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Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern among Holocene HunterGatherers in Southernmost Africa Author(s): Judith Sealy Source: Current

Anthropology, Vol. 47, No. 4 (August 2006), pp. 569-595 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Stable URL: . Accessed: 21/03/2011 15:30
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Current Anthropology Volume 47, Number 4, August 2006


Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern among Holocene Hunter-Gatherers in Southernmost Africa
by Judith Sealy
Integration of new biological information (stable isotope analyses of archaeological human skeletons) with the archaeological sequence of southernmost Africa and with wider sociocultural studies of hunters and gatherers shows that between 4,500 and 2,000 BP coastal hunter-gatherers buried on the Robberg Peninsula and adjacent Plettenberg Bay ate large quantities of high-trophic-level marine protein. This contrasts with more mixed diets reected in skeletons from Matjes River Rock Shelter, only 14 km along the shore. Assuming that the burials represent the populations that inhabited the sites, such clear economic separation could have come about only if these were two separate groups of people who lived in clearly demarcated, mutually exclusive territories. Such a settlement pattern directly contradicts ethnographic studies of southern African hunter-gatherers, all derived from inland areas. Later Stone Age material culture, including the assemblages from these sites, shows many similarities to that of twentieth-century Kalahari foragers, but settlement pattern and social organization were sometimes very different.

Reconstructions of archaeological hunting and gathering societies in southern Africa have, not surprisingly, drawn heavily on the rich ethnographies of foragers in the sub-continent. The issue of the applicability of ethnography to the study of prehistoric societies is universal among archaeologists. The problem is particularly acute in the study of hunter-gatherers, because although recent (ethnohistoric) accounts of hunting and gathering people are undoubtedly valuable as sources of insight into this way of life, our documentary record is partial and skewed. It has long been recognized that recent huntergatherer communities are a particular sub-set of those that existed before the advent of farming and that they may have been organized in different ways (Deetz 1968; Hodder 1986; Schrire 1984; Wobst 1978; Woodburn 1980). It is, however, much easier to recognize similarities between ancient and modern societies than it is to detect differences. By combining multiple lines of evidence, we may hope to achieve more nuanced reconstructions of past societies. Among hunter-gatherers, peoples relationship to the land is a central aspect of life. There is a long history of anthropological interest in these relationships, including access to land, how this is shared with others, its role in establishing
Judith Sealy is Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology of the University of Cape Town (Private Bag, Rondebosch, Cape Town 17701, South Africa []). This paper was submitted 23 VI 05 and accepted 6 XII 05.

identity, kinship, and much more. In the wake of the Man the Hunter conference, hunter-gatherers came to be seen as generalized foragers in a picture informed, to a considerable extent, by studies of the Kalahari San. Lee and DeVore (1968) listed ve features of generalized foragers: egalitarianism, low population density, lack of territoriality, minimal food storage, and constantly shifting band composition. This picture has shaped the study of hunters and gatherers worldwide, particularly in southern Africa, where the origins of many items of twentieth-century Kalahari San material culture can be traced in archaeological sites: ostrich-eggshell beads and water containers, digging sticks, and light-draw bows, probably with poisoned arrows, among others. Researchers have also inferred shared belief systems, with the result that nineteenthand twentieth-century San people from the Kalahari and adjacent areas have provided the key to understanding Later Stone Age rock paintings in a tradition several thousands of years old. These links are not at issue. It is, however, unclear to what extent features such as land use, settlement patterns, and exchange systems (for example) may have varied across space and through time. This paper is an attempt to explore some of these issues in a manner informed but not constrained by the rich literature on hunters and gatherers, particularly that from southern Africa. Below, I reconstruct the likely settlement pattern and social organization of Late Holocene hunter-gatherers along the coast of southernmost Africa on the basis of differences in

2006 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved 0011-3204/2006/4704-0004$10.00


