70 000-year old geometric backed tools from the Howiesons Poort at Klasies River, South Africa: were they used for hunting?
The Howiesons Poort Industry, with its geometric backed artefacts, has become a well-known typological entity and stratigraphic marker in the Middle Stone Age of South Africa. The Klasies River main site, on the southern Cape coast of South Africa, has yielded a large sample of Howiesons Poort artefacts. Geometric microliths from the Eurasian Upper Palaeolithic and sub-Saharan Later Stone Age are usually associated with armatures for composite hunting weapons - often bow-and-arrow hunting. The Howiesons Poort is much older than these industries, dated between 70 000 and 60 000 years ago in South Africa. Because these artefacts are morphologically similar to microliths from younger industries, similar functions are inferred. However, research efforts to obtain direct evidence on whether the Howiesons Poort backed artefacts could have been used as tips for hunting weapons have been limited. This contribution aims to stimulate such research by discussing the results of a macrofracture analysis conducted on the microliths from Klasies River Cave 2. We suggest that some of these pieces were indeed hafted and used to tip hunting weapons, and that there is evidence for change and variability in Middle Stone Age hunting technologies.