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1.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 16270, 2022 09 29.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-36175454

RESUMO

Fully shaped, morphologically standardized bone tools are generally considered reliable indicators of the emergence of modern behavior. We report the discovery of 23 double-beveled bone tools from ~ 80,000-60,000-year-old archaeological layers at Sibudu Cave in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. We analyzed the texture of use-wear on the archaeological bone tools, and on bone tool replicas experimentally used in debarking trees, processing rabbit pelts with and without an ochre compound, digging in sediment in and outside a cave, and on ethnographic artefacts. Debarking trees and digging in humus-rich soil produce use-wear patterns closely matching those observed on most Sibudu tools. This tool type is associated with three different Middle Stone Age cultural traditions at Sibudu that span 20,000 years, yet they are absent at contemporaneous sites. Our results support a scenario in which some southern African early modern human groups developed and locally maintained specific, highly standardized cultural traits while sharing others at a sub-continental scale. We demonstrate that technological and texture analyses are effective means by which to infer past behaviors and assess the significance of prehistoric cultural innovations.


Assuntos
Arqueologia , Tecnologia , Animais , Antropologia Cultural , Humanos , Recém-Nascido , Coelhos , Solo , África do Sul , Árvores
2.
Science ; 369(6505): 863-866, 2020 08 14.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32792402

RESUMO

Early plant use is seldom described in the archaeological record because of poor preservation. We report the discovery of grass bedding used to create comfortable areas for sleeping and working by people who lived in Border Cave at least 200,000 years ago. Sheaves of grass belonging to the broad-leafed Panicoideae subfamily were placed near the back of the cave on ash layers that were often remnants of bedding burned for site maintenance. This strategy is one forerunner of more-complex behavior that is archaeologically discernible from ~100,000 years ago.


Assuntos
Cavernas , Incêndios/história , Horticultura/história , Poaceae , Antropologia , Arqueologia , História Antiga , Humanos , África do Sul
3.
Science ; 367(6473): 87-91, 2020 01 03.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31896717

RESUMO

Plant carbohydrates were undoubtedly consumed in antiquity, yet starchy geophytes were seldom preserved archaeologically. We report evidence for geophyte exploitation by early humans from at least 170,000 years ago. Charred rhizomes from Border Cave, South Africa, were identified to the genus Hypoxis L. by comparing the morphology and anatomy of ancient and modern rhizomes. Hypoxis angustifolia Lam., the likely taxon, proliferates in relatively well-watered areas of sub-Saharan Africa and in Yemen, Arabia. In those areas and possibly farther north during moist periods, Hypoxis rhizomes would have provided reliable and familiar carbohydrate sources for mobile groups.


Assuntos
Culinária/história , Dieta Paleolítica/história , Dieta Vegetariana/história , Hypoxis , Rizoma , Amido/história , Cavernas , História Antiga , Humanos
4.
J Hum Evol ; 93: 91-108, 2016 Apr.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27086058

RESUMO

The four to six month old infant from Border Cave, found with a perforated Conus shell in a pit excavated in Howiesons Poort (HP) layers dated to 74 ± 4 BP, is considered the oldest instance of modern human burial from Africa, and the earliest example of a deceased human interred with a personal ornament. In this article we present new data retrieved from unpublished archives on the burial excavation, and conduct an in-depth analysis of the Conus found with the infant, and a second similar Conus that probably originates from the same layer. Based on morphological, morphometric and ecological evidence we assign these two shells to Conus ebraeus Linnaeus 1758, a tropical species still living on the nearest coastline to Border Cave, in northern KwaZulu-Natal. This attribution changes the paleoclimatic setting inferred from the previous ascription of these shells to Conus bairstowi, a species endemic to the Eastern Cape and adapted to colder sea surface temperatures. Reconstructions of 74 ka sea surface temperatures along the southern African east coast are consistent with our reassignment. Analysis of shell thanatocoenoses and biocoenosis from the KwaZulu-Natal coast, including microscopic study of their surfaces, reveals that complete, well preserved living or dead Conus, such as those found at Border Cave, are rare on beaches, can be collected at low tide at a depth of c. 0.5-2 m among the rocks, and that the archeological shells were dead when collected. We demonstrate that the perforations at the apex were produced by humans, and that traces of wear due to prolonged utilization as an ornament are present. SEM-EDX analysis of patches of red residue on the Conus found in the pit with the infant indicates that it is composed of iron, phosphorus, silicon, aluminium, and magnesium. Results indicate that, at least in some areas of southern Africa, the use of marine gastropods as ornaments, already attested in Still Bay, extended to the first phases of the HP.


