Large mammal and tortoise bones from Elands Bay Cave (South Africa): implications for Later Stone Age environment and ecology<br />

Authors

  • R. G. Klein Stanford University
  • K. Cruz-Uribe Indiana University East

Abstract

Elands Bay Cave has provided abundant large mammal and angulate tortoise bones from three Later Stone Age occupational pulses, bracketed by radiocarbon between 13 600 and 7800 b.p., 4300 and 3100 b.p., and 1800 and 300 b.p. (the radiocarbon ages here and below are uncalibrated). The mammal bones come from thirty-four species as large or larger than the Cape dune molerat. Fur seals, steenbok/grysbok, and molerat dominate heavily. Other species occur mainly as traces, especially in deposits postdating 9600 b.p. Fur seal bones appear first in layers dated to about 11 000 b.p., where together with intertidal shells, they record the post-glacial rise in sea level that brought the coastline to approximately its current position about 1400 years later. The terrestrial mammals record a change from moister, grassier surroundings before about 9600 b.p. to drier, scrubbier ones afterwards. Deposits dated between 12 000 and 10 000 b.p. document the youngest known occurrence of the large, extinct Cape zebra. Median tortoise size suggests that local human collectors were most numerous about 10 000 b.p., coincident with the time when the density of occupational debris implies especially intensive human use of the cave. Average fur seal age suggests people were present mainly in the August–October interval when dead or exhausted 9–11 month old seals would have been especially abundant on the nearby shore.

Published

2016-12-23

How to Cite

Klein, R. G., & Cruz-Uribe, K. (2016). Large mammal and tortoise bones from Elands Bay Cave (South Africa): implications for Later Stone Age environment and ecology<br />. Southern African Humanities, 29, 259-82. Retrieved from http://sahumanities.org/ojs/index.php/SAH/article/view/382