Late Holocene fauna from Moshebi’s Shelter, a Later Stone Age site in Lesotho


  • Shaw Badenhorst Evolutionary Sciences Institute, Wits University
  • Peter Mitchell School of Archaeology, University of Oxford
  • Charles Arthur School of Archaeology, University of Oxford
  • Cristian Capelli Dept of Zoology, University of Oxford


This paper reports the analysis of the faunal remains recovered from re-excavation of Holocene Later Stone Age deposits at Moshebi’s Shelter, Lesotho. The assemblage includes a range of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and molluscs, but no domestic livestock. Some of the most common taxa, notably mole rats and vlei rats, are likely to be natural intrusions, but most of the others were probably hunted by the site’s hunter-gatherer occupants, with an emphasis on small- and medium-sized antelope and rock hyrax. Overall, the animals present reflect an open grassland environment with wooded microhabitats available in nearby valleys. Of the species identified, zebra was not observed in highland Lesotho in the nineteenth century, but is known there earlier in the Holocene. Bushpig, on the other hand, either suggests an enhanced presence of woodland or thicket vegetation relative to today, or contacts with communities living downslope of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Escarpment in KwaZulu-Natal. KEY WORDS: hunter-gatherer, Later Stone Age, zooarchaeology, Lesotho.



How to Cite

Badenhorst, S., Mitchell, P., Arthur, C., & Capelli, C. (2019). Late Holocene fauna from Moshebi’s Shelter, a Later Stone Age site in Lesotho. Southern African Humanities, 32, 83–107. Retrieved from




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