Current Anthropology Volume 47, Number 4, August 2006

bone chemistry in archaeological human skeletons. Land use and band and individual mobility are major themes in huntergatherer anthropology. Most researchers agree that mobility depended upon the abundance and distribution of resources in the environment (Binford 2001; Donald and Mitchell 1994; Hitchcock 1982; Kelly 1983). Of course, this is not the whole story: there are social as well as economic dimensions to mobility and settlement. Nevertheless, foragers in areas where resources are sparsely distributed tended to be very mobile: Kalahari San moved 613 times per year over distances of up to 350 miles, in contrast to communities in North Pacic coastal areas, which moved (on average) 2.3 times per year over a mean distance of 30 miles (Binford 2001, table 8.04 [Kalahari gures exclude the Nharo]).1 These contrasting examples t well with Robert Kellys view of residential mobility as a way to position consumers relative to the locations of food resources (1983, 294). Rich resources alone did not necessarily produce settled communities, however; many researchers argue that this required constraints on mobility due to factors such as increasing population density (Binford 1968; Cohen 1977; Flannery 1973; Hitchcock 1982; Keeley 1988; Kelly 1992, 1995; Price and Brown 1985). Where coastal populations were concerned, the richness and reliability of marine foods meant that there was less need to be mobile (Bailey and Milner 2002; Bailey and Parkington 1988; Binford 1968; Cohen 1977). Population densities were higher among coastal hunter-gatherers than in inland communities and often accompanied by greater territoriality, competition for resources, and conict (Yesner 1980). Jordan and Shennan (2003) describe the remarkable situation in northern North America at the time of European contact, where between 64 and 80 distinct languages were spoken in California alone, compared with only 18 the Great Basin and Plateau. Concentrated, highly productive, and reliable resources along the coast led to more settled communities with localized ownership of resources. We do not have comparable data for South Africa, because by the time that indigenous languages rst began to be documented coastal hunter-gatherers had often long since been displaced by food producers. Archaeological indicators of mobility/sedentism are aften equivocal, and even in well-studied areas such as the California coast it has proved difcult to establish just how mobile or otherwise archaeological communities were (Jones 2002). For the Northwest Coast of North America, one research goal is to document the origins of sedentary, complex huntergatherer lifestyles, and the appearance of large shell middens has often been taken as an indication of the start of semi- to fully sedentary coastal settlement (Ames 1994). In contrast, in South Africa, archaeologists have expected that huntergatherers with clear commonalities with Kalahari foragers would be mobile, and coastal shell middens have usually been
1. Kalahari data for seven groups, excluding the Nharo. Figures for the North Pacic are means of data for 29 groups.

seen as one component of a more varied occupation pattern (H. Deacon 1969, 1970; Inskeep 1987; Parkington 1972, 1976, 2001; Parkington et al. 1988). More recent archaeological work has explored the possibility that, at least in the second half of the Holocene, some communities became more settled (Binneman 1995; Hall 1990; Jerardino Wiesenborn 1996; Mazel 1989a, 1989b). Ambrose and Lorenz (1990) considered the likely archaeological expression of different types of social and territorial organization for both Holocene and Pleistocene hunter-gatherers in southern Africa. Interpreting the Southern African Later Stone Age Artefact-making traditions have been interpreted in different ways over the past few decades. In the 1960s and 1970s, stone tools were often considered in relation to the ecological settings in which people found themselves, and possible correlations were sought between artefact styles and subsistence behaviours. In the past couple of decades the tendency has been to think of stone tools also as markers of social networks. The Wilton stone-artefact-making tradition (J. Deacon 1972; Goodwin and van Riet Lowe 1929) was widespread in South Africa during the mid-Holocene, apart from the interior basin of the country (J. Deacon 1974). The Wilton is not a homogeneous entity (cf. Parkington 1980; changes over time indicated in table 1), but these assemblages are linked in that they all have highly standardized microlithic stone artefacts, incorporating a range of retouched formal tools. This standardization has been taken to indicate links between midHolocene populations over large areas of the landscape, at least to the extent that people subscribed to shared norms of artefact manufacture. These assemblages are very different from those found in earlier and later sites. Archaeologists working in southern Africa have tried to draw on anthropological studies among the Kalahari San to understand Later Stone Age societies. Since relatively few of these studies have focused on material culture, those few have tended to be especially inuential, despite the variation documented among different San groups in different areas (Barnard 1992). Thus Lyn Wadley has suggested that Wilton segments (crescent-shaped backed stone microliths) and ostrich-eggshell beads might have been part of xaro-type2 exchange networks in the Later Stone Age similar to those documented by Polly Wiessner among the Juhoansi (Wiessner 1983, 1994, 1997). Wadley (1987, 1989) has sought to identify aggregation- and dispersal-phase camps among Later Stone Age sites in the Magaliesberg. Xaro has also been invoked as a possible explanation for rich assemblages of grave goods with infant burials in the Eastern Cape (Hall and Binneman 1987). In the Thukela River Basin of KwaZulu/Natal, Aron
2. The spelling xaro is used here in conformity with the standard orthography in Patrick Dickenss (1994) English-Ju/hoan, Ju/hoan-English Dictionary. Older articles on the subject often use the spelling hxaro.

