Middle Stone Age stratigraphy and excavations at Die Kelders Cave 1 (Western Cape Province, South Africa): The 1992, 1993, and 1995 field seasons

Curtis W. Marean, Paul Goldberg, Graham Avery, Frederick E. Grine, Richard G. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

Die Kelders Cave 1, first excavated under the direction of Franz Schweitzer in 1969-1973, was re-excavated between 1992 and 1995 by a combined team from the South African Museum, SUNY at Stony Brook, and Stanford University. These renewed excavations enlarged the artefactual and faunal samples from the inadequately sampled and less intensively excavated lower Middle Stone Age (MSA) layers, increased our understanding of the complex site formation processes within the cave, enlarged the hominid sample from the MSA deposits, and generated ESR, TL, and OSL dates for the MSA layers. Importantly, these new excavations dramatically improved our comprehension of the vertical and lateral characteristics of the MSA stratigraphy. Surface plotting of the MSA layers has led to the identification of at least two major zones of subsidence that significantly warped the layers, draping some along the eroding surface contours of major blocks of fallen limestone roof rock. A third zone of subsidence is probably present in the older excavations. Dramatic roof falls of very large limestone blocks occurred at least twice-once in the middle of Layer 4/5 where the roof blocks were only slightly weathered after collapse, and at the top of Layer 6 where the blocks weathered heavily after collapse, producing a zone of decomposed rock around the blocks. Many of the sandy strata are cut by small and localized faults and slippages. All of the strata documented by Schweitzer's excavations are present throughout the exposed area to the west of his excavated area, where many of them thicken and become more complex. Layer 6, the thickest MSA layer, becomes less diagenetically altered and compressed to the west.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-42
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of human evolution
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Geoarchaeology
  • Middle Stone Age
  • South Africa
  • Stratigraphy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology

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