Hunting Technologies During the Howiesons Poort at Sibudu Cave: What They Reveal About Human Cognition in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Between ~65 and 62 ka

  • Marlize LombardEmail author
  • Lyn Wadley
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)


Encounter hunting, especially of big game, is an activity firmly associated with people who lived in the Middle Stone Age. Most hunting is assumed to have taken place in groups, using spears of varying complexity. Recent data suggest that various meat-acquisition techniques were used, at least within the last 65 ka. Bow-and-arrow sets as well as snares appear to have complemented spear hunting. Many archaeologists have devoted a great deal of time to the study of lithic technologies required for the creation of spearheads and arrow tips. Rarely, however, have the cognitive correlates of Middle Stone Age meat-acquisition technologies been considered. Here we show that the mental concepts behind the meat-acquisition strategies are equally, or perhaps, more important than the technological complexity involved in manufacturing the necessary equipment. Notwithstanding this claim, it is also true that the longer the chain of operations involved in making composite weapons, the more likely it is that complex cognition was a prerequisite.


Bow hunting Game snares Human cognition Middle Stone Age 



We thank the editors for inviting us to contribute to this volume. We also thank friends and colleagues who worked with us on the presented material and/or ideas, as well as those who reviewed the manuscript. The research of both authors was funded by grants received from the South African National Research Foundation (NRF). Opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by the NRF and any errors in the paper are ours.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and Development StudiesUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Evolutionary Studies Institute, Centre of Excellence, PalaeosciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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