Middle and Later Stone Age large mammal and tortoise remains from die Kelders Cave 1, Western Cape Province, South Africa
Klein, R.G.; Cruz-Uribe, K.
Journal of Human Evolution 38(1): 169-195
ISSN/ISBN: 0047-2484 PMID: 10627402 DOI: 10.1006/jhev.1999.0355
Die Kelders Cave 1, South Africa, has provided more than 150,000 taxonomically identifiable mammal and tortoise bones from Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Later Stone Age (LSA) deposits. Cape dune mole-rats dominate the mammal sample, and they appear to have been accumulated mainly by people during the LSA occupation and mainly by eagle owls in the MSA. In sharp contrast to the LSA fauna, the MSA sample contains extralimital ungulates that imply relatively moist, grassy conditions. The large mean size of the MSA mole-rats also points to greater humidity, while the large size of the gray mongooses implies cooler temperatures. The sum supports luminescence and ESR dates that place the MSA occupation within the early part of the Last Glaciation (global isotope stage 4). The Die Kelders ungulate bones support those from Klasies River Mouth in suggesting that MSA people obtained dangerous terrestrial prey much less frequently than their LSA successors, probably because MSA people lacked the bow and arrow and other projectile weapons. The Die Kelders tortoise bones constrain the extent of climatic change, since their abundance indicates that warm, dry days remained common, at least seasonally. The tortoises tend to be much larger in the MSA layers than in the LSA ones, suggesting that MSA people collected tortoises less intensively, probably because MSA populations were relatively sparse.