Early evidence of San material culture represented by organic artifacts from Border Cave, South Africa


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Early evidence of San material culture represented by organic artifacts from Border Cave, South Africa

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Title:
Early evidence of San material culture represented by organic artifacts from Border Cave, South Africa
Series Title:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Creator:
D’Errico, Francesco
Backwell, Lucinda
Villa, Paolo
Degano, Ilaria
Lucejko, Jeannette J.
Bamford, Marion K.
Thomas F. G. Higham
Colombini, Maria Perla
Beaumont, Peter B.
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National Academy of Sciences
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1 online resource

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Bone implements, Prehistoric ( lcsh )
San (African people) ( lcsh )
Stone age ( lcsh )
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serial ( sobekcm )
Location:
Africa -- South Africa -- KwaZulu/Natal

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Abstract:
Recent archaeological discoveries have revealed that pigment use, beads, engravings, and sophisticated stone and bone tools were already present in southern Africa 75,000 y ago. Many of these artifacts disappeared by 60,000 y ago, suggesting that modern behavior appeared in the past and was subsequently lost before becoming firmly established. Most archaeologists think that San hunter–gatherer cultural adaptation emerged 20,000 y ago. However, reanalysis of organic artifacts from Border Cave, South Africa, shows that the Early Later Stone Age inhabitants of this cave used notched bones for notational purposes, wooden digging sticks, bone awls, and bone points similar to those used by San as arrowheads. A point is decorated with a spiral groove filled with red ochre, which closely parallels similar marks that San make to identify their arrowheads when hunting. A mixture of beeswax, Euphorbia resin, and possibly egg, wrapped in vegetal fibers, dated to ∼40,000 BP, may have been used for hafting. Ornaments include marine shell beads and ostrich eggshell beads, directly dated to ∼42,000 BP. A digging stick, dated to ∼39,000 BP, is made of Flueggea virosa. A wooden poison applicator, dated to ∼24,000 BP, retains residues with ricinoleic acid, derived from poisonous castor beans. Reappraisal of radiocarbon age estimates through Bayesian modeling, and the identification of key elements of San material culture at Border Cave, places the emergence of modern hunter–gatherer adaptation, as we know it, to ∼44,000 y ago.
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Volume 109, Issue 33
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6 p.

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University of South Florida
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University of South Florida
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K26-05575 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26-5575 ( USFLDC Handle )

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EarlyevidenceofSanmaterialculturerepresentedby organicartifactsfromBorderCave,SouthAfrica Francescod ’ Errico a,b,1 ,LucindaBackwell c,d ,PaolaVilla a,e,f ,IlariaDegano g ,JeannetteJ.Lucejko g ,MarionK.Bamford c , ThomasF.G.Higham h ,MariaPerlaColombini g ,andPeterB.Beaumont i a CentreNationaldelaRechercheScienti que,UnitéMixtedeRecherche5199,DelaPréhistoireàl ’ Actuel:Culture,EnvironnementetAnthropologie, UniversitéBordeauxI,F-33405Talence,France; b InstituteforArchaeology,History,CulturalStudiesandReligion,UniversityofBergen,5020Bergen,Norway; c BernardPriceInstituteforPalaeontologicalResearch,SchoolofGeosciences, d InstituteforHumanEvolution,and f SchoolofGeography,Archaeology,and EnvironmentalStudies,UniversityoftheWitwatersrand,Wits2050,SouthAfrica; e UniversityofColoradoMuseum,Boulder,CO80309-0265; g Dipartimento diChimicaeChimicaIndustriale,UniversitàdiPisa,56126Pisa,Italy; h ResearchLaboratoryforArchaeologyandtheHistoryofArt,UniversityofOxford, OxfordOX13QY,England;and