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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. 12 (2) 2014

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P. Mitchell & C. Arthur

Ha Makotoko: Later Stone Age Occupation across the Pleistocene/Holocene Transition in Western Lesotho

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 12 (2), 2014, pages 205-232, DOI 10.3213/2191-5784-10255

Abstract

Stratigraphically extensive sites with good organic preservation that date to the Pleistocene/Holocene transition are rare in southern Africa outside the Fynbos Biome of the Cape. However, the Caledon Valley, which forms Lesotho's western border with South Africa, boasts an unusual concentration of such sites, especially in its central portion. Archaeological fieldwork ahead of the impoundment of the Metolong Dam provided a renewed — and final — opportunity to investigate two of these sites, Ha Makotoko and Ntloana Tšoana, as part of a much larger study of the area's cultural heritage by the Metolong Cultural Heritage Management (MCRM) Project. This paper reports on the assemblages from the earlier part of the Later Stone Age sequence from Ha Makotoko. As well as confirming the presence of two distinct phases of occupation by makers of the Oakhurst Complex during the early Holocene, new excavations identified an earlier , Robberg Industry occupation of terminal Pleistocene age. These assemblages are described and those of early Holocene date compared to observations from the earlier 1989 excavation at Ha Makotoko. Strongly defined patterning in the overall organisation of the use of space at the site is recognised, along with the potential to begin exploring such sites to answer questions about social practices relevant at a human timescale. Comparison of Ha Makotoko with other sites in the Caledon Valley suggests that such opportunities may also exist elsewhere in the region and reinforces its significance for studies of the Pleistocene/Holocene transition at a sub-continental scale.


Résumé

Les sites à stratigraphie dilatée qui présentent une bonne conservation des matières organiques et qui datent de la transition Pléistocène/Holocène sont rares en Afrique australe en dehors du biome du Fynbos du Cap. Toutefois, la vallée du Caledon, qui forme la frontière occidentale du Lesotho avec l'Afrique du Sud, bénéficie d'une concentration inhabituelle de tels sites, en particulier dans sa partie centrale. Les travaux archéologiques précédant la mise en eau du barrage de Metolong ont fourni une nouvelle — et ultime — possibilité d'étudier deux de ces sites, Ha Makotoko et Ntloana Tšoana, dans le cadre d'une étude beaucoup plus large du patrimoine culturel de la région par le Projet de la Gestion du Patrimoine Culturel du Metolong (MCRM). Cet article présente les résultats de notre analyse sur les assemblages de la première partie de la séquence du Later Stone Age à Ha Makotoko. Celle-ci a confirmé la présence de deux phases distinctes d'occupation par ceux qui laissèrent une culture matérielle du complexe Oakhurst au début de l'Holocène, et les nouvelles fouilles ont identifié une occupation plus ancienne, attribuable à l'Industrie de Robberg et datant du Pléistocène terminal. Ces assemblages sont décrits et ceux qui datent du début de l'Holocène sont mis en rapport avec les observations faites lors de la première fouille effectuée à Ha Makotoko, en 1989. On observe une structuration forte de l'organisation globale de l'utilisation de l'espace sur le site, ce qui permet un début d'exploration de questions concernant des pratiques sociales pertinentes à l'échelle humaine. La comparaison de Ha Makotoko avec d'autres sites de la vallée du Caledon suggère que ces potentialités peuvent également exister ailleurs dans la région, et renforce son importance pour l'étude de la transition Pléistocène/Holocène à l'échelle sous-continentale.




Keywords: Caledon Valley, hunter-gatherers, Later Stone Age, Lesotho, LSA, Pleistocene/Holocene transition


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