Middle Pleistocene human adaptive strategies along the southwest coast of South Africa
Tue, 11/09/2018 - 18:30
SA Astronomical Observatory auditorium
It has been hypothesized that the morphological and behavioural traits that characterize Homo sapiens developed as adaptive responses to environmental challenges in Africa over the last million years or so. While intriguing, this hypothesis is primarily derived from late Pleistocene (126 kya – 10 kya) contexts, due to the relative rarity of high resolution mid-Pleistocene (781 kya – 126 kya) sites.
Duynefontein, situated near to Cape Town along the southwest coast, represents a rare mid-Pleistocene site that preserves an exceptionally high-resolution archaeological and environmental record. In conjunction with other African sites of similar age, it offers an opportunity to test whether mid-Pleistocene humans were equally capable of environmentally specific adaptation as their late-Pleistocene counterparts.
I present new research undertaken at Duynefontein since 2015 which expands our understanding of the adaptive capacity of mid-Pleistocene African humans in terms of landscape use, raw material sourcing and subsistence strategies.