Assuntos
Sepultamento , Exoesqueleto/anatomia & histologia , Animais , Arqueologia , Comportamento , Gastrópodes , Humanos , Lactente , África do Sul
5.
PLoS One ; 10(10): e0140269, 2015.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-26509730

RESUMO

Ju/'hoan hunters from Nyae Nyae, near Tsumkwe in Namibia, demonstrate the manufacture of three fixative pastes made from plant extracts, and poison made from grubs and plant extracts. Ammocharis coranica and Terminalia sericea produce simple glue. Ozoroa schinzii latex mixed with carbonized Aristeda adscensionis grass is a compound adhesive. Composite poison is made from Chrysomelid grub viscera mixed with salivary extracts of Acacia mellifera inner bark and the tuber sap of Asparagus exuvialis. In order to document potential variability in the chaîne opératoire, and to eliminate inherent biases associated with unique observations, we studied manufacturing processes in three separate Nyae Nyae villages. Although there are methodological similarities in the Nyae Nyae area, we observed a few differences in contemporary traditions of poison manufacture. For example, some hunters make powder from Asparagus exuvialis tuber sap by boiling, reducing, hardening and grinding it, while others simply use heated sap. The Ju/'hoan hunting kit provides insights for archaeologists, but we must exercise caution when looking for continuity between prehistoric and historical technical systems. Some traditions have been lost to modern hunters, while others are new. We should also expect variability in the Stone Age because of geographically restricted resources. Simple glue, compound adhesive, and poison recipes identified in the Stone Age have no modern equivalents. By about 60,000 years ago at Diepkloof, simple glue was used for hafting tools, but at similarly-aged Sibudu there are recipes that combine red ochre powder with plant and/or animal ingredients. At Border Cave, novel poisons and compound adhesives were used in the Early Later Stone Age. It is possible that the complexity that we record in the manufacture of fixative pastes and poison used by Ju/'hoan hunters represents a hafting system both similar to and different from that observed at the Stone Age sites of Diepkloof, Sibudu, and Border Cave.


Assuntos
Armas , Arqueologia , Namíbia
6.
Elife ; 42015 Sep 10.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-26354289

RESUMO

We describe the physical context of the Dinaledi Chamber within the Rising Star cave, South Africa, which contains the fossils of Homo naledi. Approximately 1550 specimens of hominin remains have been recovered from at least 15 individuals, representing a small portion of the total fossil content. Macro-vertebrate fossils are exclusively H. naledi, and occur within clay-rich sediments derived from in situ weathering, and exogenous clay and silt, which entered the chamber through fractures that prevented passage of coarser-grained material. The chamber was always in the dark zone, and not accessible to non-hominins. Bone taphonomy indicates that hominin individuals reached the chamber complete, with disarticulation occurring during/after deposition. Hominins accumulated over time as older laminated mudstone units and sediment along the cave floor were eroded. Preliminary evidence is consistent with deliberate body disposal in a single location, by a hominin species other than Homo sapiens, at an as-yet unknown date.


Assuntos
Fenômenos Químicos , Fósseis , Sedimentos Geológicos , Hominidae/classificação , Animais , Humanos , África do Sul
7.
PLoS One ; 10(6): e0126904, 2015.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-26061082

RESUMO

Here we present the results of a taphonomic study of the faunal assemblage associated with the hominin fossils (Australopithecus sediba) from the Malapa site. Results include estimation of body part representation, mortality profiles, type of fragmentation, identification of breakage patterns, and microscopic analysis of bone surfaces. The diversity of the faunal spectrum, presence of animals with climbing proclivities, abundance of complete and/or articulated specimens, occurrence of antimeric sets of elements, and lack of carnivore-modified bones, indicate that animals accumulated via a natural death trap leading to an area of the cave system with no access to mammalian scavengers. The co-occurrence of well preserved fossils, carnivore coprolites, deciduous teeth of brown hyaena, and some highly fragmented and poorly preserved remains supports the hypothesis of a mixing of sediments coming from distinct chambers, which collected at the bottom of the cave system through the action of periodic water flow. This combination of taphonomic features explains the remarkable state of preservation of the hominin fossils as well as some of the associated faunal material.


