The foodplant fitness landscape of Hollow Rock Shelter, Western Cape, South Africa

Marlize Lombard, Anders Högberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Studying Stone Age foraging behaviours in terms of plant foods is difficult because of preservation, sampling and identification biases. Current foodplant populations, knowledge about their use in recent times, and how they are distributed across the landscape, provide valuable middle-range proxies from which work on archaeological landscapes and material can benefit. With this contribution we provide foodplant lists for three different foraging ranges (radii of ∼ 12.5 km, ∼35 km, and ∼ 70 km) around Hollow Rock Shelter. By comparing data for each of the foraging ranges directly, we discuss proportional increases in foodplant resources when moving further away from the site. We demonstrate that the ∼ 35 km foraging range is the most efficient. This implies that people staying at the site (for shorter or longer periods) may have regularly employed a strategy of temporary camping for a night or two away from the site to forage especially preservable foods that could be brought to the site. Our data highlight potential plant-food staples, and show that under-surface storage organs (USOs) of plants, followed by fruit and leaves are the most abundant edible plant parts available on the Hollow Rock Shelter landscape within all three of the foraging ranges, and that most of these could be eaten raw.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103997
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Cederberg Stone Age landscape
  • Cooking
  • Edible plant parts
  • Foraging range
  • Subsistence behaviour
  • USOs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archeology (arts and humanities)
  • Archeology


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