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The Middle to Later Stone Age transition at Panga ya Saidi, in the tropical coastal forest of eastern Africa

Shipton, C; Blinkhorn, J; Archer, W; Kourampas, N; Roberts, P; Prendergast, ME; Curtis, R; ... Petraglia, MD; + view all (2021) The Middle to Later Stone Age transition at Panga ya Saidi, in the tropical coastal forest of eastern Africa. Journal of Human Evolution , 153 , Article 102954. 10.1016/j.jhevol.2021.102954. Green open access

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Abstract

The Middle to Later Stone Age transition is a critical period of human behavioral change that has been variously argued to pertain to the emergence of modern cognition, substantial population growth, and major dispersals of Homo sapiens within and beyond Africa. However, there is little consensus about when the transition occurred, the geographic patterning of its emergence, or even how it is manifested in the stone tool technology that is used to define it. Here, we examine a long sequence of lithic technological change at the cave site of Panga ya Saidi, Kenya, that spans the Middle and Later Stone Age and includes human occupations in each of the last five Marine Isotope Stages. In addition to the stone artifact technology, Panga ya Saidi preserves osseous and shell artifacts, enabling broader considerations of the covariation between different spheres of material culture. Several environmental proxies contextualize the artifactual record of human behavior at Panga ya Saidi. We compare technological change between the Middle and Later Stone Age with on-site paleoenvironmental manifestations of wider climatic fluctuations in the Late Pleistocene. The principal distinguishing feature of Middle from Later Stone Age technology at Panga ya Saidi is the preference for fine-grained stone, coupled with the creation of small flakes (miniaturization). Our review of the Middle to Later Stone Age transition elsewhere in eastern Africa and across the continent suggests that this broader distinction between the two periods is in fact widespread. We suggest that the Later Stone Age represents new short use-life and multicomponent ways of using stone tools, in which edge sharpness was prioritized over durability.

Type: Article
Title: The Middle to Later Stone Age transition at Panga ya Saidi, in the tropical coastal forest of eastern Africa
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2021.102954
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2021.102954
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Behavioral evolution, Lithic technology, Late Pleistocene, Early Homo sapiens
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10125809
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