The Archaeology of Stork fontain : A Descriptive and Comparative Analysis of Early hominid Culture
This study focuses on the site of Sterkfontein, located in the Transvaal Province of South Africa. Sterkfontein is one of a very limited number of stratified sites that have yielded Plio-Pleistocene hominid fossil remains and early stone artifacts. More than 40 years of research there have led to the recovery, from several stratigraphic levels, of numerous fossil remains of both Australopithecus and Homo, a rich Plio-Pleistocene fauna, and almost 3000 stone artifacts. 'This study is concerned primarily with the archaeology and paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the artifact bearing deposits and their implications for our understanding of human behavioral and biological evolution. A discussion is presented of the geological and stratigraphic situation at Sterkfontein, the mode of accumulation and spatial distribution of the artifacts, and the procedure used to sort stone artifacts of Earlier Stone Age antiquity from natural stone and fro:n artifacts of you,'1ger age. A detailed description of the Sterkfontein artifacts is presented using the classification system devised by M.D. Leakey. The typological characteristics are supplemented by systematic records of selected qualitative and quantitative attributes. This same system of description and analysis was applied to four assemblages from Bed II at Olduvai Gorge to provide comparative samples with w:!1ichto test various hypotheses concerning the meaning of stone artifact and assemblage variability. The results of the comparative analysis of the Olduvai and Sterkfontein assemblages, using both univariat8 and multivariate computer assisted methods, have led me to conclude that the Sterkfontein assemblage belongs within the Acheulian Industrial Complex. Furthermore, evidence was produced that suggested that the Developed Oldowan B industry as defined by M.D. Leakey differed fro~ the Early Acheulian because of differential use of raw material in biface manufacture. I have proposed that the term Developed Oldowan B be dropped as an industrial taxon in favor of considering all assemblages dated to the Early or Middle Pleistocene containing bifaces as being part of a highly variable Acheulian Industrial Complex. The results of faunal, isotopic, sedimentological, and pollen studies were presented that suggested that the climate at the time of occupation of Sterkfontein by the tool-maker was warmer and drier than at the present time and that the vegetation consisted chiefly o~ open grassland. Biostratigraphy and faunal and hominid correlations with dated sites indicated that the artifact assemblage is approximately 1.5-+0.3 m.y. BP in age. Hominid fossil remains recovered from the same stratigraphic horizon as the stone artifacts have tentatively been identified as belonging to an early member of the genus Homo The hominid fossil record and paleoenvironmental data frc~ East and South Africa lead me to believe that Homo and the robust form of australopithecine diverged from Australopithecus africanus between 2.2 and 2.0 m.y. BP as adaptive responses to changing climatic and environmental conditions towards increased aridity. The emergence of Homo was characterized by a feeding behavior oriented increasingly towards meat procurement, which involved structural changes in both social organization and physiology. The most important characteristics of these changes are manifested in the archaeological record at Sterkfontein by evidence of tool-making, meat-eating, organization around a home base, and increase in cranial capacity.
CitationDoctor of Philosophy in Anthropology, University of Nairobi (1980)
University of Nairobi.Department of anthropology
The Author Studied at the University of California Berkeley