochre was studied under a 10–403 zoom micro-
scope, and streak properties were ascertained by the production of a streak across
white porcelain plates. Shellfish were identified by comparison to known mod-
ern specimens. The backgrounds of all photographic images of artefacts in Fig. 2
were removed. No portion of any artefact image was retouched or otherwise
edited. Stratigraphic interpretations are derived from a combination of field-
based macro-stratigraphic observations, computer analysis of mapped stra-
tigraphic units, analyses of plotted find distributions, and micromorphology.
Dating of the sediments is accomplished by OSL and U-series techniques.
Full Methods and any associated references are available in the online version of
the paper at www.nature.com/nature.
Received 21 May; accepted 28 August 2007.
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Table 2
|
The MNI and weight of shellfish in the LC-MSA layers
LC-MSA Lower LC-MSA Middle LC-MSA Upper
Species collected as food MNI Weight (g) MNI Weight (g) MNI Weight (g)
Mollusca
Perna perna 14 118.539310.0 20 157.8
Choromytilus meridionalis 12.913.100.0
Mytilidae 12.017.600.0
Donax spp. 11.100.000.0
Scutellastra argenvillei 00.015.100.0
Patellidae 15.8527.01 0.1
Oxystele spp. 10.100.000.0
Turbo sarmaticus 19.4430.70 0.0
Burnupena spp. 10.210.010.1
Whelk 10.811.900.0
Chiton 10.710.200.0
Epibionts or brought in incidentally
Mollusca
Turritellidae 00 1,0.10 0
Helcion sp. 1 ,0.11,0.10 0
Nodilittorina spp. 10.140.310.2
Crustacea
Cirripedia
Shore barnacle 00 10.410.8
Coronula spp. (whale barnacle) 11.10 0 00
MNI, minimum number of individuals.
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24. Newman, W. A. & Ross, A. Antarctic Cirripedia: Monographic Account Based on
Specimens Collected Chiefly Under the United States Antarctic Research
Program, 1962
1965. Am. Geophys. Union. Antarct. Res. Ser. 14, 1
257 (1971).
25. Jerardino, A. & Parkington, J. New evidence for whales on archaeological sites in
the south-western Cape. S. Afr. J. Sci. 89, 6
7 (1993).
26. Kingdon, J. Self-made man and his undoing (Simon and Schuster, L ondon, 1993).
27. Bulbeck, D. Where River Meets Sea: A Parsimonious Model for Homo sapiens
Colonization of the Indian Ocean Rim and Sahul. Curr. Anthropol. 48, 315
321
(2007).
28. Deacon, J. & Lancaster, N. Late Quaternary Paleoenvironments of Southern Africa
(Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1988).
29. Broadhurst, C. L. et al. Brain-specific lipids from marine, lacustrine, or terrestrial
food resources: potential impact on early African Homo sapiens. Comp. Biochem.
Phys. B. 131, 653
673 (2002).
Supplementary Information is linked to the online version of the paper at
www.nature.com/nature.
Acknowledgements We thank the ISSR staff at ASU, the MAP staff for their
assistance, the Dias Museum for field facilities, SAHRA and HWC for permits, and
Waelbroeck for helping with sea level data. This research was funded by grants
from the National Science Foundation (to C.W.M.) and the Hyde Family
Foundation (to C.W.M.).
Author Contributions C.W.M. directed the excavations and is the project principal
investigator. Authors made contributions in the following areas: M.B.-M., U-series
dating; J.B., analysis of orientation and dip; E.F., three-dimensional GIS; P.G. and
P.K., micromorphology and geology; A.I.R.H., geology and sediment magnetics;
Z.J., OSL dating; A.J., shell analysis; T.M., E.T. and H.M.W., lith ics; P.J.N.,
co-direction of the excavations; and I.W., ochre. All authors discussed the results
and commented on the manuscript.
Author Information Reprints and permissions information is available at
www.nature.com/reprints. Correspondence and requests for materials should be
addressed to C.W.M. (curtis.marean@asu.edu).
LETTERS NATURE
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Vol 449
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18 October 2007
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METHODS
Excavation methods. Site PP13B was excavated within an arbitrary three-
dimensional coordinate system (grid) called the MAP grid. All horizontal coor-
dinates reported in this paper are in that grid space. It is tied to the South African
National Coordinate Reference System, and our elevation measurements are in
orthometric height above sea level as defined by that coordinate system. Our
horizontal coordinates can be transformed to the South African grid using a two-
dimensional conformal coordinate transformation, and from there to latitude
and longitude following the Gauss Kruger Conform Projection using the
Hartebeesthoek 1994 datum used by South Africa. In the MAP coordinate sys-
tem, a 1 m square is named by the planar coordinates of its south-west corner.
