African Archaeological Review

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 701–728 | Cite as

Technological Trends in the Acheulean of Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa

  • Michael Chazan
Original Article


The assemblage of stone tools from P. Beaumont’s Excavation 1 at Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape Province, South Africa, provides a unique stratified sequence covering a large part of the Earlier Stone Age. A combination of cosmogenic burial age and paleomagnetic age dating provides limited chronometric constraint on this sequence. The Wonderwerk sequence provides evidence for the development of Earlier Stone Age technology in southern Africa that parallels the sequence known from East Africa. This paper presents a technological discussion of biface technology at Wonderwerk Cave as well as an overview of the associated lithic assemblage.


Acheulean Lithic technology Earlier Stone Age Wonderwerk Cave Handaxe Biface 


L’assemblage lithique provenant des fouilles de P. Beaumont à la Grotte de Wonderwerk, Province du Cap du Nord, Afrique du Sud, présente une séquence stratifiée unique couvrant la plupart du Earlier Stone Age. Un programme de datation par isotopes cosmogenique et paleomagnetisme nous donnes un dégrée du contraint chronométrique sur cette séquence. La séquence de Wonderwerk donne des indices d’un développement de la technologie au cours d’Earlier Stone Age en Afrique du Sud parallèle à la séquence connue en Afrique d’Est. Cette article présent une étude technologique des bifaces a Wonderwerk aussi bien qu’un vue d’ensemble de l’assemblage lithique.



Research at Wonderwerk Cave has been funded by grants from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, The Wenner-Gren Foundation, Victoria College at the University of Toronto, and the University of Toronto program for International Student Experience. All fieldwork has taken place under permit from the South African Heritage Resources Agency, and work on the collection is under the terms of agreement with the McGregor Museum. The analysis of stone tools builds on the contributions of the members of the Wonderwerk Research Project and the results of the excavations by Peter Beaumont. I am grateful to all involved. Alexandra Sumner assisted with the analysis of flakes and Liora Horwitz, Paul Goldberg, and two reviewers provided valuable feedback on an initial draft of this article. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Colin Fortune, David Morris, and the staff of the McGregor Museum for making this work possible and their overall support for our project. I would also like to thank the University of Toronto students who have assisted with the often tedious work of sorting through the collections.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Evolutionary Studies InstituteUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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