i ArchaeologyDepartment,McGregorMuseum,Kimberley8300,SouthAfrica EditedbyRichardG.Klein,StanfordUniversity,Stanford,CA,andapprovedJune6,2012(receivedforreviewMarch11,2012) Recentarchaeologicaldiscoveri eshaverevealedthatpigmentuse, beads,engravings,andsophisticatedstoneandbonetoolswere alreadypresentinsouthernA frica75,000yago.Manyofthese artifactsdisappearedby60,0 00yago,suggestingthatmodern behaviorappearedinthepastandwassubsequentlylostbefore becoming rmlyestablished.MostarchaeologiststhinkthatSan hunter – gathererculturaladaptationemerged20,000yago.However, reanalysisoforganicartifactsfromBorderCave,SouthAfrica,shows thattheEarlyLaterStoneAgeinhabitantsofthiscaveusednotched bonesfornotationalpurposes,woode ndiggingsticks,boneawls,and bonepointssimilartothoseusedbySanasarrowheads.Apointis decoratedwithaspiralgroove lledwithredochre,whichclosely parallelssimilarmarksthatSanmaketoidentifytheirarrowheads whenhunting.Amixtureofbeeswax, Euphorbia resin,andpossibly egg,wrappedinvegetal bers,datedto 40,000BP,mayhavebeen usedforhafting.Ornamentsincludemarineshellbeadsandostrich eggshellbeads,directlydatedto 42,000BP.Adiggingstick,datedto 39,000BP,ismadeof Flueggeavirosa .Awoodenpoisonapplicator, datedto 24,000BP,retainsresidueswithricinoleicacid,derivedfrom poisonouscastorbeans.Reappraisa lofradiocarbonageestimates throughBayesianmodeling,andtheidenti cationofkeyelements ofSanmaterialcultureatBorderCave,placestheemergenceofmodernhunter – gathereradaptation,asweknowit,to 44,000yago. boneartifacts | chemicalanalysis | modernity | woodenartifacts A keyissueinhumanevolutioniswhenmodernculture,aswe knowit,emerged.Researchconductedinthelastdecadehas madeitclearthathumanpopulationslivinginsouthernandNorth Africa,aswellastheNearEast,haddevelopedkeycultural innovationsbyatleast80,000yago.Theseinnovationsinclude systematicuseofredpigmentforutilitarian(1)andperhapssymbolicactivities(2);productionandstorageofpigmentedcompounds(3);abstractengravingsonpiecesofochreandostrich eggshell(OES)(4,5);useofmarineshellsaspersonalornamentsat coastalandinlandsites,someofwhichwerecoveredwithpigment (6);productionofboneprojectilepointsandshapedbonetools usedindomesticactivities(7);complexhaftingtechniquesinvolvingtheuseoforganicandmineralingredients(1);controlled useofpyrotechnologytofacilitatethemanufactureofre nedlithic projectilepointsbymeansofpressure aking(8);andtheuseof backedlithicstoproducecompositetoolsandtoarmspearsor arrows(9,10).Theseinnovationsareconsideredbymanyasthe earliestmanifestationsof “ modernbehavior, ” althoughthecriteria thatde nebehavioralmodernityaremuchdebated(11 – 14).Such innovationsareusedtosupportascenariothatpostulatesacausal connectionbetweentheoriginofourspeciesinAfrica 200kaand agradualemergenceofmodernculturesonthatcontinent.This modelpredictsagradualaccretionofculturalinnovationsin Africa,whichfacilitatedthespreadofourspeciesoutofAfricaand thereplacementofarchaichomininforms(11). Althoughtheaboveinnovationsmayreasonablybeseenas instancesofculturalcomplexity,thearchaeologicalrecordalertsus toanumberofcaveats.First,Neanderthalsexhibitedmanycomplexbehaviors(pigmentuse,funerarypractices,complexhafting techniques,wood-working,personalornamentation,andbonetool manufacture)beforeorattheverymomentofcontactwithmodern humans(13,15 – 18).Second,manyoftheinnovationsareonly foundatafewsitesofagiventechnocomplex,whichmakesone wonderwhethertheycanbeconsideredasintegralfeaturesofthose culturalsystemsorjusttheexpressionsoflocaltraditions(7,12). Third,manyoftheinnovationsrecordedinAfricaandtheNear Eastdisappearinastaggeredmannerbetween70kaand50ka.In southernAfrica,thecomplexadaptationsassociatedwiththeStill BayvanishedattheonsetofMarineIsotopeStage4( 70ka),and thiseventisfollowedbyapossiblearchaeologicalhiatusof6,000y (19).ThesubsequentHowiesonsPoort(HP)developednewinnovativeculturalfeaturesthatdisappearat 59ka.Thesegiveway, duringthepost-HowiesonsPoort(post-HP),tolargeunifacial pointson akesthatby40kadisappeartogiverisetotheproductionofmicrolithsobtainedwithabipolarknappingtechnique (10,20,21).Thisdisappearancehasbeenattributedtoclimatic change(22,23),decreaseorlackofpopulation(24),andchangesin