Before Farming

Bone tools from Broken Hill (Kabwe) cave, Zambia, and their evolutionary significance

Before Farming (2002), 2002, (2), 1–16.

Access Token
£25.00

Details

Shaped bone tools are now recognised as part of the technological repertoire of some Middle Stone Age hunter-gatherers in southern Africa. Currently accepted dates for the earliest bone working technology in the region range from ~70–90 ka. This study re-examines three bone objects from the site of Broken Hill (Kabwe), Zambia, that were described in the 1940s as formal bone tools. Broken Hill is well known for its fossils of Homo heidelbergensis, a species not previously associated with bone working, and less well known for its small sample of early Middle Stone Age lithic artefacts. The claim for bone tools at Broken Hill takes on added significance in light of new dates from south-central Africa which place the development of composite stone tool technology (Mode 3) in the later Middle Pleistocene (~300 ka). If these bone objects are indeed tools and associated with the hominid use of the cave, they may be the oldest evidence of bone tool working in the archaeological record. The results are reported of scanning electron microscopy of the surfaces of each putative tool and implications are drawn for the behavioural evolution of H heidelbergensis.

Andrews, P 1997. What taphonomy can and cannot tell us. Cuadernos de Geología Ibérica 22:53-72. What taphonomy can and cannot tell us Cuadernos de Geología Ibérica 22 53 72 Google Scholar

Backwell, LR & d'Errico, F 2001. Evidence of termite foraging by Swartkrans early hominids. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 98(4):1358-1363. Evidence of termite foraging by Swartkrans early hominids Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 98 1358 1363 Google Scholar

Bada, JL, Schroeder, R, Protsch, R, & Berger, R 1974. Concordance of collagen-based radiocarbon and aspartic acid racemization ages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 71:914-917. Concordance of collagen-based radiocarbon and aspartic acid racemization ages 71 914 917 Google Scholar

Barham, L 2000. The Middle Stone Age of Zambia, south central Africa. Bristol: Western Academic & Specialist Press. The Middle Stone Age of Zambia, south central Africa Google Scholar

Barham, L 2001. Central Africa and the emergence of regional identity in the Middle Pleistocene. In Barham, L and Robson-Brown, K (eds) Human roots - Africa and Asia in the Middle Pleistocene. Bristol: Western Academic & Specialist Press: 65-80. Human roots - Africa and Asia in the Middle Pleistocene 65 80 Google Scholar

Barham, L 2002. Systematic pigment use in the Middle Pleistocene of south-central Africa. Current Anthropology 43:181-190. Systematic pigment use in the Middle Pleistocene of south-central Africa Current Anthropology 43 181 190 Google Scholar

Barham, LS in press. Backed tools in the Middle Pleistocene of central Africa and their evolutionary significance. Journal of Human Evolution. Backed tools in the Middle Pleistocene of central Africa and their evolutionary significance Journal of Human Evolution. Google Scholar

Bartsiokas, A & Day, MH 1993. Lead poisoning and dental caries in the Broken Hill hominid. Journal of Human Evolution 2:243-249. Lead poisoning and dental caries in the Broken Hill hominid Journal of Human Evolution 2 243 249 Google Scholar

Behrensmeyer, AK, Gordon, KD, & Yanagi, GT 1986. Trampling as a cause of bone surface damage and pseudo-cutmarks. Nature 319:768-771. Trampling as a cause of bone surface damage and pseudo-cutmarks Nature 319 768 771 Google Scholar

Brain, CK. 1981. The hunters or the hunted? An introduction to African cave taphonomy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. The hunters or the hunted? An introduction to African cave taphonomy Google Scholar

Brooks, AS, Helgren, DM, Cramer, JS, Franklin, A, Hrnyat, M, Keating, JM, Klein, RG, Rink, WJ, Schwarcz, H, Smith, JNL, Stewart, K, Todd, N, Verniers, J, & Yellen, J 1995. Dating and context of three Middle Stone Age sites with bone points in the Upper Semliki Valley, Zaire. Science 268:548-553. Dating and context of three Middle Stone Age sites with bone points in the Upper Semliki Valley, Zaire Science 268 548 553 Google Scholar

Clark, JD, Oakley, KP, Wells, LH, & McClelland, JA 1947. New studies on Rhodesian Man. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 77:7-32. New studies on Rhodesian Man Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 77 7 32 Google Scholar

Clark, JD 1959a. Further excavations at Broken Hill, Northern Rhodesia. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 89:201-232. Further excavations at Broken Hill, Northern Rhodesia Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 89 201 232 Google Scholar

