Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Enloe, James G.

First Committee Member

Franciscus, Robert G.

Second Committee Member

Hill, Matthew E.

Third Committee Member

Bettis, E. Arthur, III

Fourth Committee Member

McCall, Grant S.


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

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