Published descriptions of our excavation methods are available
30,31
.
Photography methods. The incorrect light settings of the camera for the image
in Fig. 2b were corrected using Nikon Capture Editor 4 White Balance, with the
camera white balance reset to ‘daylight’. This correction was applied to the entire
image. Figure 2c is a cropped higher resolution image of the whole artefact
shown in Fig. 2b.
Much of the section photography presented here is geo-referenced to the MAP
grid, unless otherwise indicated. This is accomplished in the following way.
Targets are attached to the section approximately every 50 cm and these are shot
to the Total Station. The photographs are then brought into ESRI ArcGIS and
rectified (rotated and stretched) to the grid using those targets and their coordi-
nates. This process creates a photograph that is true to elevation and one dimen-
sion of grid space to within several centimetres of its true geometric space,
allowing one to plot on it finds that have been shot to the Total Station. There
is a slight degradation of the image during the rectification process. For this
reason, we have provided unedited versions of the two stratigraphic photographs
(Supplementary Figs 1 and 2).
The micromorphology photographs (Supplementary Figs 3 and 4) were taken
with a Zeiss Axioplan 40 POL polarizing microscope and an attached digital
camera (Canon Powershot G5). A microscope 312.5 magnification was used
and a 34 camera zoom. Digital image settings were auto-adjusted (for exposure,
shadows, brightness and contrast) with Photoshop CS2. This adjustment was
made uniformly to the entire image. No portion of the photographs was
retouched or otherwise edited.
Lithic analysis methods. In the laboratory, the plotted and 10-mm screened
materials were not washed. Each complete and fragmentary artefact was mea-
sured in standard multiple dimensions with a large number of traits recorded in a
relational database. A basic shape typology and Geneste’s
32
technological typo-
logy was recorded. All cores were recorded using the MSA typology of Volman
33
and the Geneste technological typology. Raw materials were recorded on the
basis of geologic classes, which were easy to visually discriminate (only 0.2%,
N 5 4 unidentified/other).
Sea level GIS model method. The multidimensional GIS databases discussed in
the text and featured within the Supplementary Video 1 were created using ESRI
ArcScene and ArcGlobe 9.2. ESRI ArcScene was used primarily to model site-
based archaeological and geological features within PP13B. The PP13B cave
model represents a collection of more than 800 points shot along the floor
and walls of the cave with a reflectorless Total Station. These points were then
used to create a TIN model with Raindrop Geomagic software. The LC-MSA
stratigraphic units visible in the model are a combination of 2.5-dimensional
polygons representing the upper and lower surfaces of each unit and multipatch
polygon convex hulls.
ESRI ArcGlobe was used for regional sea level modelling throughout the
Pinnacle Point/Mossel Bay area. Base terrestrial elevations are a combination
of regional SRTM 90 m digital elevation data and 1 m light detection and ranging
(LIDAR) data around Pinnacle Point. The Pinnacle Point cliff face is a TIN
model created from Total Station point survey data (over 30,000 shots) using
Raindrop Geomagic. Additional imagery within the database includes 30 m
resolution Landsat ETM1 images (Regional) and sub-orbital 1 m aerial pho-
tography (Pinnacle Point). The bathymetric data are a combination of high-
resolution 1 m side-scanning sound navigation and ranging (SONAR) around
Pinnacle Point and hand-digitization from published regional bathymetry
maps. Sea level data were created by clipping the bathymetry elevation model
to the listed depths below current relative sea level
34
and then converting the data
into z-aware 3D polygons. Tabular output of this model is presented in
Supplementary Table 1.
U-series dating methods. Six flowstone samples were collected from the flow-
stone capping the LC-MSA by chipping with a hammer from the horizontal
extent of the in situ flowstone. The entire flowstone as well as each sample was
mapped by Total Station. The flowstone was then cored to produce the micro-
morphology sample. Details of the U-series laboratory methods are presented in
Supplementary Information.
OSL dating methods. Nine sediment samples were collected from the LC-MSA
in the North Area of Cave 13B (Supplementary Table 2). Five of the samples were
collected from the LC-MSA Upper, of which two (46447 and 111400) were from
the upper-dune sand and three (46467, 20720 and 111401) were from the lower-
dune sand (see Supplementary Information for discussion of stratigraphy
details). The other four sediment samples were collected from the LC-MSA
archaeological sediments: sample 111402 from the LC-MSA Middle, and sam-
ples 111403, 111404 and 20721 from the LC-MSA Lower sediments. We also
collected one additional sample (111406) from the lowermost unexcavated LC-
MSA sediments cemented to the south cave wall. Details of the OSL laboratory
methods and results are presented in Supplementary Information.
