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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 7 (1) 2009

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S. Soriano, P. Villa & L. Wadley

Ochre for the toolmaker: shaping the Still Bay points at Sibudu (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 7 (1), 2009, pages 41-54, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10121

Abstract
During a study of the Still Bay industry at Sibudu (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa), we observed ochre deposits on the platforms of flakes associated with the production of bifacial points, which are highly characteristic of this industry. We discuss several hypotheses to explain this phenomenon, implicating either an intentional or unintentional anthropogenic origin, or a natural origin. These considerations are based on the characteristics of the ochre deposits (appearance, position and distribution), the technical features of the lithic artifacts on which they are observed and the sedimentary and archaeological context in which they were found. All of these elements converge to demonstrate that the ochre was indirectly deposited on the flake platforms through the use of iron oxide nodules as knapping tools for the manufacture of bifacial points. The significance of this behavior is discussed in light of increasingly frequent discoveries of ochre or other mineral materials with equivalent properties in the context of the MSA in South Africa.

Résumé
A l'occasion d'une étude de l'industrie Still Bay du site de Sibudu (KwaZulu-Natal, Afrique du Sud), nous avons observé la présence de dépôts d'ocre sur les talons d'éclats issus du façonnage de pointes bifaciales si caractéristiques du faciès Still Bay. Plusieurs hypothèses, impliquant soit une origine anthropique, volontaire ou involontaire, soit une origine naturelle, sont discutées ici sur la base des caractéristiques de ces dépôts ocreux (aspect, position, répartition), des caractères techniques des éléments lithiques sur lesquels ils ont été observés et du contexte sédimentaire et archéologique dont proviennent les vestiges. Tous les éléments convergent pour démontrer que l'ocre a été déposée indirectement sur les talons de ces éclats pendant l'emploi de nodules d'oxyde de fer comme outil de taille lors de la fabrication des pointes bifaciales. La signification de ce comportement est discutée à la lumière des découvertes, de plus en plus fréquentes, d'ocre ou de matières minérales aux propriétés équivalentes dans le contexte du MSA d'Afrique australe.




Keywords: lithic industry, lithic technology, Middle Stone Age, ochre, Still Bay


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Shadreck Chirikure, South Africa
A. Catherine D'Andrea, Canada
Manfred K.H. Eggert, Germany
Elena Garcea, Italy
Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, USA
Timothy Insoll, UK
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Eric Huysecom, Switzerland
David Killick, USA
Savino di Lernia, Italy
Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Belgium
Scott MacEachern, USA
David Mattingly, UK
Susan Keech McIntosh, USA
David W. Phillipson, UK
Gilbert Pwiti, Zimbabwe
Peter Robertshaw, USA
Robert Vernet, France
Lyn Wadley, South Africa

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