Sealy Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern in Holocene South Africa


Table 1. The Holocene Sequence at Nelson Bay Cave and Correlation with Matjes River Rock Shelter
Nelson Bay Cave Date BP 2,0003,300 Stone Artefacts Post-Wilton: Mostly quartzite, large crude pieces, few retouched tools (e.g., scrapers), utilized pieces and pie `ces esquille es Wilton: Fine-grained raw materials (esp. chalcedony), microlithic artefacts (esp. small [! 20 mm] scrapers); quartz cores (before 4,500 BP), backed tools (esp. segments) (before 5,300 BP) Albany: Mostly quartzite, most common formal tool large (1 20 mm) scrapers Other Artefacts New types of shell pendants and bone artefacts common, pottery in last 2,000 years Food Remains Marine foods (esp. yearling and secondyear sh, seals) common; no information on shellsh Bovid remains mostly those of small browsers; shellsh, sh, and marine mammals consumed regularly, shellsh more so after 4,500 BP Range of species, both grazing and browsing bovids; marine foods after ca. 12,00011,000 BP as post-glacial sea level rose Matjes River Rock Shelter Layers A, B


Perforated Donax shells before 4,500 BP

Layer C


Bone artefacts, others?

Layer D

Note: Dates are for Nelson Bay; at Matjes River the Layer D/C (Albany/Wilton) transition has been securely dated to just over 7,000 BP (Do ckel 1998), but dates of the interfaces between the upper layers are uncertain and are suggested here by analogy with Nelson Bay.

Mazel (1989a, 1989b) used the types of backed artefacts, together with densities of non-lithic artefacts and ochre, to try to map social regions and study their development through time. Working along the south-eastern coast, Johan Binneman has focused on the distribution of different stone artefactmaking traditions, interpreted as symbolic markers of identity (1995, iv). In the Fish River Basin of the Eastern Cape, Simon Hall (1990) integrated studies of tool type, raw-material usage, food remains, and burials to develop a new explanation for changes in hunter-gatherer societies in the second half of the Holocene. Hall has shown that, from about 4,300 BP, people began to rely more on riverine resources such as freshwater mussels, sh, and crabs and to construct storage pits. He argued that this would have reduced the risk of seasonal food shortages and facilitated an increasingly sedentary settlement pattern, especially in the context of a growing population. Reduced mobility led to closer identication of people with the land, expressed through choice of raw material for stone artefacts and through placement of burials. Jerardino Wiesenborn (1996) has explored similar themes on the west coast. Some of this work has depended on direct analogies between Kalahari and Later Stone Age societies (e.g, archaeologists use of Wiessners work on xaro exchanges among the Juhoansi). Others have pointed to differences in the South African Later Stone Age record such as the presence of storage pits in hunter-gatherer contexts after about 4,000 BP (Deacon

and Brooker 1976; Deacon, Deacon, and Brooker 1976; Hall 1990). Storing resources on a regular basis is one of the characteristics of delayed-return strategies in which effort was invested for future returns (Woodburn 1980, 1982), thus raising issues of ownership and possible unequal access to resources. This is at odds with what we know of recent southern African hunter-gatherers. Nevertheless, the Kalahari ethnographies continue to provide the framework for most interpretations of Later Stone Age (and some Middle Stone Age) archaeology, particularly in studies of social relations and land use patterns. In a discussion of these questions, a recent paper explicitly took the approach of transposing the set of generalised Kalahari expectations to the western Cape (Parkington 2001, 5). The implications of this are far-reaching: it has been argued, for instance, that the immediate-return economic strategies and the egalitarianism characteristic of Kalahari foragers would have impeded the adoption of herding in prehistory, since keeping domesticated animals involved investment for future return and unequal distribution of resources. If, however, South African hunter-gatherers were already practising delayed-return strategies, the shift to herding would have required less of a cultural leap. In this case, spread of this new way of life by diffusion (rather than migration) would have been easier (Sadr 2004). Below I address questions of prehistoric land use from an entirely different perspective, drawing on a study of diet and


