Holocene LSA archaeology from Equus Cave, Buxton-Norlim Limeworks, South Africa : an analysis of the bone tool assemblage

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Abstract: Equus Cave, Buxton-Norlim Limeworks, near Taung, North West Province, South Africa, was first excavated between 1978 and 1982. While the site dates to the terminal Pleistocene and Holocene the precise age of the different layers is debated, as is the technological assignment of the deepest deposits, which are said to contain both Later or Middle Stone Age elements. While the faunal assemblage and some of the human remains have been published, the archaeology has never been fully analysed or reported. New excavations in 2012 revealed numerous artefacts including ochre, something not previously noted for this site. Comparison of total lithic artefact counts versus faunal NISPs and MNIs shows that the height of human occupation occurred during the Holocene, with preliminary analysis of the >6000 lithic assemblage indicating a dominance of notched artefacts, which, coupled with the presence of 16 bone points, is characteristic of other HoloceneWilton (Later Stone Age) sites in the region. The focus of this paper is the 16 bone points, which include projectile points and link-shafts, and how these items were manufactured and used. The results provide one of the first detailed descriptions of Later Stone Age bone tools, including rare specimens that are mostly complete or still preserve the tips, making an important contribution to our limited understanding of Later Stone Age bone tool technology.