Atop Kasteelberg: Social Complexity in the Later Stone Age of South Africa

  • Karim SadrEmail author
Original Article


Kasteelberg is a prominent hill and a famous archaeological locality on the west coast of South Africa. It has abundant evidence of pre-colonial herding practices. In this paper, I describe the Later Stone Age hilltop site of KBDe and its excavated remains. I argue that KBDe is merely one part of an extensive site that covers the summit of Kasteelberg, and which includes the previously published locality KBA. From the late seventh to the mid-eleventh centuries AD, the hilltop was used as a location for conspicuous feasts. Hilltop settlements often broadcast higher social status, and Kasteelberg may be the oldest example of such signalling in South Africa.


Kasteelberg Herders Later Stone Age Vredenburg Peninsula West coast South Africa 


Kasteelberg est une colline importante et une localité archéologique réputée sur la côte ouest de l’Afrique du Sud. Il contient de nombreuses preuves de pratiques d’élevage précoloniales. Dans cet article, je décris les matériaux mis au jour à KBDe, un site situé au sommet de la colline. Je soutiens que KBDe n’est qu’une partie d’un vaste site qui couvre le sommet de Kasteelberg et inclut la localité précédemment publiée, KBA. De la fin du VIIe siècle au milieu du XIe siècle, le sommet de la colline servait de lieu de fête. Les villages perchés sont souvent associés à un statut social élevé, et Kasteelberg est peut-être l’exemple le plus ancien de ce type de signalisation en Afrique du Sud.



The fieldwork could not have been accomplished without the generous support of Andrew Smith and his team at the University of Cape Town, and the Kotze family at the farm Rooiheuwel.


This study was funded by Wenner-Gren Foundation (Grant 6996), and the German Research Foundation (DFG; SFB-389).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental StudiesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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