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economy across the Later Stone Age landscape through stable isotope analysis of human skeletons. Southernmost Africa and the Nelson Bay Cave Sequence The southern coast of South Africa preserves an exceptionally rich archaeological record, with the past 10,000 years being particularly well represented. The coastal forelands are attractive for human settlement. Temperatures are mild, with a mean annual temperature of about 16C. Rainfall averages around 800 mm per annum and occurs year-round (Schulze 1965, table 45, gs. 136 and 138). There is relatively little seasonal uctuation in climate. The coastal plain covers only a limited area, however, and as one moves away from the coast the altitude rises steeply to the Cape Fold Belt mountains. Inland of this mountain chain lies the Karoo, the dry interior basin of South Africa (g. 1). There are thousands of archaeological sites along the southern coast and inland as far as the Fold Belt mountains, including deep stratied deposits in caves, open middens, both large and small, rock painting sites, and more. The sequence is best known from a few large cave sites, and one of these, Nelson Bay Cave, on the Robberg Peninsula near Plettenberg Bay, has an especially

complete and well-documented sequence. Nelson Bay Cave was systematically excavated by Ray Inskeep during four seasons from 1964 to 1979 and by Richard Klein in 1970 and 1971. The ndings have been reported in several papers and monographs (J. Deacon 1984; Inskeep 1987; Klein 1972a, 1972b). The Nelson Bay sequence is usually described in terms of major culture/stratigraphic periods identied on the basis of changes in stone artefacts (table 1). Briey, the early Holocene layers have yielded assemblages ascribed to the Albany Industry, part of the more widespread Oakhurst Industrial Complex. About 7,000 radiocarbon years ago, there was a marked shift to microlithic artefact assemblages of the Wilton Industrial Complex. Microlithic mid-Holocene assemblages are widespread in southern Africa (see below). At 3,300 BP, there was a very substantial change in the stone tool assemblage at Nelson Bay Cave, as well as in nonlithic artefacts and some food remains. Fish remains and seal bone (particularly from young seals) became much more common, indicating a greater focus on marine foods. Terrestrial food remains began to include bones of species such as blue duiker, indicating the development of more densely

Figure 1. Places mentioned in the text. The horizontally hatched area indicates the modern town of Plettenberg Bay.

Sealy Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern in Holocene South Africa


forested environments. Informal macrolithic post-Wilton assemblages similar to those found at Nelson Bay have also been reported from the past few millennia at other coastal sites (Binneman 1995; Sampson 1974; Van Noten 1974). The overall impression is that we are seeing a far-reaching shift in economy and material culture, one that is particularly well documented and securely dated at Nelson Bay Cave but also occurred at other sites along the Cape coast. About 2,000 (radiocarbon) years ago, pottery and domesticated animals, in the form of sheep, appeared along the Cape coast (Henshilwood 1996; Sealy and Yates 1994; Schweitzer 1979; Vogel, Plug, and Webley 1997; Webley 2001). This marks the beginning of food production in this region and must have considerably disrupted earlier hunter-gatherer lifeways. Nelson Bay Cave does not, however, preserve a good sequence of deposits from the last 2,000 years and has yielded little pottery and few sheep bones (Inskeep 1987). Excavations at other sites along the southern coast have yielded very comparable terminal Pleistocene and Holocene sequences or parts thereof (Binneman 1995; J. Deacon 1972, 1984; H. J. Deacon 1976; Goodwin 1938; Hall 1990; Louw 1960; Schweitzer and Wilson 1982), conrming that this general pattern extends across the southern part of South Africa. Other Sites at Robberg/Plettenberg Bay We have little archaeological information from the area now covered by the town of Plettenberg Bay. Urban development has destroyed open-air shell middens and other archaeological remains. Isolated artefacts have been donated to museums, as have a number of human skeletons. There is more information from the Robberg Peninsula, where Nelson Bay Cave is one of several dozen archaeological sites. Rudner and Rudner (1973) summarized much of the available information on early-twentieth-century collections from these sites, many of which involved uncontrolled digging and disturbance of archaeological deposits. These collections focused on the acquisition of human skeletons and on highly decorated objects such as painted stones and elaborate bone artefacts. Most of this material is out of context and undated, and therefore it is difcult to use it to extend our picture of life in the Robberg/ Plettenberg Bay area beyond that based on Nelson Bay Cave. Walking around the peninsula today, however, one sees large quantities of post-Wilton material. A 2-m-deep test trench dug in Hoffmans Cave, about 300 m east of Nelson Bay Cave, yielded two radiocarbon dates on shell: 3,190 110 BP (UW204) from the top of the midden and 3,770 100 BP (UW205) from the bottom (Fairhall, Young, and Erickson 1976). Uncalibrated dates on shell are typically about 400 years older than those on charcoal, so the older of these two determinations is very close to the date of 3,300 BP on charcoal for the Wilton/post-Wilton transition at Nelson Bay Cave. At Cave D, near the tip of the Robberg Peninsula, shells associated with a burial were dated to 1,925 33 BP (Pta-014) (Rudner and Rudner 1973; Vogel and Marais 1971). Of

