Diet breadth in the Middle Stone Age: Evolutionarily important?

The Middle Stone Age (MSA, ca. 300,000 to 30,000 years ago), is a crucial period in terms of the emergence of our species. During this period anatomically Modern Humans evolved and spread out of Africa. A recent study published in Current Anthropology (free access) provides a new perspective on this phenomenon through an investigation of subsistence practices…

Tortoise exploitation at the MSA site of Blombos (South Africa)

While classic zooarchaeological studies mainly focus on large mammal remains, a recent paper by Thompson and Henshilwood focus on the exploitation of tortoises. Their aim is to demonstrate through a detailed taphonomic analysis, rather than through mere association, that tortoises are exploited in the Still Bay layers of Blombos Cave. 9,686 specimens from two layers…

Technological trends in the South African MSA?

Sarah Wurz gives an excellent overview of the technological diversity in the South African MSA in the latest issue of Current Anthropology. She provides a detailed account of the archaeological record, starting with the badly understood transition between the ESA and MSA (e.g. the Fauresmith industry) estimated to have occurred between 500 and 280ka BP.…