themechanismsofculturaltransmission(12).Whateverthereason, thispatternevidencesmajordiscontinuitiesinculturaltransmission thatappeartoseparatetheearliestinstancesof “ modernity ” from thosethatweseeassociatedwithhistoricallyknownhunter – gatherersinsouthernAfricaandtheirarchaeologicalantecedents. Thetruthisthatwehavelittleideaaboutwhathappenedin southernAfricabetween40kaand20ka,anditisatpresent dif culttoassesstherelationship,ifany,betweenthesuiteof culturaladaptationsrecordedbefore60kaandthosethat emergedwiththeLaterStoneAge(LSA).Inlightofthisreality, makinginferencesaboutMiddleStoneAge(MSA)societies basedonwhatweknowaboutmodernhunter – gatherersfrom southernAfricaisproblematic. Sanmaterialculture,anditsimmediateantecedentswithwhich itkeepsclearties,comprisesmanydistinctfeatures,suchas huntingwithbowsandarrows,useofcompositepoisonedbone arrowheads,relativelyshortandlightspears,organiccompounds, diggingsticksweightedwithboredstones,standardizedOES beads nishedwithgroovedstones,andnotchedsticksusedas countingsystems(25 – 27).Theseelements,whichwereoriginally widespreadacrossdifferentgeographicandecologicalsettings, appearinseparablefromSansocialorganization,worldview,and symbolicsystems(28,29).Thesepracticesarebasedonegalitarianism, uidbandmembership,andperiodsofaggregation Authorcontributions:F.d.,L.B.,P.V.,andP.B.B.designedresearch;F.d.,L.B.,P.V.,I.D.,J.J.L., M.K.B.,T.F.G.H.,andM.P.C.performedresearch;F.d.,L.B.,I.D.,J.J.L.,M.K.B.,T.F.G.H.,and M.P.C.analyzeddata;andF.d.andL.B.wrotethepaper. Theauthorsdeclarenocon ictofinterest. ThisarticleisaPNASDirectSubmission. 1 Towhomcorrespondenceshouldbeaddressed.E-mail:f.derrico@ipgq.u-bordeaux1.fr. Thisarticlecontainssupportinginformationonlineat www.pnas.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10. 1073/pnas.1204213109/-/DCSupplemental . 13214 – 13219 | PNAS | August14,2012 | vol.109 | no.33www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1204213109

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duringwhichsocializing,ritualintensi cation,andgiftexchange ofitemssuchasbeadworkandarrowpointstakeplace,which helpconsolidatesocialbonds(25,26,28 – 30).Thisobservation raisesthequestionofwhenthisrecognizablymoderncultural system,forwhichwehaveadirectlinkwithlivingpeople, emergedinthepast.Opinionsdivergeonwhenandhowthis emergencehappened,mostlybecausenoconsensusexistsonthe classi cationoflithicindustriesbetween40kaand22ka(21)and whenandhowdistinctLSAtoolkitsappearinthearchaeological record.Thedatingofkeyarchaeologicalcontextsisalsocontentious(21,31,32). Inaddition,mostSanmaterialcultureismadefromorganic matterthatisrarelypreservedinthearchaeologicalrecord.Bone pointsareknownatfoursouthernAfricansites(BorderCave, Boomplaas,NelsonBayCave,andBushmanRockShelter) datedtobetween39kaandtheHolocene,atwhichtimethey becomecommon(30,32).Poisonedbonearrowpointssimilarto thoseusedbySanarethoughtbymosttoappearonlyafter12ka (33,34),andperhapsmuchlater(35).EarlyoccurrencesofOES beadscomefromanumberofMSAsitesinsouthernandeastern Africa,someofwhichare > 40ka(35 – 37),buttheirlownumbers makeitdif culttoascertainwhethertheyre ecttheemergence ofagiftexchangesystemcomparabletothe hxaro systemamong theSan(30).Personalornamentsbecomemorevariedafter 13kawhentheyincorporatebonebeads,pendants,tubesmade ofbirdandmammalbonedecoratedwithspiralincisions,and raremarineshells(30 – 32).Ifboredstonesaretakenasanindicatoroftheuseofdiggingsticks,theoldestsecureoccurrences arefoundatMatupi,Zaire(38),inlevelsdatedto 20ka.Two fragmentsofboredstonefromaleveldated45kato44kaat BorderCavehavebeenconsideredtoosmalltohavebeenused toweightadiggingstick(refs.31and32,butseeref.21).The rstsecureevidenceofwoodendiggingsticksisfoundinthe mid-HoloceneatGwishoHot-springs,Zambia(39),andlater,at anumberofsitesfromSouthAfrica(21,40). Insum,mostarchaeologistsbelievethattheSanlifestyle extendsback 20kabutthat,despiterecordedregionaland temporalvariationwithintheLSA(30,32,40),clearcontinuity betweenmodernandprehistoricsocietiesinthemoreintimate aspectsoftheircultureistraceableonlyfromthebeginningof theHolocene(32,33,40).TheBorderCavesequence( SIAppendix,ArchaeologicalContext )preservesintheupperlayers 1WAand1BSLowerB-C,attributedtotheEarlyLaterStone Age(ELSA) — evidencesupportingtheviewofanearlyemergenceofSanmaterialculture(41).However,thelithicassemblagesfromthepost-HP/MSA3andtheELSAlayersatthissite havenotbeen,untilnow,analyzedindetail.Thisneglectalso appliestothevariedcollectionoforganicartifacts,manyof whichhavenotbeendescribedindepth,despitetheirpossibly beingtheoldestevidenceofrecognizablymodernculture.Considerableefforthasbeeninvestedinthelasttwodecadestore ne thechronostratigraphicframeworkofthissite(42,43).Theaimof thiswork,inthecontextofdirectdatingofkeyitems,istomakea comprehensiveanalysisoftheorganicartifactsfromBorderCave upperlevels,inconjunctionwithacompanionpaper(21)devoted tothelithics,andtodiscusstheimplicationsofthese ndingsfor theoriginofmodernculturaladaptationasweknowit. Results Dating. ReappraisalofESRand 14 Cageestimates,andBayesian modelingofcalibratedradiocarbonagesconductedinthe frameworkofthisstudy( SIAppendix,ArchaeologicalContext and Figs.S1 – S4 ),indicate,frombottomtotop,thatlayer2WAis datedto60kaand2BSLowerA-Bto > 49ka.Layer2BSUP accumulatedbetween49kaand45ka,1WAbetween44kaand 43ka,1BSLowerB-Cbetween43kaand42ka,and1BSLower Abetween41kaand22ka.Thearchaeologicalmaterialanalyzedinthisstudycomesfromlayers2WA,2BSLowerC,1WA, and1BSLowerB-C. WorkedTusks. Eightworkedtuskscomefromthepost-HPand ELSAlayers(Table1;Fig.1, 1 – 8 ;and SIAppendix,Results and TableS1 ).Theyconsistofnaturallyorarti ciallysplitwarthog ( Phacochoerusaethiopicus )orbushpig( Potamochoeruslarvatus ) lowercanines.Theypreservetheremainsoftheocclusalwear facet,indicatingapreferenceforadultindividuals.Thefacetsare coveredbynaturalobliquelyorientedparallelstriationsthat mimicarti cialgrindingmarks.Onthesplitsurface,thedentine isentirelyscraped,orscrapedandground( SIAppendix,Results andFigs.S5andS6 ),toproducearobusttip,triangularinsectionwithsidescomprisingoneworkedaspect,theocclusalfacet, andunmodi edenamel.Onasinglespecimenfromlayer1BS LowerB-C,theocclusalfacetwasmodi edbyscraping,andthe splitsurfacewasleftunworked.Onthreespecimens,grinding Table1.Contextanddescriptionoforganicartifactsfrom BorderCave LayerSquare Description (animalsource)*Tech.Fig. 1BSL.B-CW16Bonepoint — 2, 7 1BSL.B-CQ23BonepointS2, 6 1BSL.B-CT18Notchedbone(4)I1, 12 1BSL.B-CS19ShellbeadGP2, 23 1BSL.B-CT20Bonepoint † S2, 5 1BSL.B-CQ21Tuskpreform(2)S1, 8 1BSL.B-CR23OESbeadGP2, 21 1BSL.B-CR24OESbeadGP2, 20 1BSL.B-CR22OESbeadGP2, 19 1BSL.B-CQ16Tuskpoint(2)SI1, 7 1BSL.B-CQ21Woodenstick ‡ SI2, 26 1BSL.B-CQ21WoodenstickSI2, 26 1BSL.B-CQ21WoodenstickSI2, 26 1BSL.B-CQ21WoodenstickSI2, 26 1BSL.B-CS20Wooddiggingstick — 2, 25 1BSL.B-CS19LumpofbeeswaxB2, 24 1WAV21NotchedboneI1, 11 1WAW16Notchedbone(4)I1, 10 1WAR18ShellbeadP2, 22 1WAT22Workedtusk(2)SG1, 6 1WAT22BoneawlSG2, 4 1WAQ17BoneawlS2, 3 1WAS19Bonepointfrag. † SE2, 2 1WAS19Bone-shapedfrag.S2, 1 1WAQ19OESbeadGP2, 18 1WAQ24OESbeadGP2, 17 1WAQ24OESbeadGP2, 16 1WAT18OESbeadGP2, 15 1WAS23OESbeadGP2, 14 1WAS23OESbeadGP2, 13 1WAR20OESbeadGP2, 12 1WAS19OESbeadGP2, 11 1WAT19OESbeadGP2, 10 1WAT19OESbeadGP2, 9 1WAR19OESbeadGP2, 8 2BSL.CS21Workedtusk(2)S1, 5 2BSL.CR20Workedtusk(2)S1, 4 2BSL.CS23Tuskawl(1)G1, 3 2WAT19NotchedboneI1, 9 2WAQ21Tuskawl(2)SG1, 2 2WAR18Workedtusk(2)S1, 1 Tech.,technique;L.,lower;I,incised;G,ground;B,bound;P,perforated; E,engraved;S,scraped;frag.,fragment. *1,warthog;2,warthhogorbushpig;4,baboon bula. † Ochreresidue. ‡ Residue. d ’ Erricoetal. PNAS | August14,2012 | vol.109 | no.33 | 13215 ANTHROPOLOGY

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marksonthetiparesmoothedbywear,suggestingtheiruseas awlstopiercesoftmaterial(Fig.1, 2 , 3 ,and 6 ;and SIAppendix, Results andFig.S5 ).Afterbeingmodi edbyscrapingtocreatea lanceolateshape,onespecimenfromlayer1BSLowerB-Cwas thinnedatoneendwithtransversecloselyspacedincisions, probablytofacilitatehafting(Fig.1, 7 ;and SIAppendix,Results andFig.S6 ). NotchedBones. Fourbonesbearsetsofnotchesproducedbythe to-and-fromovementofalithiccuttingedge(Table1;Fig.1, 9 – 12 ;and SIAppendix,Results ,Figs.S7 – S9,andTableS1 ).The piecefrom2WAdisplaysanincompletesequenceof12irregularlyspacednotchesproducedinasinglesessionbythesame