The late Pleistocene archaeology of Klein Kliphuis rock shelter, Western Cape, South Africa: 2006 excavations

Alex Mackay*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper reports on the late Pleistocene component of the 2006 excavations at Klein Kliphuis rock shelter in the Western Cape. Some 40 000 flaked stone artefacts and 2.5 kg of ochre were recovered from the excavation, along with minimal quantities of charcoal and other organic finds. Chronometric data suggest that the cultural sequence at the site began to accumulate around or slightly before 65 ka. The basal unit is assigned to the Howieson's Poort which has two discernible components or modes', separated by a decrease in artefact numbers and interesting changes in material prevalence centred on 62 ka. The sequence also includes two different post-Howieson's Poort components, the older of which appears to begin with the cessation of MIS 4 around 58 ka and the younger of which appears to end some time between 33 ka and 22 ka. Differences in rates of artefact discard suggest relatively intensive use of the shelter in late MIS 4 and more ephemeral use thereafter. The youngest component of the late Pleistocene sequence can be described as late Pleistocene microlithic LSA and dates to around 22 ka. While there appears to be no transitional Middle to Later Stone Age component to the sequence, there are few clear differences between the oldest LSA at the site and the youngest MSA, possibly implying that the transition occurred over an extended period from late MIS 3 to early MIS 2.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)132-147
    Number of pages16
    JournalSouth African Archaeological Bulletin
    Issue number192
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


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