Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 205-237

First online:

Late Pleistocene Techno-traditions in Southern Africa: A Review of the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort, c. 75–59 ka

  • Christopher S. HenshilwoodAffiliated withInstitute for Archaeology, History, Culture and Religion, University of BergenInstitute for Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand Email author 

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The focus of this paper is on two remarkable techno-traditions in the prehistory of southern Africa, the c. 75–71 ka Still Bay and the c. 65–59 ka Howiesons Poort. These were periods when the technological and behavioural repertoire of early Homo sapiens expanded rapidly to include novel technologies such as heat treatment of lithic materials, pressure flaking of stone points, manufacture of complex armatures including the bow and arrow, and the production of symbolic artefacts including shell beads and engraved ochre, bone and ostrich eggshell. In this paper I first review briefly the historical background relating to the recognition of these techno-traditions; second, concentrate on the archaeological sites known to contain these assemblages within southern Africa; and third, discuss aspects of the precocious material culture that appears during these phases.


Middle Stone Age Africa Still Bay Howiesons Poort Behaviour Homo sapiens