broadcuttingedge(Fig.1, 9 ).Thesecondpiece,heavilyburnt, fromlayer1WA,recordsanincompletesetofregularlyspaced anddeeplyincisednotchesproducedbythesametool(Fig.2, 10 ).Thesurfaceoftheobjectclosetothenotchespreserves residuesofredpigmentandishighlypolished,suggestinglongtermmanipulationortransport.Aribfragmentfrom1WAshows twogroupsofnotchesalongthesameedge(Fig.1, 11 ).The rst groupiscomposedoftwodifferentlyorientedsubsetsincisedby thesametool;thesecondisrepresentedbytwonotchesproducedbyadifferenttool.Theobjectfromlayer1BSLowerB-C isadiaphysisofarightbaboon bulapresentingontheinterosseouscrestanincompletesequenceof29notches,andonthe proximalhalfoftheotherthreeaspectsarewornobliqueshallow incisions(Fig.1, 12 ;and SIAppendix,Results andFigs.S8and S9 ).Thesurfaceoftheobjectisheavilypolished,suggesting long-termuse.Microscopicanalysisidenti esfoursetsofnotches, eachmadebyadifferenttool.Threesetsarecomplete;oneis interruptedbybonebreakage.( SIAppendix,Results andFig.S9 ). Thewidelyandirregularlyspacedlocationofthenotchesfrom thefourthset,composedofthreenotches,suggeststhatthey wereincisedaftercompletionofthe rstthreesets. BoneTools. SevenbonetoolswerefoundinELSAlayers(Fig.2, 1 – 7 ;and SIAppendix,Results ,Figs.S10 – S12,andTableS1 ). Fourcomefromlayer1WA.The rstisalongbonefragment, fullyshapedbyscrapingtoproduceastraightshaft,ellipticalin section(Fig.2, 1 ).Thesecondisabrokenburntfragmentofa thinpointmadeonasmallmammallongboneshapedby scrapingandsubsequently nelydecoratedwithanincisionthat spiralsarounditssurfaceforthelengthofthepiece(Fig.2, 2 ). Theincisionisstillpartially lledwithredpigment.EnergydispersiveX-rayanalysisindicatesthatthepigmentismainly composedofC,Si,Fe,Mg,Al,andTi,suggestingtheuseofan iron-richclayretaininganorganiccontent( SIAppendix,Results andFig.S10 ).Theelementalcompositionofthepigmentis differentfromtheremainderoftheobject,andthesediment comprisinglayer1WAdoesnotcontainclay,indicatingthatthe pigmentwasintentionallyapplied.Thethirdworkedbone,shapedbyscraping,isthemesialportionofabrokenbonetool, probablyanawl,representedbythreefragments(Fig.2, 3 ).The fourthistheburntworkingendofastoutawlshapedbyscraping, thetipofwhichwasresharpenedbygrinding,probablyafter breakage(Fig.2, 4 ;and SIAppendix,Results andFig.S11 ).The last4mmofthetipishighlypolished,suggestingintenseuse wearonasoftmaterial.Thetoolunderwenta nallongitudinal breakbeforebeingabandoned.Thethreebonetoolsfrom1BS LowerB-Caredistalportionsofpointsshapedbyscraping(Fig. 2, 5 – 7 ;and SIAppendix,Results andFig.S12 ).Principalcomponentanalysisofthethicknessandwidthofthebonepointsat 5,10,and30mmfromthetip( SIAppendix,Results ,Fig.S13,and TableS2 )identi esasimilaritybetweentheBorderCave specimensandthosefromLSA,IronAge,andSanhunter – gathererbonearrowpointsusedwithpoison,andadeparture fromMSAbonepoints. PersonalOrnaments. FourteenOESbeadsandtwoperforated Nassariuskraussianus shellscomefromlayers1WAand1BS LowerB-C(Table1;Fig.2, 8 – 23 ;and SIAppendix,Results ,Figs. S14andS15,andTableS3 ).OESbeadsincludetwoperforated preformsfrom1WAthathavetrimmedbutun nishededges,the productofastageofmanufacturefoundatLSAsitesandobservedamongSanwomen(44).The nishedbeadshavetracesof use.Bothconicalandcylindricalperforationsarerecordedinthe twolayers,suggestingvariabilityinthetipmorphologyofthe perforatorsandpossiblyinthedrillingtechniquesused( SIAppendix,Results andFig.S14 ).Anumberofbeadsbearcircular, perfectlycylindricalholes,indicatingtheuseofathinpointhafted onawoodensticktofacilitatethedrillingmotioncreatedbythe to-and-fromovementofrubbinghandstogether.Thistechniqueis observedethnographicallyamongtheSan(25,28,29).Fourbeads from1WAarehomogeneouslyblackenedbyheating( SIAppendix,Results andFig.S14 ).AnalysisofOESbeadsfromLSAsites hasshownthatburntbeadsmaybesigni cantlydifferentinsize fromtheunburnedones(45),suggestingthattheblackeningwas intentional.Experimentalreproductionofthisprocessbythe Fig.1. Implementsmadeonwarthogorbushpig lowercanines( 1 – 8 )andnotchedbones( 9 – 12 )from BorderCave.(Scalebars:1cm.) 13216 | www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1204213109 d ’ Erricoetal.