Assuntos
Fósseis , Hominidae/anatomia & histologia , Animais , África do Sul
8.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 109(33): 13214-9, 2012 Aug 14.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-22847420

RESUMO

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.


Assuntos
Cavernas , Cultura , Animais , Arqueologia , Osso e Ossos/anatomia & histologia , Datação Radiométrica , África do Sul
9.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 109(33): 13208-13, 2012 Aug 14.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-22847432

RESUMO

The transition from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) to the Later Stone Age (LSA) in South Africa was not associated with the appearance of anatomically modern humans and the extinction of Neandertals, as in the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in Western Europe. It has therefore attracted less attention, yet it provides insights into patterns of technological evolution not associated with a new hominin. Data from Border Cave (KwaZulu-Natal) show a strong pattern of technological change at approximately 44-42 ka cal BP, marked by adoption of techniques and materials that were present but scarcely used in the previous MSA, and some novelties. The agent of change was neither a revolution nor the advent of a new species of human. Although most evident in personal ornaments and symbolic markings, the change from one way of living to another was not restricted to aesthetics. Our analysis shows that: (i) at Border Cave two assemblages, dated to 45-49 and >49 ka, show a gradual abandonment of the technology and tool types of the post-Howiesons Poort period and can be considered transitional industries; (ii) the 44-42 ka cal BP assemblages are based on an expedient technology dominated by bipolar knapping, with microliths hafted with pitch from Podocarpus bark, worked suid tusks, ostrich eggshell beads, bone arrowheads, engraved bones, bored stones, and digging sticks; (iii) these assemblages mark the beginning of the LSA in South Africa; (iv) the LSA emerged by internal evolution; and (v) the process of change began sometime after 56 ka.


Assuntos
Evolução Biológica , Cavernas , Adesividade , Animais , Sedimentos Geológicos , Humanos , África do Sul , Fatores de Tempo
10.
J Hum Evol ; 56(5): 497-513, 2009 May.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-19443017

RESUMO

Australopithecus robustus is one of the best represented hominin taxa in Africa, with hundreds of specimens recovered from six fossil localities in the Bloubank Valley area of Gauteng Province, South Africa. However, precise geochronological ages are presently lacking for these fossil cave infills. In this paper, we provide a detailed geological background to a series of hominin fossils retrieved from the newly investigated deposit of Cooper's D (located partway between Sterkfontein and Kromdraai in the Bloubank Valley), including uranium-lead (U-Pb) ages for speleothem material associated with A. robustus. U-Pb dating of a basal speleothem underlying the entire deposit results in a maximum age of 1.526 (+/-0.088) Ma for Cooper's D. A second U-Pb date of ca. 1.4 Ma is produced from a flowstone layer above this basal speleothem; since this upper flowstone is not a capping flowstone, and fossiliferous sediments are preserved above this layer, some of the hominins might be slightly younger than the calculated age. As a result, we can broadly constrain the age of the hominins from Cooper's D to between 1.5 and approximately 1.4 Ma. Extinct fauna recorded in this comparatively young deposit raise the possibility that the Bloubank Valley region of South Africa represented a more stable environmental refugium for taxa relative to tectonically more active East Africa. The sediments of the deposit likely infilled rapidly during periods when arid conditions prevailed in the paleoenvironment, although it is unclear whether sediment deposition and bone deposition were necessarily contemporaneous occurrences. We reconstruct the paleoenvironment of Cooper's D as predominantly grassland, with nearby woodlands and a permanent water source. The hominin teeth recovered from Cooper's D are all from juveniles and can be confidently assigned to A. robustus. In addition, two juvenile mandibular fragments and an adult thoracic vertebra are tentatively attributed to A. robustus.


Assuntos
Fósseis , Hominidae/genética , Datação Radiométrica , Animais , Geologia , África do Sul
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