Hjem
  • E-postKaren.Niekerk@uib.no
  • Telefon+47 55 58 38 14
  • Besøksadresse
    Øysteinsgate 3
  • Postadresse
    Postboks 7805
    5020 Bergen

Tracing the origins of behaviourally modern Homo sapiens in southern Africa

Our project focuses explicitly on the period between 100-50 ka (thousand years ago), a time of remarkable technological and behavioural expansion amongst ancestral modern humans. This project is unique and innovative in taking a macro and micro-scale approach to examine the links between material culture, innovation, subsistence and micro-environments. Currently we have only episodic views or ‘snapshots’ of early human behaviour. Also existing ages of occupations at post-100 ka archaeological sites in southern Africa are queried and need review, as does the reliance on environmental proxies disconnected from the human record. Focusing on the southern Cape, a key locus for early human occupation, our research teams analysed materials excavated from three Middle Stone Age archaeological sites Blombos Cave, Klipdrift Shelter, Klipdrift  Cave Lower and one Later Stone Age site, Klipdrift Cave. Our 2015-2016 published results about these sites have demonstrated their unequalled richness and integrity, and highlights their ground-breaking contribution to our understanding of modern humans in this region, indeed for Africa as a whole. The benefits of our team using precision excavation and recording techniques, innovative analytical and dating methods, and new theoretical approaches are demonstrated in our publications that highlight the behavioural innovations and subsistence practices that emerged in this region after 100 ka. Additionally our publications have directly linked these cultural records to changing environmental conditions observed in site-based archives. Our integrated macro- and microscale approach is defining a new paradigm in international archaeological research. With our inter-disciplinary team of archaeologists, dating specialists and climatologists, we believe that our research group will continue to establish a new scientific standard for assessing the relationships between human culture and the natural world in which it operates.

Utvalgte publikasjoner
  • Henshilwood, Christopher; d'Errico, Francesco; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Dayet, Laure; Queffelec, Alain; Pollarolo, Luca. 2018. An abstract drawing from the 73,000-year-old levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Nature. 562: 115-118. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0514-3
  • Ryano, Kokeli Peter; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Henshilwood, Christopher; Wurz, Sarah Jacoba Deborah. 2018. Shellfishing at Klipdrift Cave during the Oakhurst, ca. 12–10 ka, in the southern Cape coast, South Africa: human predation pressure, dietary and climatic implications.
  • d'Errico, Francesco; Banks, William E.; Warren, Dan L.; Sgubin, Giovanni; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Henshilwood, Christopher; Daniau, A; Goñi, María Fernanda Sánchez. 2017. Identifying early modern human ecological niche expansions and associated cultural dynamics in the South African Middle Stone Age. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 114: 7869-7876. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1620752114
  • Badenhorst, Shaw; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Henshilwood, Christopher. 2016. Large mammal remains from the 100 ka Middle Stone Age layers of Blombos Cave, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin. 71: 46-52.
