Renewed Excavations at Montagu Cave, Western Cape, Southern Africa
Will Archer
Tue, 10/04/2018 - 18:30
SA Astronomical Observatory auditorium
Western Cape

Hominin behavior underwent dramatic changes after the onset of the Middle Stone Age. However, the mechanisms associated with the transition to the MSA from the preceding Acheulean remain poorly understood, partially due to the paucity of localities documenting a stratigraphic succession between the two techno-complexes.
     In southern Africa, rock-shelter contexts tend to be associated with modern human occupations, including some of the earliest known evidence for a range of different complex behaviours. The Acheulean, conversely, is traditionally associated with anatomically and behaviourally archaic species of the genus Homo, with occupation contexts most often found in open wetland environments.   
     Montagu Cave (South Africa) preserves a unique sequence with stratified deposits of Acheulean overlain by MSA occupations. Preliminary results from renewed excavations at Montagu Cave will be discussed, in relation to previous excavations of the site undertaken by Charles Keller in the 1960’s.
     Our current objectives include protecting and contextualizing the remaining MSA, and the deeply stratified Acheulian deposits using modern excavation and spatial recording methodologies. Our interdisciplinary approach includes studies on site formation processes, geoarchaeology, dating, lithic analysis, lithic raw-material studies, and phytolith identification. The renewed fieldwork program at Montagu Cave provides scope for investigating questions concerning hominin behavioural variability in a time window just prior to the period characterized by rapidly increasing complexity in the Southern African archaeological record.