Skip to main content
×
×
Home

An engraved bone fragment from c. 70,000-year-old Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa: implications for the origin of symbolism and language

  • Francesco D'Errico (a1), Christopher Henshilwood (a2) and Peter Nilssen (a3)
Extract

Examination of marks on a bone from Blombos Cave reveals that they were intentionally engraved and there is evidence of bone working techniques at the site. Engraved designs have also been identified on pieces of ochre from Blombos Cave, suggesting such engraving was a symbolic act with symbolic meaning.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Aiello, L. 1998. The foundation of human language, in Jablonski & Aiello (ed.): 2134.
Barham, L.S. 1998. Possible early pigment use in south-central Africa, Current Anthropology 39: 70310.
Beherensmeyer, A.K., Gordon, K.D. & Yanagi, G.T.. 1986. Trampling as a cause of bone surface damage and pseudocutmarks, Nature 319: 76871.
Chase, P.G. & Dibble, H.L.. 1987. Middle Paleolithic symbolism: a review of current evidence and interpretations, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 6: 26396.
D’Errico, F. 1995. New model and its implications for the origin of writing: La Marche antler revisited, Cambridge Archaeological Journal 5(1): 346.
D’Errico, F. & Villa, P.. 1997. Holes and grooves. The contribution of microscopy and taphonomy to the problem of art origins, Journal of Human Evolution 33: 131.
D’Errico, F., ZilhäO, J., Baffler, D., Julien, M. & Pelegrin, J.. 1998. Neanderthal acculturation in Western Europe? A critical review of the evidence and its interpretation, Current Anthropology 39: 144.
Deacon, T. 1997. The symbolic species: The co-evolution of language and the human brain. London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press.
Fisher, J.W. 1995. Bone surface modifications in zooarchaeology, Journal of Archeological Method and Theory 2(1): 767.
Grine, F.E., Henshilwood, C.S., & Sealy, J.C.. 2000. Human remains from Biombos Cave, South Africa (1997–1998 excavations), Journal of Human Evolution 38: 75565.
Henshilwood, C., D’Errico, F., Marean, C., Milo, R. & Yates, R.. Submitted. An early hone tool industry from the Middle Stone Age, Biombos Cave, South Africa: implications for the origins of modern human behaviour, symbolism and language.
Henshilwood, C. & Sealy, J.. 1997. Bone artefacts from the Middle Stone Age at Biombos Cave, southern Cape, South Africa, Current Anthropology 38(5): 89095.
Henshilwood, C.S., Sealy, J., Yates, R., Cruz-Uribe, K., Goldberg, P., Grine, F.E., Klein, R.G., Poggenpoel, C., Nlekerk, K. van & Watts, I.. In press. Biombos Cave, southern Cape, South Africa: Preliminary report on the 1992–1999 excavations of the Middle Stone Age levels, Journal of Archaeological Science.
Jablonski, N.G. & Aiello, L.C. (Ed.). 1998. The origin and diversification of language. San Francisco (CA): Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences.
Klein, R.G. 2000. Archaeology and the evolution of human behavior, Evolutionary Anthropology 9 (1): 1736.
Miller, G.H., Beaumont, P.B., Deacon, H.J., Brooks, A.S., Hare, RE. & Jull, A.J.T.. 1999. Earliest modern humans in southern Africa dated by isoleucine epimerization in ostrich eggshell, Quaternary Science Reviews 18: 153748.
Mellars, P. 1998. Neanderthals, Modern Humans and the archaeological evidence for language, in Jablonski & Aiello (ed.): 89115.
Mcbrearty, S. & Brooks, A.S.. 2000. The revolution that wasn’t: a new interpretation of the origin of modern human behavior, Journal of Human Evolution 39: 453563.
Nilssen, P.J. 2000. An actualistic butchery study in South Africa and its implications for reconstructing hominid strategies of carcass acquisition and butchery in the Upper Pleistocene and Plio-Pleistocene. Unpublished Ph.D thesis, University of Cape Town.
Vogel, J.C. In press. Radiometric dates for the Middle Stone Age in South Africa, in Tobias, P.V.T., Raath, M. A., Moggi-Cecchi, J. & Doyle, G.A. (ed.), Humanity — from African naissance to coming millennia.
Watts, I. 1999. The origin of symbolic culture, in Dunbar, R., Knight, C. & Power, C. (ed.), The evolution of culture: 11346. Edinburgh: Rutgers University Press.
Woodborne, S. & Jacobs, Z., In preparation. Dating the Stone Age occupation of Biombos Cave, Journal of Archaeological Science.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score