Pleistocene Homo and the updated Stone Age sequence of South Africa

  • Gerrit Dusseldorp Centre for Anthropological Research, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Marlize Lombard Department of Anthropology and Development Studies, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Sarah Wurz Institute for Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Keywords: Stone Age sequence, Homo, Pleistocene, South Africa, archaeology

Abstract

We provide a brief overview of how the rich South African Pleistocene Homo fossil record correlates with the recently revised Stone Age sequence. The overview and correlation of the data is intended to highlight gaps in the record and/or our understanding thereof, and to stimulate interdisciplinary research and debate on the Homo fossil and archaeological records spanning the Pleistocene. As an updated resource we present a complete inventory of known Pleistocene fossil material assigned to the genus Homo, and, where possible, its association with archaeological material. We demonstrate that (1) anatomical changes are not necessarily paralleled by changes in the archaeological sequence currently based on a range of technocomplexes, (2) the early Homo record of South Africa probably differs from that of East Africa, (3) mid-Pleistocene Homo might be associated with the Earlier to Middle Stone Age transitional phase and (4) the fossil record associated with the Middle Stone Age has wide anatomical variation. Also, hiatuses in the fossil record, such as that associated with the appearance of early Khoe-San-like populations, do not show concurrent hiatuses in the archaeological record. Thus, for a broader understanding of the demographic history of South Africa during the Pleistocene, both sources of information should be considered in tandem.

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Published
2013-05-23