  • Roberts, Patrick; Henshilwood, Christopher; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Keene, Petro; Gledhill, Andrew; Reynard, Jerome; Badenhorst, Shaw; Lee-thorp, Julia. 2016. Climate, environment and early human innovation: Stable isotope and faunal proxy evidence from archaeological sites (98-59ka) in the southern Cape, South Africa. PLOS ONE. 11:e0157408. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157408
  • Ryano, Kokeli Peter; Wurz, Sarah Jacoba Deborah; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Henshilwood, Christopher. 2017. The Technology of the Early Oakhurst Lithic Techno-Complex from Klipdrift Cave, Southern Cape, South Africa. African Archaeological Review. 34: 93-119. doi: 10.1007/s10437-017-9246-2
  • Reynard, Jerome; Discamps, Emmanuel; Wurz, Sarah Jacoba Deborah; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Badenhorst, Shaw; Henshilwood, Christopher. 2016. Occupational intensity and environmental changes during the Howiesons Poort at Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 449: 349-364. doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.02.035
  • Moyo, Stanley; Mphuti, Dikeledi; Cukrowska, Ewa; Henshilwood, Christopher; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Chimuka, Luke. 2016. Blombos Cave: Middle Stone Age ochre differentiation through FTIR, ICP OES, ED XRF and XRD. Quaternary International. 404: 20-29. doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.09.041
  • Reynard, Jerome; Discamps, Emmanuel; Badenhorst, Shaw; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Henshilwood, Christopher. 2016. Subsistence strategies in the southern Cape during the Howiesons Poort: Taphonomic and zooarchaeological analyses of Klipdrift Shelter, South Africa. Quaternary International. 404: 2-19. doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.07.041
  • Harvati, Katerina; Bauer, Catherine C.; Grine, Frederick E.; Benazzi, Stefano; Ackerman, Rebecca Rogers; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Henshilwood, Christopher. 2015. A human deciduous molar from the Middle Stone Age (Howiesons Poort) of Klipdrift Shelter, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution. 82: 190-196. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.03.001
  • Badenhorst, Shaw; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Henshilwood, Christopher. 2014. Rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) from Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. African Archaeological Review. 31: 25-43. doi: 10.1007/s10437-014-9154-7
  • Vanhaeren, Marian; d'Errico, Francesco; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Henshilwood, Christopher; Erasmus, Rudolph M. 2013. Thinking strings: Additional evidence for personal ornament use in the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution. 64: 500-517. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.02.001
  • Henshilwood, Christopher; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Wurz, Sarah Jacoba Deborah; Delagnes, Anne; Armitage, Simon; Rifkin, Riaan; Douze, Katja; Keene, Petro; Haaland, Magnus Mathisen; Reynard, Jerome; Discamps, Emmanuel; Mienies, Samantha. 2014. Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa: preliminary report on the Howiesons Poort layers. Journal of Archaeological Science. 45: 284-303. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2014.01.033
  • Henshilwood, Christopher; d'Errico, Francesco; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Coquinot, Yvan; Jacobs, Zenobia; Lauritzen, Stein-Erik; Menu, Michel; Garcia-Moreno, Renata. 2011. A 100,000-Year-Old Ochre-Processing Workshop at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Science. 334: 219-222. doi: 10.1126/science.1211535
  • Langejans, Geeske H.J.; Van Niekerk, Karen Loise; Dusseldorp, Gerrit L.; Thackeray, J. Francis. 2012. Middle Stone Age shellfish exploitation: Potential indications for mass collecting and resource intensification at Blombos Cave and Klasies River, South Africa. Quaternary International. 270: 80-94. doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2011.09.003
  • 2020. The Origins of Early Sapiens Behaviour 'Mother Africa - Welcome Home'.
  • 2020. Large mammal exploitation during the c. 14-11 ka Oakhurst techno-complex at Klipdrift Cave, South Africa. . South African Journal of Science.
  • 2020. 230Th/U Burial Dating of Ostrich Eggshell: A New Geochronometer for Pleistocene Archaeological Sites.
  • 2019. Shellfish exploitation during the Oakhurst at Klipdrift Cave, southern Cape, South Africa. South African Journal of Science. 8 sider.
  • 2019. Patterns of U uptake and implications for diagenesis and trace element records in biomineral eggshell.
  • 2019. Origins of Early Sapiens Behaviour.
  • 2019. MIS 5c-d at Klasies River: An analysis of microfossils to infe paleoenvironmental conditions.
  • 2019. Local environmental context of the Howiesons Poort sequence at Klipdrift Shelter, South Africa .
  • 2019. Excavation and analysis from Blombos Cave and Klipdrift Shelter.
  • 2019. Evaluating the temporal range of 230Th/U burial dating of ostrich eggshell, a new chronometer for Pleistocene terrestrial strata .
  • 2019. A reassessment of the luminescence chronology for Blombos Cave, South Africa.
  • 2019. 'Origins of Early Sapiens Behaviour - Mother Africa - Welcome Home'.
