Klasies River as a 120,000-Year-Old Archive of Human Behavior in South Africa

Session Date: 
May 31, 2019

Klasies River main site was a favored home base for southern Cape humans between 120 000 and 2300 years ago, leading to the build-up of more than 21 meters of superimposed shell middens. The fossils of early modern humans preserved within the deposits provide a unique glimpse into the appearance of human ancestors from the southern Cape coast and on aspects of their behavior. The extensive midden deposits show that hunter-gatherer-fisher groups visited the site throughout the climatic and environmental fluctuations of the last 120 000 years. They responded dynamically and flexibly to such changes by adapting their subsistence behavior and technologies.  Similar plasticity and complexity are evidenced in their stone tools and the utilization of pigments. The extent of the well-preserved archaeological remains, evidence for the early utilization of marine resources, dynamic responses to changing contexts and cultural ingenuity, bear testament to early human ancestors’ expert abilities to thrive in the Stone Age. The Klasies River archive highlights the achievements of early African populations and the role that they played in the development of humankind.

File 2019_05_31_08_Wurz.mp488.45 MB