Over the last few decades, investigations of the southern African Late Pleistocene archeological record have transformed our understanding of Homo sapiens origins and evolution. However, the intensity of research on coastal and near-coastal records has surpassed that in the deep interior. One reason for the geographic bias is the rarity of well-preserved, datable rockshelter sites outside the more mountainous and karstic regions of South Africa. Here, we report stratified Middle Stone Age and Later Stone Age deposits at Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter (GHN), near Kuruman, in the Northern Cape, South Africa. Contrary to a previous report, we show that the archeological deposits are in good context with minimal disturbance based on a detailed fabric analysis of plotted finds. Three dating methods, single-grain optically stimulated luminescence, radiocarbon, and uranium-thorium, indicate that the artifact-bearing deposits date to ~ 105 ka, ~ 31 ka, and ~ 15 ka. Thus, Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter provides an important opportunity to investigate early human adaptation in this semiarid region of southern Africa.
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We acknowledge and pay respects to the traditional owners of the land on which GHN is located. Thank you to the Baga Motlhware Traditional Council for the permission to work at Ga-Mohana. We would also like to thank David Morris, Kgosi P.P. Toto, Simon Hall, Michael Chazan, Curtis Marean, Peter Beaumont, Andy Herries, Nicholas Zachariou, Tessa Campbell, Mpho Cornelius, South African Heritage Resources Agency, and McGregor Museum. Thank you to UCT staff Louisa Hutton, Dolores Jacobs, Deborah Walbrugh, and Rene van der Merwe, and all student lab and field contributors who helped with this project (Jess von der Meden, Navashni Naidoo, Jani Louw, Leesha Richardson, Nathan Bickerton, Alyssa Eltzholtz, Josh Giesken, Tamara Jeggels, Mabeth Crafford, Tara Edwards, Khumo Matlhoko, Ayanda Mdludlu, Alicen Munn, Chris Shelton, Wendy Khumalo, Patricia Groenwalde, Josie Burness, Michaela Heale, Rachel Westbrook, Trisha Patel, Precious Chiware, Bacara Spruit, Batande Getyengana). Thank you also to the University of Melbourne, John Hellstrom, Petra Bajo, and Helen Green. We are grateful for the constructive comments from Manuel Will and four anonymous reviewers on an earlier version of the manuscript.
Funding was provided by the University of Cape Town, National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence (COE) in Palaeosciences, Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST), National Research Foundation-African Origins Platform (AOP150924142990), a National Geographic Society-Waitt Grant, and an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award (DE 190100160).
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Wilkins, J., Schoville, B.J., Brown, K.S. et al. Fabric Analysis and Chronology at Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter, Southern Kalahari Basin: Evidence for In Situ, Stratified Middle and Later Stone Age Deposits. J Paleo Arch 3, 336–361 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41982-020-00050-9