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date: 28 September 2023

The Middle Stone Age of South Africalocked

The Middle Stone Age of South Africalocked

  • Gregor D. Bader, Gregor D. BaderUniversity of Tübingen
  • Viola C. SchmidViola C. SchmidUniversity of Tübingen
  •  and Andrew W. KandelAndrew W. KandelUniversity of Tübingen


The African Middle Stone Age (MSA) is the period in human history spanning roughly from 300,000 until 30,000 years ago. Here, we focus on the archaeological record of South Africa, with occasional glimpses at neighboring countries (Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia). During this time, modern humans evolved in Africa and brought forth a number of key innovations, including art and symbolism, personal ornaments, burial practices, and advanced methods of tool production using different raw materials such as stone, wood, or bone. The MSA is subdivided into several substages based on regional chrono-cultural differences, such as MSA II or Mossel Bay, Still Bay, Howiesons Poort, Sibudan, and the final MSA. Previous research has tended to concentrate on just two of those stages, namely, the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort, as they were considered to be pinnacles of innovation. In the past years, however, assemblages from other periods have gained increasing attention. Some of the major research questions include the nature and timing of both the onset and end of the MSA. The focus on diachronic cultural dynamics not only related to the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort techno-complexes and the increasing awareness of regional diversification during different phases, especially during Marine Isotope Stage 3 (57,000–29,000 years ago), but also to the inherent problems arising from them.


  • Archaeology

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