Blombos Cave: The Middle Stone Age Levels

  • Christopher Stuart Henshilwood
  • Karen Loise van Niekerk
Living reference work entry


Blombos Cave, an archaeological site situated on the southern Cape coastline, South Africa, contains Middle Stone Age (MSA) deposits dated at between c. 130 and 72 ka (ka = 1000 years ago), possibly the most important period in the early development of modern human behavior. Since 1992 each excavation season at the site has yielded important new information on the behavioral evolution of Homo sapiens. This includes, at c. 75 ka, among the earliest known evidence for the manufacture of personal ornaments on shell beads, formal bone tool production, engraving of abstract designs on ochre and bone, the deliberate heating of silcrete, a lithic raw material, and the subsequent manufacture of bifacial stone points on this material using pressure flaking. In the 100 ka levels, a complex toolkit was uncovered that provides the oldest known evidence for the use of containers and for the production of an ochre-rich pigment or paint. These findings from Blombos Cave and subsequent...

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Further Reading

  1. Henshilwood, C.S., and J. Sealy. 1997. Bone artefacts from the middle stone age at Blombos cave, southern cape, South Africa. Current Anthropology 38 (5): 890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  3. Soressi, M. 2005. Aux origines de la «modernité» comportementale en Afrique du sud il ya 75 000 ans. Annales de la Fondation Fyssen 20: 124–131.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Stuart Henshilwood
    • 1
    • 2
  • Karen Loise van Niekerk
    • 1
  1. 1.SFF Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE)University of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Evolutionary Studies InstituteUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marcel Otte
    • 1
  1. 1.Service of PrehistoryUniversity of LiègeLiègeBelgium