Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
James G. Enloe
First Committee Member
Robert G. Franciscus
Second Committee Member
Matthew E. Hill
Third Committee Member
E. Arthur Bettis III
Fourth Committee Member
Grant S. McCall
Scholars of the Late Pleistocene in Southern Africa have recently sought to develop models explaining long-term variation between Middle Stone Age and Late Stone Age assemblages in terms of variability between “macrolithic” vs. “microlithic” toolmaking systems associated with shifts in hunter-gatherer ecology and land use patterns. While it has often proven extremely difficult to actually test many models, recently developed methods allow us to do so in novel ways. In this dissertation, I use new archaeological data from excavations of two sites in the Namib Desert, as well as new approaches to sourcing lithic artifacts to examine the hypothesis that contrasts between terminal Pleistocene (ca. 15-20 ka BP) and early Holocene (ca. 6-12 ka BP) occupation phases at the two sites represent adaptive responses primarily driven by changes in fluvial regimes and the resource productivity of riparian corridors. Analyzing the lithic assemblage compositions and locating probable source areas for raw materials suggests that terminal Pleistocene groups likely centered land use strategies more toward upland areas east of the study sites and periodically followed broad riparian corridors into the desert itself. Early Holocene groups expanded their ranges and more intensively targeted resources on the open desert plains, dunes, and beaches of the coastal lowlands. My results suggest environmental change may be partially responsible for driving this shift, but new data and methodological tools are needed to address factors like fluctuations in regional population size that may have been driving shifts in the late Pleistocene record of this unique region of Southern Africa.
Hunter-gatherers, Land Use, Late Stone Age, Lithic Sourcing, Middle Stone Age, Namibia
xvii, 257 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 241-257).
Copyright © 2018 Theodore Pearson Marks
Marks, Theodore Pearson. "Bedtime for the Middle Stone Age: land use, strategic foraging, and lithic technology at the end of the Pleistocene in the Namib Desert, Namibia." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2018.
Additional FilesErb-Tanks-Master-Database--tDAR-Version.accdb (3832 kB)
Mirabib Master Artifact Database.xlsx (478 kB)