Clark, JD 1959b. The prehistory of southern Africa. Harmondsworth: Penguin. The prehistory of southern Africa Google Scholar

Clark, JD 1966. The distribution of prehistoric cultures in Angola. Lisbon: Companhia de Diamantes de Angola. The distribution of prehistoric cultures in Angola Google Scholar

Clark, JD 2001. Kalambo Falls prehistoric site, volume III. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kalambo Falls prehistoric site III Google Scholar

Clark, JD & Brown, K 2001. The Twin Rivers kopje, Zambia: stratigraphy, fauna, and artefact assemblages form the 1954 and 1956 excavations. Journal of Archaeological Science 28:305-330. The Twin Rivers kopje, Zambia: stratigraphy, fauna, and artefact assemblages form the 1954 and 1956 excavations Journal of Archaeological Science 28 305 330 Google Scholar

Davies, W 2001. A very model of a modern human industry: new perspectives on the origins and spread of the Aurignacian in Europe. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 67:195-217. A very model of a modern human industry: new perspectives on the origins and spread of the Aurignacian in Europe Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 67 195 217 Google Scholar

Deacon, JD 1984. Later Stone Age people and their descendants in southern Africa. In RG Klein (ed) Southern African Prehistory and Paleoenvironments. Rotterdam: AA Balkema: 221-328. Southern African Prehistory and Paleoenvironments 221 328 Google Scholar

d'Errico, F & Villa, P 1997. Holes and grooves: the contribution of microscopy and taphonomy to the problem of art origins. Journal of Human Evolution 33:1-31. Holes and grooves: the contribution of microscopy and taphonomy to the problem of art origins Journal of Human Evolution 33 1 31 Google Scholar

Henshilwood, CS & Sealy, J 1997. Bone artefacts from the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, southern Cape, South Africa. Current Anthropology 38:890-895. Bone artefacts from the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, southern Cape, South Africa Current Anthropology 38 890 895 Google Scholar

Henshilwood, CS, d'Errico, F, Marean, CW, Milo, RG, & Yates, R 2001. An early bone tool industry from the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, South Africa: implications for the origins of modern human behaviour, symbolism and language. Journal of Human Evolution 41:631-678. An early bone tool industry from the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, South Africa: implications for the origins of modern human behaviour, symbolism and language Journal of Human Evolution 41 631 678 Google Scholar

Hrdlička, A, 1930. The skeletal remains of early man. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Miscellaneous Collections volume 83. The skeletal remains of early man 83 Google Scholar

Inskeep, RR 1987. Nelson Bay Cave, Cape Province, South Africa: the Holocene levels. Oxford: BAR International Series 357(I). Parts i&ii. Nelson Bay Cave, Cape Province, South Africa: the Holocene levels Google Scholar

Kimbel, WH 1995. Hominid speciation and Pliocene climate change. In Vrba, ES, Denton, GH, Partridge, TC & Burckle, LH (eds) Paleoclimate and evolution with emphasis on human origins. New Haven: Yale University Press: 425-437. Paleoclimate and evolution with emphasis on human origins 425 437 Google Scholar

Klein, RG 1973. Geological antiquity of Rhodesian Man. Nature 244:311-312. Geological antiquity of Rhodesian Man Nature 244 311 312 Google Scholar

McBreaty, S 2001. The Middle Pleistocene of east Africa. In Barham, L and Robson-Brown, K (eds) Human Roots: Africa and Asia in the Middle Pleistocene. Bristol: Western Academic & Specialist Press: 65-80. Human Roots: Africa and Asia in the Middle Pleistocene 65 80 Google Scholar

McBrearty, S & Brooks, AS 2000. The revolution that wasn't: a new interpretation of the origin of modern human behaviour. Journal of Human Evolution 39(5):453-563. The revolution that wasn't: a new interpretation of the origin of modern human behaviour Journal of Human Evolution 39 453 563 Google Scholar

Mellars, P 1991. Cognitive changes and the emergence of modern humans in Europe. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 1:63-76. Cognitive changes and the emergence of modern humans in Europe Cambridge Archaeological Journal 1 63 76 Google Scholar

Mennell, FP, & Chubb, EC 1907. On an African occurrence of fossil Mammalia associated with stone implements. Geological Magazine 4:443-448. On an African occurrence of fossil Mammalia associated with stone implements Geological Magazine 4 443 448 Google Scholar

