Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Stone Age Weaponry

Part of the series Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology pp 273-286


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 LombardAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology and Development Studies, University of Johannesburg Email author 
  • , Lyn WadleyAffiliated withEvolutionary Studies Institute, Centre of Excellence, Palaeosciences, University of the Witwatersrand

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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