South African Archaeological Evidence

Session Date: 
May 10, 2013

As archaeologists, we cannot access culture or cognition directly; we must interpret levels of cultural or cognitive complexity from circumstantial evidence or from technological evidence. The interpretive process requires carefully constructed bridging theory between archaeologically recovered data and interpretations about behavior and human capacity. Some technologies involve permanent transformations of their ingredients that cannot be achieved without modern mental capacities. In South Africa, the manufacture of compound adhesives and compound paints by 100,000 years ago is clear evidence for modern thought processes that involve, for example, multi-tasking. Some early hunting technologies support this conclusion. Cultural traditions, reminiscent of hunter-gatherer ones practiced in historic times, are also evident in South Africa’s Middle Stone Age, by not less than 100,000 years ago.

File 2013_05_10_06_Wadley.mp486.94 MB