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Radiocarbon Dates Constrain the Timing of Environmental and Cultural Shifts in the Holocene Strata of Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 June 2017

Michaela Ecker
Affiliation:
Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
James Brink
Affiliation:
Florisbad Quaternary Research Department, National Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa Centre for Environmental Management, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Michael Chazan
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Liora Kolska Horwitz
Affiliation:
National Natural History Collections, Faculty of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
Julia A Lee-Thorp
Affiliation:
Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Corresponding

Abstract

Wonderwerk Cave has yielded one of the longest and most complete Holocene Later Stone Age (LSA) records for the arid interior of South Africa. This paper presents the results of a new radiocarbon dating program for Excavation 1 that is explored within a Bayesian model of all existing Wonderwerk Cave radiocarbon (14C) dates for the Holocene. The proposed model, using Phases within an OxCal Sequence model, provides robust age estimates for changes in the technological and paleoenvironmental record at the site. The more precise dates allow a comparison of the timing of climate shifts across the interior of southern Africa and begin to allow us to identify whether hiatuses in human occupation, or cultural shifts, are synchronous across broader areas of the subcontinent, or not.

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Research Article
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Copyright
© 2017 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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