Heritage Cases

Temporary export of coarse-grained lithics and sieved material Umhlatuzana for analysis





Case Type: 


Temporary export of coarse-grained stone tools and sieved materials from Umhlatuzana rockshelter for technological analysis and raw material characterisation


The site of Umhlatuzana contains an important archaeological sequence documenting the later part of the Middle Stone Age and most of the Later Stone Age (Kaplan 1990; Lombard et al. 2010). The transition of the Middle to Later Stone Age is currently not very well understood. Fieldwork in 2018 and 2019 has yielded assemblages in which all artefacts >2cm were piece-plotted (Sifogeorgakis et al, 2020). This dataset is well-suited to study the transitional assemblages. The coarse-grained assemblages from Umhlatuzana have mainly been analysed from a typological perspective. We aim to compare the technological procedures used on these materials with those used on more-fine grained (i.e. more easily shaped) raw materials. In addition, preliminary observations on thin sections suggest more variability in raw materials is present in the assemblage than visually apparent. Some of the pieces are in quartzite, but other rock types are also present in the assemblages. To better understand the variability of raw materials used, we will conduct non-destructive chemical characterisation using XRF analysis, of some pieces. We also aim to compare the relative abundance of the different coarse-grained materials with their abundance in the small, sieved materials. After analysis, the artefacts and file of the chemical characterisation will be returned to the KwaZulu-Natal Museum in Pietermaritzburg.


Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 15:24




Heritage Reports: 


Citation Type Date Retrieved
Kaplan, J. (1990). The Umhlatuzana Rock Shelter sequence: 100 000 years of Stone Age history. Natal Museum Journal of Humanities, 2, 1-94. Journal
Sifogeorgaki, I., Klinkenberg, V., Esteban, I., Murungi, M., Carr, A.S., Van den Brink, V.B., Dusseldorp, G.L., 2020. New excavations at Umhlatuzana rockshelter KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: A stratigraphical and taphonomical evaluation. African Archaeological Review 37, 551-578. Journal
Lombard, M., Wadley, L., Jacobs, Z., Mohapi, M., & Roberts, R. G. (2010). Still Bay and serrated points from Umhlatuzana rock shelter, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37, 1773–1784.

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