Oakley, KP, Campbell, BG & Molleson, TI 1977. Catalogue of Fossil Hominids, Part I: Africa. London: Trustees of the British Museum, Natural History. Catalogue of Fossil Hominids, Part I: Africa Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Pinto, AC, & Andrews, P (in press). Taphonomy and palaeoecology of fossil bears from Northern Spain. Oviedo: Grafinsa. Taphonomy and palaeoecology of fossil bears from Northern Spain Google Scholar

Pyecraft, WP, Smith, GE, Yersley, M, Carter, JT, Smith, RA, Hopwood, AT, Bate, DMA & Swindon, WE 1928. Rhodesian Man and Associated Remains. London: British Museum Natural History. Rhodesian Man and Associated Remains Google Scholar

Rightmire, GP 1998. Human evolution in the Middle Pleistocene: the role of Homo heidelbergensis. Evolutionary Anthropology 6:218-227. Human evolution in the Middle Pleistocene: the role of Homo heidelbergensis. Evolutionary Anthropology 6 218 227 Google Scholar

Rightmire, GP 2001. Comparison of Middle Pleistocene hominids from Africa and Asia. In Barham, L and Robson-Brown, K (eds) Human roots - Africa and Asia in the Middle Pleistocene. Bristol: Western Academic & Specialist Press: 123-134. Human roots - Africa and Asia in the Middle Pleistocene 123 134 Google Scholar

Schwarcz, HP 2001. Chronometric dating of the Middle Pleistocene. In Barham, L & Robson-Brown, K (eds) Human roots - Africa and Asia in the Middle Pleistocene. Bristol: Western Academic & Specialist Press: 41-54. Human roots - Africa and Asia in the Middle Pleistocene 41 54 Google Scholar

Semenov, S 1964. Prehistoric technology, translation by MW Thompson. London: Cory, Adams and Mackay. Prehistoric technology Google Scholar

Shipman, P & Rose, JJ 1984. Cutmark mimics on modern and fossil bovid bones. Current Anthropology 25:116-117. Cutmark mimics on modern and fossil bovid bones Current Anthropology 25 116 117 Google Scholar

Singer, R & Wymer, J 1982. The Middle Stone Age at Klasies River Mouth in South Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. The Middle Stone Age at Klasies River Mouth in South Africa Google Scholar

Stringer, C 2001. Modern human origins - distinguishing the models. African Archaeological Review 18:67-75. Modern human origins - distinguishing the models African Archaeological Review 18 67 75 Google Scholar

Sutcliffe, JA 1970. Spotted hyena: crusher, gnawer, digester and collector of bones. Nature 227:1110-1113. Spotted hyena: crusher, gnawer, digester and collector of bones Nature 227 1110 1113 Google Scholar

Tamrat, E, Thouveny, N, Taieb, M, & Opdyke, ND 1995. Revised magnetostratigraphy of the Plio-Pleistocene sedimentary sequence of the Olduvai Formation (Tanzania). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 114:273-283. Revised magnetostratigraphy of the Plio-Pleistocene sedimentary sequence of the Olduvai Formation (Tanzania) Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 114 273 283 Google Scholar

Villa, P & d'Errico, F 2001. Bone and ivory points in the Lower and Middle Paleolithic of Europe. Journal of Human Evolution 41:69-112. Bone and ivory points in the Lower and Middle Paleolithic of Europe Journal of Human Evolution 41 69 112 Google Scholar

White, F 1908. Notes on a cave containing fossilized bones of animals, worked pieces of bone, stone implements, and quartzite pebbles, found in a kopje or small hill composed of zinc and lead ores, at Broken Hill, North-Western Rhodesia. Proceedings of the Rhodesian Scientific Association 8:13-23. Notes on a cave containing fossilized bones of animals, worked pieces of bone, stone implements, and quartzite pebbles, found in a kopje or small hill composed of zinc and lead ores, at Broken Hill, North-Western Rhodesia Proceedings of the Rhodesian Scientific Association 8 13 23 Google Scholar

White, T 1992. Prehistoric cannibalism at Mancos 5MTUMR-2346. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Prehistoric cannibalism at Mancos Google Scholar

Yellen, JE, Brooks, AS, Cornelissen, E, Mehlman, MH, & Stewart, K 1995. A Middle Stone Age worked bone industry from Katanda, Upper Semliki Valley, Zaire. Science 268:553-556. A Middle Stone Age worked bone industry from Katanda, Upper Semliki Valley, Zaire Science 268 553 556 Google Scholar

Yellen, JE 1998. Barbed bone points: tradition and continuity in Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa. African Archaeological Review 15(3):173-198. Barbed bone points: tradition and continuity in Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa African Archaeological Review 15 173 198 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Author details

Barham, L

Llona, A

Stringer, C

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
20022_03_s1