Taphonomic analysis of the Middle Stone Age faunal assemblage from Pinnacle Point Cave 13B, Western Cape, South Africa

Thompson, Jessica C. (2010) Taphonomic analysis of the Middle Stone Age faunal assemblage from Pinnacle Point Cave 13B, Western Cape, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution, 59 3-4: 321-339. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.07.004

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Author Thompson, Jessica C.
Title Taphonomic analysis of the Middle Stone Age faunal assemblage from Pinnacle Point Cave 13B, Western Cape, South Africa
Journal name Journal of Human Evolution   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0047-2484
Publication date 2010-09
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.07.004
Volume 59
Issue 3-4
Start page 321
End page 339
Total pages 19
Place of publication London, England, U.K.
Publisher Academic Press
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
A detailed taphonomic analysis is provided for the mammalian and tortoise faunal assemblages from Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (PP13B). It is the first of several reports on the fauna from this site, and must necessarily precede analyses focused on higher level interpretations of Middle Stone Age (MSA) butchery, transport, and hunting behavior. The taphonomic work shows that the faunal assemblage is well preserved and there are discernable differences in the taphonomic pathways to which the fauna was subjected at PP13B between the Middle and Late Pleistocene, between the front and back of the cave, and between body size classes. The largest mammals (size classes 2–5, body weight >24 kg) were mainly accumulated by MSA hominins. Size class 1 ungulates also exhibit a degree of hominin modification consistent with some hominin accumulation of fresh carcasses, but this is more variable through time and includes an observable degree of independent carnivore contribution. Basic taxonomic comparisons reveal a low representation of small mammals, tortoises, and marine mammals at PP13B relative to larger (>4.5 kg) terrestrial mammals. This is a different pattern from other MSA sites along the southwestern coast of South Africa, where small mammals and tortoises are abundant. A microscopic study of the bone surfaces confirms that MSA hominins exploited these small faunal components opportunistically, while focusing most heavily on large terrestrial ungulates. All faunal components show evidence of carnivore scavenging of hominin food debris and a high degree of density mediated destruction. Raptors are at no point implicated as major accumulators of any fauna. The study demonstrates that the full spectrum of MSA faunal exploitation can only be understood when the large mammal, small mammal, and tortoise components of fossil assemblages have all been subjected to comprehensive taphonomic analyses.
Keyword Zooarchaeology
Early modern humans
Carnivore tooth marks
Archaeological bone assemblages
Broad spectrum revolution
Analysis GIS approach
Modern human behavior
FLK 22 Zinjanthropus
Klasies River Mouth
Olduvai Gorge
Die Kelders
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online 7 October 2010.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
ERA 2012 Admin Only
School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 31 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 32 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 28 Nov 2010, 00:03:06 EST