The pinnacle point shell midden complex: A mid-To late holocene record of later stone age coastal foraging along the southern cape coast of South Africa

James R. Mcgrath, Naomi Cleghorn, Betina Gennari, Struan Henderson, Katharine Kyriacou, Cindy Nelson-Viljoen, Peter Nilssen, Leesha Richardson, Christopher Shelton, Jayne Wilkins, Curtis Marean

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3 Scopus citations


Surveys identified a series ofHolocene Later Stone Age shell middens | along the westernmost extent of the Pinnacle Point estate near Mossel Bay, Western Cape, South Africa. Excavations of the Pinnacle Point i Shell Midden Complex (PPSMC) in 2006 and 2007 revealed a ! well-preserved record of human activity ranging from 3000 ± 75 BP to 890 ± 30 BP across seven spatially and temporally distinct shell middens. These ages indicate that the PPSMC spans the recognised introduction of pastoral economies on the south coast. Divided into i Areas 1-5 of the PPSMC, each stratified midden presents an insight | into human subsistence patterns through time. The earlier occupied Areas 1,2 and 4 indicate a coastal forager subsistence pattern, focus- ing on the local terrestrial and marine resources, namely fish and j molluscs foraged from the adjacent shoreline. Area 3, the youngest and only area post-dating the introduction of pastoralism, represents a herder-forager subsistence pattern and displays a stone-lined, heat-retaining earth oven, extensive 'spatial patterning, and the presence of pottery and domestic animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalSouth African Archaeological Bulletin
Issue number202
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015



  • Coastal adaptation
  • Later stone age
  • Pastoralism
  • Shell middens
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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