  • 2018. The 3D-reconstruction of a modified ochre fragment trapped inside a micromorphological block sample from the Middle Stone Age levels of Blombos Cave, South Africa.
  • 2018. South Africa’s Blombos cave is home to the earliest drawing by a human. The Conversation.
  • 2018. Shellfishing at Klipdrift Cave during the Oakhurst, ca. 12–10 ka, in the southern Cape coast, South Africa: human predation pressure, dietary and climatic implications.
  • 2018. Les premières utilisations du rouge en Afrique.
  • 2018. Investigation of Middle Stone Age occupation deposits in Blombos Cave, South Africa: evidence for changes in site-use and settlement dynamics in the Southern Cape during the MIS 5b-4 (94 – 72 ka).
  • 2018. Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour exhibition.
  • 2018. An abstract drawing from the 73,000-year-old levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Nature. 115-118.
  • 2018. #L13 - The earliest drawing sheds light on the origin of symbolism.
  • 2017. U-TH BURIAL DATING OF OSTRICH EGGSHELLS: A NOVEL APPROACH TO DATING AFRICAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SEQUENCES BEYOND THE 14C LIMIT.
  • 2017. The Technology of the Early Oakhurst Lithic Techno-Complex from Klipdrift Cave, Southern Cape, South Africa. African Archaeological Review. 93-119.
  • 2017. Shellfish and tortoise exploitation during the Oakhurst at Klipdrift Cave, southern Cape, South Africa: human predation pressure and climatic implications.
  • 2017. Middle Stone Age ochre contexts in Blombos Cave, South-Africa: a macro- and micro-contextual background.
  • 2017. Identifying early modern human ecological niche expansions and associated cultural dynamics in the South African Middle Stone Age. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 7869-7876.
  • 2017. Evaluating the nature and behavioral implications of laterally extensive occupation deposits in the Middle Stone Age levels of Blombos Cave, South Africa.
  • 2016. What excavated beads tell us about the when and where of human evolution. The Conversation.
  • 2016. The habitual heat treatment of silcrete by the Howiesons Poort groups from southern Africa.
  • 2016. Subsistence strategies in the southern Cape during the Howiesons Poort: Taphonomic and zooarchaeological analyses of Klipdrift Shelter, South Africa. Quaternary International. 2-19.
  • 2016. Occupational intensity and environmental changes during the Howiesons Poort at Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 349-364.
  • 2016. Large mammal remains from the 100 ka Middle Stone Age layers of Blombos Cave, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin. 46-52.
  • 2016. Homo sapiens: Blombos Cave. 4 sider.
  • 2016. Early evidence for the extensive heat treatment of silcrete in the Howiesons Poort at Klipdrift Shelter (layer PBD, 65 ka), South Africa. PLOS ONE.
  • 2016. Climate, environment and early human innovation: Stable isotope and faunal proxy evidence from archaeological sites (98-59ka) in the southern Cape, South Africa. PLOS ONE.
  • 2016. Blombos Cave: Middle Stone Age ochre differentiation through FTIR, ICP OES, ED XRF and XRD. Quaternary International. 20-29.
  • 2016. Blombos.
  • 2015. Tracing the behavioural evolution of Homo sapiens in southern Africa.
  • 2015. The engraved ostrich eggshell from the Howiesons Poort layers at Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa.
  • 2015. Single-grain OSL dating of the Howiesons Poort layers at Klipdrift Shelter, Southern Cape, South Africa. AFQUA, Inaugural Conference and Workshops, 30 Jan - 7 Feb, 2015, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
  • 2015. New archaeological excavations of Later and Middle Stone Age deposits at the Klipdrift Complex, southern Cape, South Africa: 2010-2013.
  • 2015. Heating silcrete: innovation, invention or simple opportunistic behavior for the MSA groups?
  • 2015. Diachronic change within the Still Bay at Blombos Cave, South Africa. PLOS ONE.