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sameauthorsindicatesthattoobtainhomogeneouslyblackened beads,oneneedstoheatthematalowtomoderatetemperature inareductiveenvironmentwiththeadditionoforganicmaterial. Withtheexceptionofasinglespecimen,thediameterandapertureofOESbeadsfromBorderCavefallwithinthesizerange oflargeOESbeadsfoundatLSAsites( SIAppendix,Results ,Fig. S16,andTableS4 ).Intheframeworkofthisstudy,oneOESbead from1BSLowerB-C(Table1)wasdirectlydatedto38,020+ 1240/ Š 1070KIA44423(44,856 – 41,010calBP).Both N.kraussianus shellsbeartracesofuseintheformofsmoothingaround theperforationandafacetontheparietalwall( SIAppendix, Results andFig.S15 ).Thespecimenfrom1BSLowerB-Cbears, inaddition,usewearfacetsonthelipandtwoadjacentfacetson thebodywhorlabovetheperforation.Facetssimilartothoseon theliparefoundonthe N.kraussianus beadsfromtheStillBay layersatBlombosCavebutareabsentonLSAbeadsstudiedto Fig.2. Boneawlsandpoints( 1 – 7 ),OESbeads( 8 – 21 ), N.kraussianus beads( 22 and 23 ),lumpoforganicmaterialboundwithvegetal bers( 24 ),diggingstick ( 25 ),poisonapplicator( 26 ),andgaschromatogramsofthelipidfractionextractedfromtheresiduefromoneendofthepoisonapplicator( 27 )andfromthe lumpoforganicmaterial( 28 ).(Scalebars:1cm.) d ’ Erricoetal. PNAS | August14,2012 | vol.109 | no.33 | 13217 ANTHROPOLOGY

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date(46).Facetsonthebodywhorlaresofarunparalleledand suggesttheuseofadistinctstringingarrangement. DiggingStick. Twoofthe14well-preservedpiecesofwoodrecoveredfrom1BSLowerB-Caresimilarindiameterandappearance,suggestingthattheywereoriginallypartofthesame object.Thelongerpieceshowsatoneendevidenceofrounding andcrushing(Fig.2, 25 ;Table1;and SIAppendix,Results and Fig.S17 ).Ononeaspect,anelongatedfacetalmostentirely removedbyalongitudinalbreakemanatesfromthetip,whereas theoppositeaspectbearsashortbreak.SanandLSAdigging sticks,withasingleordoublebevel,showsimilarmodi cations oftheirworkingend,includingelongatedbreaksandcrushingof thetip.ThethicknessoftheBorderCavespecimenfallsatthe lowerendoftherangeofSanandknownLSAdiggingsticks( SI Appendix,Results ,Fig.S17,andTableS5 ),anditssizeisconsistentwiththediameteroftheholeoftheboredstonerecoveredfromlayer1WA(21).Thewoodisidenti edasmostlikely Flueggeavirosa Roxb.exWilld.Voightsubsp. virosa (syn. Securinegavirosa )Phyllanthaceae(Euphorbiaceae),white-berry bush( SIAppendix,Results andFig.S19 ),amultistemmedshrub orsmalltreeoccurringindeciduouswoodland,atforestmargins, oronrockyoutcrops(47).Itsuseformakingarrowshaftsand otherimplementsinwidelyattestedinAfrica(48).Thisobject wasdirectlydatedintheframeworkofthisstudyto34,940 ± 370 OxA-23172(40,986 – 38,986calBP). PoisonApplicator. Athinwoodenstickinfourpieceswasfoundin layer1BSLowerB-C(Fig.2, 26 ;andTable1).Together,they measure32cm.Theoriginalobjectwaslonger,astheydonot re t.Afterremovalofthebark,thestickwasentirelycovered withperpendicularincisionsmadebyasharpcuttingedge.As withthediggingstick,thewoodisidenti edasmostlikely F.virosa ( SIAppendix,Results andFig.S19 ).Effortstocorroboratethetaxonomicidenti cationbyPy(HMDS) – gaschromatography/massspectrometrywereinconclusive( SIAppendix, Results ,Fig.S20,andTableS6 ).Microscopicanalysisrevealed thepresenceofadarkorangeresidueattheendand,toalesser extent,onthebodyofonepiece( SIAppendix,Results andFig. S21 ).Gaschromatographyoftheresidue(Fig.2, 27 ;and SI Appendix,Results andTableS7 )showsthepresenceofmonocarboxylicanddicarboxylicacids(lipidmaterial).Theoccurrence ofboth cis and trans isomersofunsaturatedcarboxylicacids suggeststhatthematerialwasheated,andthesimultaneous presenceofeven-andodd-chain-lengthhydrocarbonspointsto thepresenceofcuticularwax(49).Ricinoleicandricinelaidic acidsarepresent.Ricinoleicacidisfoundinmaturecastorbeans ( Ricinuscommunis L., Euphorbiaceae ),aspeciescommoninthis partofAfrica.Theproteinricinincastorbeansisknowntobe amongthemostdangerousnaturalpoisons(50).Theincised stickmaybeabrokenarrowshaftstillretainingpoisonatone end.However,foraerodynamicreasons,arrowshaftsaretypicallystraightandsmooth.TheBorderCavespecimenclosely resemblesimplementsusedbytheKalahariSantocarryand applypoisontoarrowpoints( SIAppendix,Results ,Fig.S22,and TableS8 ).Ontheethnographicspecimens,thenotchesserveto holdthepoisonpasteandthewaxinplace.Intheframeworkof thisstudy,thepoisonapplicatorwasdirectlydatedto20,420 ± 90OxA-23173(24,564 – 23,941calBP). LumpofBoundOrganicMaterial. A4-cm-widepieceoforganic material,coveredwithrandomlyorienteddeepgrooves,wasrecoveredfrom1BSLowerB-C(Fig.2, 24 ;andTable1).Microscopicanalysisrevealedthatthegrooveswereproducedby bindingthematerialwithvegetaltwinewhenthecompoundwas soft.Bundlesofvegetal bers,probablyfromtheinnerbarkofa woodyplant,areimbeddedinthegrooves( SIAppendix,Results andFig.S23 ).Gaschromatographyoftwosamplesfromthepiece identi esthemainconstituentasbeeswax,withtheadditionofa protein-basedmaterial(possiblyegg),andtriterpenoidsderived from Euphorbiatirucalli resin( SIAppendix,Results ,Fig.S24,and TableS9 ).Resinscanbeexploitedasadhesives,buttriterpenoids arealsousedinhighconcentrationsaspoisonsandinlower concentrationsmedicinally. Euphorbiaingens (naboomorgiant euphorbia)and E.tirucalli (rubber-hedgeeuphorbiaorManyara), widelydistributedinAfrica,haveparticularlypoisonouslatexand seeds.Althoughverypoisonousandusedasaninsecticideortokill sh, E.ingens isalsousedmedicinally,butitcanbefatal(47,51). Intheframeworkofthisstudy,thelumpofbeeswaxwasdirectly datedto35,140 ± 360OxA-W-2455-52(41,167 – 39,194calBP). Discussion Thehighlydebatedquestionoftheemergenceofculturalmodernityhasgenerallybeenapproachedbyanalyzingthearchaeologicalrecordinsearchofbehaviorsconsidered,inonewayor another,comparablewithourown.Personalornaments,pigments, engravings,complextechnologies,etc.representinmanyrespects, however,categoriesthat,extractedfromtheiroriginalcontextof use,maybetoobroadtoassessadegreeofmodernity.Although theymaywellhavebeenusedinacomparableframework,the possibilityexiststhatsuchculturalitemswereinthedeeppast playingaquitedifferentrolefromtheoneattributedtothemby archaeologists. Adifferentwayoftacklingtheissueofmodernity — whichina senseraisesthethresholdoftherequirementsformodern behaviors — istoanalyzethearchaeologicalrecordinsearchof evidencethatunambiguouslyparallels,indifferentdomains, thoserecordedamonglivingorhistoricallyknownhunter – gatherers.Althoughthispathisnotfreefrompitfalls,itallowsoneto interpretarchaeologicalevidenceinthelightofknownsocialand culturalpractices.Inthisrespect,theorganicartifactsfromthe upperlayersofBorderCaverepresentarguablytheoldestinstanceofmodernculture.Reappraisalofthelithicassemblages fromthepost-HPandELSAlayers(21),incombinationwith existingandnewradiocarbondates,supportstheviewthatthe LSAemergedinSouthAfricabyinternalevolutionat 44ka. LSAtechnologywasprecededbyaphaseofprogressiveabandonmentofthemorecomplexMSAlithicreductionsequences andtooltypesinfavorofasimpli cationintheproductionof lithicartifacts. Ourresultsdemonstratethat,withthesigni cantexceptionof atusktechnologyalreadyinplaceby60ka,thesuiteofcomplex andvariedtechnicalandsymbolicitemsthatcharacterizemore recentLSAandhistoricalSanmaterialculturewasusedby BorderCaveinhabitants44kya.Theseincludebonepoints identicaltoSanpoisonedarrowpoints,oneofwhichisincised withamarkofownership.Thankstotheexceptionalpreservationoforganicmaterial,duetotheextremedrynessofthiscave (52),anotchedsticksimilartoSanpoisonapplicatorsretains residuesofaheatedtoxiccompound.Althoughthispieceis clearlyintrusiveinthe1BSLowerB-Clayer,consideringitsage of24ka,itneverthelessrepresentstheoldestknownsecureevidenceoftheuseofpoisonforhuntingpurposes.KalahariSan