Four Field Colloquium Series: "Taphonomic and Paleoecological Change at Boomplaas Cave, Western Cape, South Africa" by J. Tyler Faith
The archaeological record of South Africa's Cape Floristic Region (CFR) features prominently in reconstructing the behavioral and ecological context of early modern humans. Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites from the CFR document the earliest recurrent evidence for complex material culture and symbolic behavior, including shell beads, decorated ochre and ostrich eggshell, worked pigments, and lithic heat treatment. Understanding why these behaviors emerged when and where they did requires an understanding of how they relate to past environments and human adaptations. Excavations at Boomplaas Cave, situated along the flanks of the Swartberg Mountains, uncovered MSA and Later Stone Age (LSA) artifacts and faunal remains spanning the last ~80,000 years. This presentation explores the taphonomy and paleoecology of the large mammal remains, with a focus on the interplay between human subsistence behavior, settlement strategies, and paleoenvironmental change. The combination of these lines of evidence provides a novel perspective on the interplay between human populations and environmental change through time.