  • 2015. Assessing the accidental versus deliberate color modification of shell beads. A case study on perforated Nassarius kraussianus from Blombos Cave Middle Stone Age levels. Archaeometry. 51-76.
  • 2015. A human deciduous molar from the Middle Stone Age (Howiesons Poort) of Klipdrift Shelter, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution. 190-196.
  • 2014. Stable carbon and oxygen isotope analysis of ostrich eggshell provides evidence for climatic change during the emergence of the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort technocomplexes on the southern Cape coast of South Africa.
  • 2014. Single-grain OSL dating of the Howiesons Poort layers at Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa.
  • 2014. Rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) from Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. African Archaeological Review. 25-43.
  • 2014. Patterns of changes over the Howiesons Poort sequence at Klipdrift Shelter (South Africa).
  • 2014. New archaeological excavations of Later and Middle Stone Age deposits at the Klipdrift Complex, southern Cape, South Africa: 2010-2013.
  • 2014. Middle Stone Age fauna from Blombos Cave.
  • 2014. Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa: preliminary report on the Howiesons Poort layers. Journal of Archaeological Science. 284-303.
  • 2014. Il y a 100 000 ans, un atelier pour la préparation et le stockage de mélanges pigmentés. Paleo. 117-124.
  • 2014. Heat treatment of silcrete in the southern African MSA: the heating procedure and its implications for the chaine operatoire.
  • 2014. Engraved ostrich eggshells from the Howiesons Poort layers at Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa.
  • 2014. ED-XRF and FTIR Differentiation of ochre from the Middle Stone Age Layers of Blombos Cave, South Africa-A Preliminary study.
  • 2014. Blombos Cave: The Middle Stone Age Levels.
  • 2013. Thinking strings: Additional evidence for personal ornament use in the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution. 500-517.
  • 2013. Preliminary report on the shellfish remains from the Mesolithic layers at Olsteinhelleren (5.6 – 4.7ka BC) and Sævarhelleren (7-5.8ka BC) (presented in absentia).
  • 2013. A hazy shade of winter: Late Pleistocene environments and behavioural adaptations at Blombos Cave, South Africa. 33 sider.
  • 2012. Trekking the Shore. Changing Coastlines and the Antiquity of Coastal Settlement. Bicho, N.F., Haws, J.A. & Davis, L.G. (editors) 2011. New York: Springer. I–XXX 496 pp. ISBN 978-1- 4419-8218-6 (hardback). South African Archaeological Bulletin. 150-151.
  • 2012. Preliminary report on Klipdrift Shelter.
  • 2012. Middle Stone Age shellfish exploitation: Potential indications for mass collecting and resource intensification at Blombos Cave and Klasies River, South Africa. Quaternary International. 80-94.
  • 2012. Middle Stone Age Chemists - a 100 000-year-old pigment processing workshop at Blombos Cave. The Digging Stick. 1-5.
  • 2012. Analytical techniques: Deciphering a 100,000 Year Old Ochre Processing Workshop at Blombos Cave, South Africa.
  • 2011. Marine fish exploitation during the Middle and Later Stone Age of South Africa.
  • 2011. A 100,000-Year-Old Ochre-Processing Workshop at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Science. 219-222.
  • 2009. From the origin of language to the diversification of languages: What can archaeology and palaeoanthropology say? 56 sider.
  • 2008. The > 100 ka levels at Blombos Cave, southern Cape: an update on recent and older excavations at the site.
  • 2005. The Archaeology of Fishing: Establishing a Comparative Collection and Subsequent Analysis of Marine Fish Bone from Holocene levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa.
  • 2005. Nassarius kraussianus shell beads from Blombos Cave: evidence for symbolic behaviour in the Middle Stone Age. Journal of Human Evolution. 3-24.
  • 2001. Blombos Cave, southern Cape, South Africa: Preliminary report on the 1992 – 1999 excavations of the Middle Stone Age levels. Journal of Archaeological Science. 421-448.

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