Temporal perspectives on Still Bay point production at Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, in the context of southern Africa

Marlize Lombard, Anders Högberg, Lyn Wadley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Based on optically stimulated luminescence age estimates it has been argued that the Still Bay represents a sudden, short-lived technological innovation dating to about 72–71 kya. Yet, few sites have the stratigraphic integrity and Still Bay point assemblage size to test this assumption. The Wadley deep sounding of Sibudu Cave provides such an opportunity. Here we use fine-grained analyses consisting of technological attributes and morphometric data to explore the retouched point assemblages of Sibudu over a period of more than ten thousand years spanning the Still Bay. Although we found subtle changes through time, we found no evidence of a technological break in retouched point-production strategies since the Wadley early pre-Still Bay at more than 77 kya through to the final Still Bay/early Howiesons Poort dating to 64.7 ± 2.3 kya. We did, however, uncover a potential point-production hiatus at the site and we present testable hypotheses for this phenomenon. We further contextualise the Sibudu assemblages within southern Africa by directly comparing them with those of Hollow Rock Shelter, Umhlatuzana and Apollo 11. Although our results demonstrate both variation and similarities between the different Still Bay assemblages, we could not replicate a previous suggestion regarding technical disconnection between a north-east/south-west axis on the greater landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-176
Number of pages36
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019


  • Middle Stone Age
  • Sibudu Cave
  • Still Bay Points
  • lithic analysis
  • southern Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archeology (arts and humanities)
  • Archeology


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