course, more recent occupation is likely to be more visible than older remains, but it is clear that there is a great deal of evidence, from multiple sites, of occupation in the second half of the Holocene. Matjes River Rock Shelter Matjes River Rock Shelter is a rocky overhang on the western side of the mouth of the Matjes River, which ows out into the Indian Ocean about 14 km east of Robberg. The shelter is a long, east-facing sandstone wall which would have afforded some shelter and was much used as a camp-site during the past 10,000 years. This occupation has left one of the largest shell middens in southern Africa, with deposits up to 10 m deep extending over an arc roughly 50 m long by 16 m wide in the centre (Louw 1960). Most of the archaeological remains consist of shells, the debris from many meals of shellsh collected on the rocks and along the beach below the site. In addition, there are animal bones, stone artefacts, and items manufactured out of ostrich eggshell, marine shell, ivory, and other materials. As at other sites along the South African coast, there are few plant remains. Excavations at Matjes River Rock Shelter were initiated by Dreyer in the 1920s and continued by Hoffman and Meiring in the 1950s (Dreyer 1933; Hoffman 1958; Louw 1960). None of these men were trained archaeologists, and excavation methods were crude. We have little detailed contextual information on the nds, and a good deal of material, including most of the food waste, was discarded. In 1994, Hilary Deacon and Willemien Do ckel, of the University of Stellenbosch, carried out limited further excavations at the site to clarify questions of stratigraphy and dating (Do ckel 1998). The bulk of the sample from Matjes River, however, comes from excavations in the rst half of the twentieth century. This material was described by Louw (1960). Although his report is problematic in many ways (Inskeep 1961; Singer 1961), it provides a rough guide to the sequence. Louw divided the deposits into four major stratigraphic layers: from top to bottom, A, B, C, and D. The sequence is similar to that at Nelson Bay Cave. Layer A was a shallow layer from which relatively little material was recovered, making it difcult to characterize. It did, however, yield a few potsherds, which means that at least part of Layer A dates to within the last 2,000 years. The large quantity of archaeological deposits at Matjes River and the wealth of nds recovered attest to intensive occupation at the site over a long period. Dreyers excavations centred on a large trench dug through the deposits at the back of the shelter to reveal the back wall. In Later Stone Age cave sites, graves are often located in this area, and we have the remains of about 120 individuals from Matjes River Rock Shelter, many of them infants or children (Morris 1992; my own observations). There are probably more skeletons in the remaining unexcavated deposits. This is the largest number of individuals recovered from a Stone Age site in southern Africa. Nearly all the skeletons are in-