30. Marean, C. W., Nilssen, P. J., Brown, K., Jerardino, A. & Stynder, D.
Paleoanthropological investigations of Middle Stone Age sites at Pinnacle Point,
Mossel Bay (South Africa): Archaeology and hominid remains from the 2000
Field Season. Paleoanthropo logy 2, 14
83 (2004).
31. Dibble, H., Marean, C. & McPherron, S. P. The use of barcodes in excavation
projects. The SAA Archaeological Record 7, 33
38 (2007).
32. Geneste, J. M. Analyse Lithique d’Industries Mousteriennes Perigord: Une Approche
Technologique du Comportement des Groupes Humains au Paleolithique Moyen. PhD
thesis, Univ. of Bordeaux (1985).
33. Volman, T. P. The Middle Stone Age in the Southern Cape. PhD thesis, Univ. of
Chicago (1981).
34. Waelbroeck, C. et al. Sea-level and deep water temperature changes
derived from benthic foraminifera isotopic records. Quat. Sci. Rev. 21, 295
305
(2002).
doi:10.1038/nature06204
Nature
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  • ... From MIS6-3 Homo sapiens began to adapt to a diversity of coastal 13,36 , tropical forest 37,38 , and hyper-cold 39, 40 environ- ments across Africa and Eurasia. Humans appear to have adapted locally to these environments, gradually developing new symbolic forms, technological production strategies, and subsistence behaviors. ...
  • ... Marine organisms including fishes and invertebrates have long been consumed by humans, with the earliest evidence extending back some 140,000 years to South Africa where shellfish and shallow-water fishes were consumed (Marean et al. 2007). Yet the development of fishing equipment is believed to have arisen 40,000 years later, based upon the oldest known fishing hooks found in East Timor (O' Connor et al. 2011). ...
  • ... The southern African sub-region provides some of the richest archaeological records for a key phase in the evolution of modern humans, dating between ~160-40 ka, when modern humans evolved, began displaying advanced behaviours, and then dispersed from Africa [1]. These advanced behaviours include the systematic exploitation of marine resources [2,3], heat-treat- ment of lithic raw materials [4][5][6], shell bead production [3,7], bone tool technology [8][9][10], the engraving of objects such as ochre nodules, faunal remains and ostrich eggshell [3,8,[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18], the use of pigments [2,15,19], and early microlithic technology and perhaps advanced pro- jectile weapons [20,21]. The south coast of South Africa is located within the Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) [22], a floral biodiversity centre with high levels of endemic plant species. ...
    ... The southern African sub-region provides some of the richest archaeological records for a key phase in the evolution of modern humans, dating between ~160-40 ka, when modern humans evolved, began displaying advanced behaviours, and then dispersed from Africa [1]. These advanced behaviours include the systematic exploitation of marine resources [2,3], heat-treat- ment of lithic raw materials [4][5][6], shell bead production [3,7], bone tool technology [8][9][10], the engraving of objects such as ochre nodules, faunal remains and ostrich eggshell [3,8,[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18], the use of pigments [2,15,19], and early microlithic technology and perhaps advanced pro- jectile weapons [20,21]. The south coast of South Africa is located within the Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) [22], a floral biodiversity centre with high levels of endemic plant species. ...
  • ... Regardless of the exact environment of the Beringia during the LGM, if the environment could support even transient populations of large-bodied mammals, it could likely have supported human popula- tions as well, especially if those human populations exploited marine resources in addition to terrestrial resources. Evidence for human ex- ploitation of marine resources dates potentially as early as the Middle Pleistocene ( Marean et al., 2007), and humans had arrived in Arctic Siberia as early as 32 ka ( Pitulko et al., 2004). Coastal migrations of human populations must occur under conditions in which hunter- gatherers can live, at least for short periods (Surovell, 2003). ...
  • ... Archaeological records have shown that the use of marine wildlife resources was critical to the survival of humans during the Middle Pleistocene period (125,000 years ago; Marean et al., 2007). This de- pendence and interaction produced, accumulated and organized a for- midable knowledge, called Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK), Indigenous Ecological Knowledge (IEK) and Fishers' Knowledge (FK) (Silvano, 1997;Olsson and Folke, 2001;Berkes et al., 2006;Lauer and Aswani, 2008;Davis and Ruddle, 2010;Ruddle and Davis, 2013). ...
