Nassarius kraussianus shell beads from Blombos Cave: evidence for symbolic behaviour in the Middle Stone Age

Citation

Material Information

Title:
Nassarius kraussianus shell beads from Blombos Cave: evidence for symbolic behaviour in the Middle Stone Age
Series Title:
Journal of Human Evolution
Creator:
d’Errico, Francesco
Henshilwood, Christopher
Vanhaeren, Marian
van Niekerk, Karen
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Nassarius ( local )
Provenance ( local )
Msa ( local )
Middle Stone Ages ( local )
Blombos Cave ( local )
Genre:
serial ( sobekcm )

Notes

Abstract:
Since 1991, excavations at Blombos Cave have yielded a well-preserved sample of faunal and cultural material in Middle Stone Age (MSA) levels. The uppermost MSA phase, M1, is dated to c. 75 ka by optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and thermoluminescence, and the middle M2 phase to a provisional c. 78 ka. Artefacts unusual in a MSA context from these phases include bifacial points, bone tools, engraved ochre and engraved bone. In this paper, we describe forty-one marine tick shell beads recovered from these MSA phases and tick shell beads from Later Stone Age (LSA) levels at Blombos Cave and the Die Kelders site. Thirty-nine shell beads come from the upper M1 phase and two from M2. Morphometric, taphonomic and microscopic analysis of modern assemblages of living and dead tick shell demonstrate that the presence of perforated Nassarius kraussianus shells in the Blombos MSA levels cannot be due to natural processes or accidental transport by humans. The types of perforation seen on the MSA shells are absent on modern accumulations of dead shells and not attributable to post-depositional damage. Their location, size, and microscopic features are similar to those obtained experimentally by piercing the shell wall, through the aperture, with a sharp bone point. Use-wear, recorded on the perforation edge, the outer lip, and the parietal wall of the aperture indicates the shells having being strung and worn. MSA shell beads differ significantly in size, perforation type, wear pattern and shade compared to LSA beads and this eliminates the possibility of mixing across respective levels. Thirty-one beads were found in four groups of five to twelve beads, each group being recovered in a single square or in two adjacent sub-squares during a single excavation day. Within a group, shells display a similar shade, use-wear pattern and perforation size suggesting their provenance from the same beadwork item, lost or disposed during a single event. The likely symbolic significance of these finds suggests levels of cognitively
Original Version:
Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 48, no. 1 (2004-09-28).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
This object is protected by copyright, and is made available here for research and educational purposes. Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce the object beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to copyright law must be obtained from the copyright holder.

USFLDC Membership

Aggregations:
University of South Florida
Karst Information Portal

Postcard Information

Format:
serial

printinsert_linkshareget_appmore_horiz

Download Options

close

No images or PDF downloads are available for this resource.


Cite this item close

APA

Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.

MLA

Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.

CHICAGO

Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.

WIKIPEDIA

Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.