Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion
Published Article

Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa: preliminary report on the Howiesons Poort layers

Christopher Henshilwood et al

Klipdrift Cave Shelter
Journal of Archaeological Science

Main content

An open access article by Christopher Henshilwood and other researchers at the departement has been published in Journal of Archaeological Science.

Co-authors: Karen L. van Niekerk (UiB), Sarah Wurz (UiB), Anne Delagnes, Simon J. Armitage, Riaan F. Rifkin (UiB), Katja Douze, Petro Keene, Magnus M. Haaland (UiB), Jerome Reynard, Emmanuel Discamps (UiB), Samantha S. Mienies.



Surveys for archaeological sites in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, southern Cape, South Africa resulted in the discovery of a cave complex comprising two locations, Klipdrift Cave and Klipdrift Shelter. Excavations commenced in 2010 with Later Stone Age deposits being recovered at the former site and Middle Stone Age deposits at the latter. The lithic component at Klipdrift Shelter is consistent with the Howiesons Poort, a technological complex recorded at a number of archaeological sites in southern Africa. The age for these deposits at Klipdrift Shelter, obtained by single grain optically stimulated luminescence, spans the period c. 65 – 60 ka. Controlled and accurate excavations of the discrete, anthropogenically deposited layers have resulted in the recovery of a hominin molar, marine shells, terrestrial fauna, floral remains, organic materials, hearths, lithics, ochre and ostrich egg shell. More than 60 pieces of the latter, distributed across the layers, are engraved with diverse, abstract patterns. The preliminary results from Klipdrift Shelter presented in this report provide new insights into the Howiesons Poort in this region and contribute further to the ongoing debate surrounding the early behavioural origins of Homo sapiens in southern Africa. Excavations at the Klipdrift Complex will continue in the future.