Why was silcrete heat-treated in the Middle Stone Age? An early transformative technology in the context of raw material use at Mertenhof Rock Shelter, South Africa

 

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dc.contributor.author Schmidt, Patrick en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Mackay, Alex en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2016-03-08T10:54:49Z
dc.date.available 2016-03-08T10:54:49Z
dc.date.issued 2016 en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Schmidt, P., & Mackay, A. (2016). Why was silcrete heat-treated in the Middle Stone Age? An early transformative technology in the context of raw material use at Mertenhof Rock Shelter, South Africa. PloS one, 11(2), e0149243. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0149243 en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149243 en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11427/17573
dc.description.abstract People heat treated silcrete during the Middle Stone Age (MSA) in southern Africa but the spatial and temporal variability of this practice remains poorly documented. This paucity of data in turn makes it difficult to interrogate the motive factors underlying the application of this technique. In this paper we present data on heat treatment of silcrete through the Howiesons Poort and post-Howiesons Poort of the rock shelter site Mertenhof, located in the Western Cape of South Africa. In contrast to other sites where heat treatment has been documented, distance to rock source at Mertenhof can be reasonably well estimated, and the site is known to contain high proportions of a diversity of fine grained rocks including silcrete, hornfels and chert at various points through the sequence. Our results suggest the prevalence of heat treatment is variable through the sequence but that it is largely unaffected by the relative abundance of silcrete prevalence. Instead there is a strong inverse correlation between frequency of heat treatment in silcrete and prevalence of chert in the assemblage, and a generally positive correlation with the proportion of locally available rock. While it is difficult to separate individual factors we suggest that, at Mertenhof at least, heat treatment may have been used to improve the fracture properties of silcrete at times when other finer grained rocks were less readily available. As such, heat treatment appears to have been a component of the MSA behavioural repertoire that was flexibly deployed in ways sensitive to other elements of technological organisation. en_ZA
dc.language.iso eng en_ZA
dc.publisher Public Library of Science en_ZA
dc.rights This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. en_ZA
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 en_ZA
dc.source PLoS One en_ZA
dc.source.uri http://journals.plos.org/plosone en_ZA
dc.subject.other Heat treatment en_ZA
dc.subject.other Raw materials en_ZA
dc.subject.other Archaeology en_ZA
dc.subject.other Paleoanthropology en_ZA
dc.subject.other Petrology en_ZA
dc.subject.other Stratigraphy en_ZA
dc.subject.other Tempering en_ZA
dc.subject.other Rivers en_ZA
dc.title Why was silcrete heat-treated in the Middle Stone Age? An early transformative technology in the context of raw material use at Mertenhof Rock Shelter, South Africa en_ZA
dc.type Journal Article en_ZA
dc.rights.holder © 2016 Schmidt, Mackay en_ZA
uct.type.publication Research en_ZA
uct.type.resource Article en_ZA
dc.publisher.institution University of Cape Town
dc.publisher.faculty Faculty of Science en_ZA
dc.publisher.department Department of Archaeology en_ZA
uct.type.filetype Text
uct.type.filetype Image
dc.identifier.apacitation Schmidt, P., & Mackay, A. (2016). Why was silcrete heat-treated in the Middle Stone Age? An early transformative technology in the context of raw material use at Mertenhof Rock Shelter, South Africa. <i>PLoS One</i>, http://hdl.handle.net/11427/17573 en_ZA
dc.identifier.chicagocitation Schmidt, Patrick, and Alex Mackay "Why was silcrete heat-treated in the Middle Stone Age? An early transformative technology in the context of raw material use at Mertenhof Rock Shelter, South Africa." <i>PLoS One</i> (2016) http://hdl.handle.net/11427/17573 en_ZA
dc.identifier.vancouvercitation Schmidt P, Mackay A. Why was silcrete heat-treated in the Middle Stone Age? An early transformative technology in the context of raw material use at Mertenhof Rock Shelter, South Africa. PLoS One. 2016; http://hdl.handle.net/11427/17573. en_ZA
dc.identifier.ris TY - Journal Article AU - Schmidt, Patrick AU - Mackay, Alex AB - People heat treated silcrete during the Middle Stone Age (MSA) in southern Africa but the spatial and temporal variability of this practice remains poorly documented. This paucity of data in turn makes it difficult to interrogate the motive factors underlying the application of this technique. In this paper we present data on heat treatment of silcrete through the Howiesons Poort and post-Howiesons Poort of the rock shelter site Mertenhof, located in the Western Cape of South Africa. In contrast to other sites where heat treatment has been documented, distance to rock source at Mertenhof can be reasonably well estimated, and the site is known to contain high proportions of a diversity of fine grained rocks including silcrete, hornfels and chert at various points through the sequence. Our results suggest the prevalence of heat treatment is variable through the sequence but that it is largely unaffected by the relative abundance of silcrete prevalence. Instead there is a strong inverse correlation between frequency of heat treatment in silcrete and prevalence of chert in the assemblage, and a generally positive correlation with the proportion of locally available rock. While it is difficult to separate individual factors we suggest that, at Mertenhof at least, heat treatment may have been used to improve the fracture properties of silcrete at times when other finer grained rocks were less readily available. As such, heat treatment appears to have been a component of the MSA behavioural repertoire that was flexibly deployed in ways sensitive to other elements of technological organisation. DA - 2016 DB - OpenUCT DO - 10.1371/journal.pone.0149243 DP - University of Cape Town J1 - PLoS One LK - https://open.uct.ac.za PB - University of Cape Town PY - 2016 T1 - Why was silcrete heat-treated in the Middle Stone Age? An early transformative technology in the context of raw material use at Mertenhof Rock Shelter, South Africa TI - Why was silcrete heat-treated in the Middle Stone Age? An early transformative technology in the context of raw material use at Mertenhof Rock Shelter, South Africa UR - http://hdl.handle.net/11427/17573 ER - en_ZA


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This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.