Post-depositional disturbance and spatial organization at exposed open-air sites: examples from the Middle Stone Age of the Makgadikgadi Basin, Botswana

Sigrid Staurset, Sheila Coulson, Sarah Mothulatshipi, Sallie Burrough, David Nash, David Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The influence of natural factors such as bioturbation or sediment movement caused by wind and water is a perennial concern for Stone Age site selection and subsequent interpretation.This paper discusses the spatial artefact distribution of five recently excavated, exposed open-air Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites in Ntwetwe Pan, Botswana. The sites were examined following the assumption that archaeological sites are the product of a combination of natural and cultural factors, occurring both during and after artefacts are deposited. The results indicate that some of these exposed pan floor sites do preserve cultural artefact distribution patterns, and that the level of post-depositional disturbance varies locally. Refitting was an important tool of analysis, especially on the largest site, MAK33, where it was possible to identify working areas that focussed on different modes of lithic manufacture. In combination with a chaîne opératoire analysis of lithic production stages, it was then possible to map movement of artefacts across the site. We argue that the spatial organization of open-air sites may preserve behavioural records that are not present at caves and rock shelters, and provide a view into the short-term, single-use locations that likely formed the basis of MSA occupation patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107824
Number of pages18
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume301
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This interdisciplinary project was funded by the Leverhulme Trust . Additional funding and aid were gratefully received from the University of Oxford , the University of Brighton , the University of Botswana, the University of Oslo and Norsk Arkeologisk Selskap. We also wish to acknowledge the continued support of the National Museum of Botswana for laboratory space, the loan of equipment and storage and especially to the Head of Archaeology, Phillip Segadika, for his continued support and advice. Our appreciation goes to Ralph Bousfield and Uncharted Africa for generous advice, access to field research station, facilities and storage, and field assistance and to the owners and staff of Gweta Lodge for field assistance and sharing of local knowledge. Our thanks to Eric Walker for his continued assistance. We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers whose constructive and helpful suggestions improved this manuscript.

Funding Information:
These investigations were carried out under research permit EWT 8/36/4 XXXV (9), issued April 22, 2016 by the Botswana Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (ref EWT 8/36/4 XXXV (52)), extended on June 29, 2018 by the Botswana Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism (ref ENT 8/36/4 XXXXII (43)). This interdisciplinary project was funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Additional funding and aid were gratefully received from the University of Oxford, the University of Brighton, the University of Botswana, the University of Oslo and Norsk Arkeologisk Selskap. We also wish to acknowledge the continued support of the National Museum of Botswana for laboratory space, the loan of equipment and storage and especially to the Head of Archaeology, Phillip Segadika, for his continued support and advice. Our appreciation goes to Ralph Bousfield and Uncharted Africa for generous advice, access to field research station, facilities and storage, and field assistance and to the owners and staff of Gweta Lodge for field assistance and sharing of local knowledge. Our thanks to Eric Walker for his continued assistance. We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers whose constructive and helpful suggestions improved this manuscript. Most of all, we wish to express our gratitude and appreciation to University of Botswana students Oratile Ramore, Cathrine Legabe, Jane Masisi, Topo Mpho Chengeta, Casper Lekgetho and Agang Motlaleng for their diligence and contributions to archaeology through their fieldwork in Ntwetwe Pan.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

Keywords

  • refitting
  • chaîne opératoire
  • post-depositional disturbance
  • site taphonomy
  • spatial organisation
  • open-air site
  • Middle Stone Age
  • Chaîne opératoire
  • Post-depositional disturbance
  • Exposed open-air site
  • Refitting
  • Silcrete
  • Site taphonomy
  • Spatial organization

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