poisontheirarrowswithbeetlelarvae,snakevenom,andplant extracts(25,28),whicharenotavailableinthetropicalKwaZulu-Natalenvironment.Thepoisonsidenti edatBorderCave mayrepresentaregionaladaptationtoexploitlocaltoxicsubstances.Alumpofbeeswaxmixedwithpoisonous Euphorbia resinandwrappedwithvegetaltwinewascertainlyusedfor haftingpurposes.Directdatingofthispieceto 40kamakesit theoldestknownexampleoftheuseofbeeswax.Thiscomplex huntingkitiscomplementedbylightdiggingsticksweightedwith boredstones(21). AnalysisofBorderCavepersonalornamentscorroborates previousreportsofrelativelylargeOESbeadsdatedtothesame periodfromBoomplaas,Mumba,andEnkapuneYaMuto(35 – 37),con rmingthatthistypicalSanpersonalornamentandexchangemediumwasalreadyinuseatleast45kyaatanumberof Africansites.Inaddition,itraisesthepossibilitythatsomeOES beadswereintentionallyblackenedbyheating,asattestedinthe 13218 | www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1204213109 d ’ Erricoetal.

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LSAandethnographically.Thepresenceof Nassarius shellbeads alsoestablishesalinkwiththeLSA,inwhichtheyarecommon (53).Symbolicitemsextendtonotchedbones.Twoofthefour notchedobjectsfromBorderCave,recoveredfrom1WAand 1BSLowerB-C,appeartobeofparticularsigni cance(Fig.1, 10 and 12 ).Contrarytothatfoundinlayer2WA,asimplebone splinteronwhichunevenlyspacedandpartiallysuperimposed cutsweremade,thetwopiecesfromthemorerecentlayersrevealinonecasetheintentionofproducinganobjectdecorated withcarefullyandregularlymadeidenticalnotches,andinthe otherthewillofaccumulatingmarksthroughtime,arguablyfor notationalpurposes.Inaddition,bothpiecesbearcleartracesof manipulationorlong-termcuration. Contrarytolithictechnology,whichshowsatBorderCavea gradualevolutiontowardtheELSAstartingafter56ka(21),organicartifactsunambiguouslyreminiscentofLSAandSanmaterialcultureemergerelativelyabruptly,highlightinganapparent mismatchinratesofculturalchange.Ourresultssupportthe viewthatwhatweperceivetodayasmodernbehavioristheresultofnonlineartrajectoriesthatmaybebetterunderstoodwhen documentedataregionalscale(7,12 – 14,21,54). MaterialsandMethods BorderCaveartifactswereanalyzedwithre ectedlightmicroscopes.Selected itemswereobservedwithanenvironmentalscanningelectronmicroscope equippedwithanenergy-dispersiveX-rayanalyzer.Chemicalanalysisofbeeswax,woodenartifacts,andresidueswereconductedbygaschromatography, massspectrometry,andpyrolysis.AnOESbeadwasAMS 14 CdatedbytheLeibniz LaborfürAltersbestimmungundIsotopenforschung(UniversityofKiel,Kiel, Germany).Thepoisonapplicator,diggingstick,andlumpofbeeswaxwere ASMdatedbytheRadiocarbonAcceleratorUnitattheUniversityofOxford. Moreinformationonmethodsisgivenin SIAppendix,MaterialsandMethods . ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. WethankD.MorrisandD.Wallforaccesstothe McGregorMuseumandMuseumAfricacollections,respectively;B.Wilsonfor identi cationofthesuidtusks;M.Witcombforassistancewithscanning electronmicroscopy;W.Banksforhelpfuldiscussions;andC.Sievers,R.Reddy, andL.Wadleyforprovidingbotanicalsamples.F.d.andL.B.weresupportedby grantsfromtheEuropeanResearchCouncil(FP7/2007/2013,TRACSYMBOLS 249587);SouthAfrica/FranceScienti cCooperationAgreement;NationalResearchFoundationofSouthAfrica;UniversityResearchCouncil,Universityof theWitwatersrand;ErnestOppenheimerMemorialTrust;InstitutFrançais d ’ AfriqueduSud;andtheProjectOriginesII,AquitaineRegion.P.V.wassupportedbyNationalScienceFoundationGrantBCS0613319;Palaeontological Scienti cTrust;andtheSchoolofGeography,ArchaeologyandEnvironmental Studies,UniversityoftheWitwatersrand. 1.WadleyL,HodgskissT,GrantM(2009)Implicationsforcomplexcognitionfromthe haftingoftoolswithcompoundadhesivesintheMiddleStoneAge,SouthAfrica. 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