Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

Beyond the Drip-Line: A High-Resolution Open-Air Holocene Hunter-Gatherer Sequence from Highland Lesotho

By Mitchell, Peter; Plug, Ina et al. | Antiquity, December 2011 | Go to article overview

Beyond the Drip-Line: A High-Resolution Open-Air Holocene Hunter-Gatherer Sequence from Highland Lesotho


Mitchell, Peter, Plug, Ina, Bailey, Geoff, Charles, Ruth, Esterhuysen, Amanda, Thorp, Julia Lee, Parker, Adrian, Woodborne, Stephan, Antiquity


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Introduction

Rockshelters loom large in the archaeology of hunter-gatherers worldwide--and southern Africa is no exception. Highly visible and easy to locate, they typically preserve well-stratified deposits rich in material culture and organic remains. Yet they capture only a fraction of people's activities, most of which took place beyond the drip-line. Landscape-oriented research (e.g. Sampson 1985) confirms that at many times and in many places people camped in the open, just like recent Kalahari Bushmen. Away from the coast, however, where shell middens provide obvious contexts for archaeological investigation (e.g. Jerardino & Yates 1997), few open-air sites of Holocene age have attracted serious excavation. In areas like the Karoo, the semi-arid interior of western South Africa, they are often deflated, with bone and macroplants poorly preserved, while elsewhere dense vegetation may render their discovery difficult. Rare exceptions have received only limited investigation.

This paper summarises work at an open-air site that, unusually, combines excellent faunal preservation, high quality spatial patterning and good temporal resolution over multiple occupation episodes. Likoaeng is significant for what ir tells us about hunter- gatherers in the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains of Lesotho, bur also because ir addresses wider debates, including the exploitation of aquatic resources (freshwater fish), shifts in seasonal focus linked to climate change, and forager acquisition of domestic livestock. Such debates have broad relevance since issues of intensification using resources of the kind that Hayden (1990) terms r-selected, the impact of global climatic pulses like the late Holocene Neoglacial (e.g. Jerardino 1995), and the relations between hunter-gatherers and farmers (Spielmann & Eder 1994) are topics far from unique to southern Africa. For Bushman rock art the critical role of ethnohistoric observations of painted sites in the very part of the Maloti- Drakensberg mountains where Likoaeng is located (Lewis-Williams 2003) also means that archaeological excavations there can help establish something of the historical dynamics of the region's late Holocene forager societies and thus the reliability with which late nineteenth-century comments can, or should, be generalised across time and space.

Stratigraphy and sequence

Likoaeng (29[degrees]44'08"S, 28[degrees]45'47"E; 1725m asl) lies in Lesotho's eastern highlands at a confluence where a small stream joins the Senqu (Orange) River (Figures 1 & 2, upper). The site was discovered as a result of a flood event that had cut through the deposit and left ir open to erosion: no artefacts were visible on the surface. Excavations in 1995 and 1998 proceeded stratigraphically to a depth of 4.5m, decreasing from an original 30[m.sup.2] to a smaller 3.5[m.sup.2] trench (Figures 2, lower & 3). Spatial control was maintained by employing 0.25[m.sup.2] quadrats and three-dimensionally recording significant finds; all sediment (except that from culturally sterile layers and the 1995 component of Layer I) was sieved through a 2mm mesh.

Likoaeng's stratigraphy is relatively straightforward (Figure 4), consisting of occupation levels separated by episodes of flooding from the river. The lie of the layers, sloping down from west to east, suggests they were part of the talus of a now buried rockshelter ar the far western edge of the excavated area. Several of the later occupation strata (e.g. Layers III, V and VII/IX) were clearly laid down very rapidly, facilitating in situ preservation of bone, features and the spatial patterning of human activities. Combined with clear stratigraphic alternation of occupation and non-occupation levels, 18 radiocarbon determinations make Likoaeng one of southern Africa's most precisely resolved late Holocene hunter- gatherer sequences (Table 1). When calibrated (McCormac et al.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beyond the Drip-Line: A High-Resolution Open-Air Holocene Hunter-Gatherer Sequence from Highland Lesotho
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.