  • ... The analysis of mollusk shell material is especially relevant within the framework of prehistoric archaeology. Shellfish have been an important dietary component since the emergence of anatomically modern humans (~300 kyr ago; de Lumley, 1966), due to their easy accessibility, reliable availability throughout the year and source of proteins and micronutrients essential for physical development (Erlandson, 2001;Broadhurst et al., 2002;Marean et al., 2007;Fa, 2008). ...
  • ... But the earliest bone tools, at 1.8-1 million years ago, long pre- date our species, as do the earliest hafted tools at 400 ka (d' Errico et al. 2003) and composite (multipart) tools at 285 ka (McBrearty 2007). Meanwhile, the practice of heating stone to alter its flaking properties was anticipated at Pinnacle Cave in South Africa at 164 ka ( Marean et al. 2007). Conus shell associated with infant burial at Border Cave dated to 80 ka (Pettitt 2011a). ...
  • ... Jury (2015) found a relationship between El Niño-Southern Oscillation, Southern Africa Interior rainfall, and sea surface temperature (SST) in a large domain encompass- ing the Agulhas Current system as a whole. These climatic impacts of Agulhas Current may even have played an important role in the survival of Homo sapiens in Africa in the distant past (Marean et al., 2007). ...
  • ... Correspondingly, subsistence behaviour rather is driven by the natural environments, i.e. the closeness to the sea, than by reciprocal innovation transfer. Exploitation of marine resources is documented in South Africa as early as MIS 6 and seems to be a common feature of Middle Stone Age and Middle Paleolithic behaviour ( Marean et al., 2007;Marean, 2011;Will et al., 2013). Although it seems tempting to imagine that humans living at the coast within sight of each other were curious to attempt journeys over the sea, the archaeological record does not support continuous interregional interaction. ...
  • ... Deep historical records offer valuable perspectives that can help aid modern restoration efforts and evaluate the health and structure of modern ecosystems. Marine shellfish make excellent candidates for historical ecological research agendas for four primary reasons: their remains are often well preserved in archaeological shell middens; they have been exploited by Anatomically Modern Humans for at least 165,000 years ( Erlandson 2001;Jerardino and Marean 2010;Marean et al. 2007); they often are ubiquitous in coastal archaeological deposits; and they can be excellent proxies for local environmental conditions ( Richardson 2001). A variety of archaeological studies have demonstrated the potential impacts of human foraging and natural climatic changes on marine shellfish populations around the world by tracking size changes through deep time (e.g., Allen 2012;Anderson 2001;Braje 2010;Braje et al. 2012;de Boer et al. 2000;Erlandson et al. 2008Erlandson et al. , 2011Faulkner 2009;Giovas et al. 2010Giovas et al. , 2013Jerardino 1997;Lasiak 1991;Thomas 2001, 2002;Milner et al. 2007; Morrison and Cochrane 2008; Morrison and Hunt 2007;Raab 1992;Swadling 1976;Whitaker 2008). ...
Project
Excavation of a Middle Pleistocene open-air elephant butchering site in southern Greece
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As far as I know no one has looked into this before. For the first time in history I am documenting evidencies that I interpret as habitational segregation of women and children in the Early Upper …" [more]
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The use of cryptotephra as a precise dating tool for archaeology and geology.
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To locate paleolithic/ paleoanthropological remains
Article
September 2010 · Journal of Human Evolution
    Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (PP13B) has provided the earliest archaeological evidence for the exploitation of marine shellfish, along with very early evidence for use and modification of pigments and the production of bladelets, all dated to approximately 164 ka (Marean et al., 2007). This makes PP13B a key site in studies of the origins of modern humans, one of a handful of sites in Africa dating... [Show full abstract]
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      Changing climates, environment, and sea levels during the Middle and Late Pleistocene must have had significant impacts on early modern humans and their behavior. However, many important archaeological sites occur along the current coastline of South Africa where the gradual slope of the offshore Agulhas Bank meant that small changes to sea level height potentially caused significant shifts in... [Show full abstract]
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        Excavations at a complex of caves and open air sites at Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay, Southern Africa have uncovered rich stratified assemblages of Middle Stone Age materials, including those from Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (PP13B) that comprises the first modernly excavated assemblage in southern Africa to be securely dated to the Middle Pleistocene. We report here on the complete excavated lithic... [Show full abstract]
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