Stone point variability reveals spatial, chronological and environmental structuring of eastern African Middle Stone Age populations



Timbrell, Lucy, Habte, Behailu, Tefera, Yosef, Maroma, Christine, Ndiema, Emmanuel, Plomp, Kimberly, Blinkhorn, James and Grove, Matt
(2024) Stone point variability reveals spatial, chronological and environmental structuring of eastern African Middle Stone Age populations. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 59 (1). pp. 1-29.

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Abstract

Stone points are one of the key features used to define the African Middle Stone Age (MSA). Regional patterns in their shape and size through time have been thought to reflect inter-group interactions and networks of populations and are used to define cultural phases within the MSA. However, eastern Africa does not have distinctive and widely applied chrono-stratigraphic point variants that divide its MSA record, which is often described as being highly variable. This paper presents a metric and geometric morphometric analysis of eastern African MSA points and evaluates potential drivers of variation in them in relation to null models of isolation by distance, time and environment. Approximately half of the shape variance in our sample can be explained by spatial, temporal and environmental differences, as well as by size, indicating a degree of demographic continuity through sustained cultural transmission. A portion of the remaining variance likely represents stylistic differences between assemblages, which are often the subject of interest in archaeological studies. The highly variable nature of the eastern African MSA may reflect the region’s refugial positioning within the continent, with point technology a flexible adaptive system that was dynamically employed across Africa during the MSA depending on varying social and ecological contexts, resulting in the appearance of both ‘generic’ and ‘specific’ tool forms at particular times and places.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 4301 Archaeology, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Histories, Languages and Cultures
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2023 08:57
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2024 11:53
DOI: 10.1080/0067270x.2023.2268986
Related URLs:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3176761