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complete because of both disturbance of graves by subsequent interments in prehistory and careless excavation and curation. Even so, these skeletons preserve a wealth of information about many aspects of life in the Later Stone Age (Clayton, Sealy, and Pfeiffer 2006; Dewar and Pfeiffer 2004; Pfeiffer and Sealy 2006; Stock and Pfeiffer 2004). Matjes River Rock Shelter is the best-known site in the area, but there are many more Later Stone Age sites nearby. Wilson (1988) reported on Forest Hall shelter, about 800 m east of Matjes River, and there are other sites as one continues eastward along the Tsitsikamma coastline. Some were investigated in the rst half of the twentieth century (FitzSimons 1923, 1926; Schauder 1963), but no reports were published and these sites have received less attention from archaeologists in recent years. Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Analysis Stable isotope measurements of human skeletons are now widely used in archaeology to investigate ancient diets and hence to try to infer aspects of economy, social organization, or other facets of life in the past (Katzenberg and Harrison 1997; Schoeninger and Moore 1992). Isotope techniques have been particularly successful in the investigation of the importance of marine compared with terrestrial foods, since in most parts of the world these have clearly distinguishable stable carbon and/or nitrogen isotope ratios (Richards, Price, and Koch 2003; Richards, Schulting, and Hedges 2003; Schoeninger, DeNiro, and Tauber 1983; Sealy and van der Merwe 1986, 1988; Tauber 1981; Walker and DeNiro 1986; Yesner 1988). The approach relies upon variations in the ratio of naturally occurring stable (non-radioactive) isotopes of carbon (13 C/12 C) and nitrogen (15 N/14 N). The smaller, lighter isotope (12 C or 14 N) tends to react more rapidly than the heavier one (13 C or 15 N) in the chemical reactions that make up the global carbon and nitrogen cycles. This leads to patterned variation in the abundance of 13 C compared with 12 C and 15 N compared with 14 N that we can use as natural tracers (for a general summary of this topic, see Hoefs 1997). In the case of carbon, the 13 C/12 C ratio of a given material is expressed relative to that of Peedee Belemnite (PDB) marine limestone, the generally accepted standard material. Most living organisms contain less 13 C than PDB, which means that their d13 C values are negative (d13 Csample p {[13 C/12 Cstd 13 C/12 Csample] 1} # 1,000 parts per thousand, or per mil, abbreviated as ). The greatest shifts in 13 C/12 C occur during photosynthesis, when plants preferentially x 12 CO2 rather than 13 CO2 out of atmospheric carbon dioxide because molecules containing the smaller, lighter 12 C atom diffuse more easily into the photosynthetic tissues of plants and because enzymes involved in photosynthesis preferentially assimilate 12 C at the expense of 13 C. The d13 C value of atmospheric CO2 is at present about 8 . Most plants photosynthesize by means of the Calvin-Benson or C 3 pathway, which discriminates strongly against 13 C , with the result that the average

d13 C value of C 3 plants is around 27, with a range from about 22 to 34 (OLeary 1995). Some species, mostly tropical grasses, use the Hatch-Slack or C4 pathway, in which discrimination is less pronounced; d13 C values of C4 plants average 13, with a range from about 8 to 16. Contemporary atmospheric d13 C values have become more negative since the Industrial Revolution because of the combustion of fossil fuels derived from C 3 plants; the current value is around 8, but for most of the Holocene it has been closer to 6.5 (Indermu hle et al. 1999). Thus we should add 1.5 to d13 C measurements of modern organisms to approximate pre-industrial values. In animals, carbon and nitrogen are derived from food. Animals that eat C 3 plants have bone collagen (the major constituent of bone protein) d13 C values about 5 more positive than their food; therefore the values for C 3-consumers are typically -20 or 21 (for archaeological samples) and for C4-consumers around 6. Mixtures of C 3 and C4 foods lead to intermediate values. In the ocean, photosynthesis is carried out by plankton and macroalgae, which may use the C3 and/or the C4 photosynthetic pathway. Terrestrial vegetation in the southern Cape is a mosaic of forest, bush, and grassland in which trees and bushes are C 3 and grasses include both C 3 and C4 species (Vogel, Fuls, and Ellis 1978). Foods eaten by prehistoric humans were, however, predominantly C 3 . Plant foods consisted mainly of fruits and berries, which are all C 3 , and the starchy underground storage organs of C 3 plants. There is no evidence that people ate grasses. C4 grasses are likely to have contributed to human diets principally via the meat of grazing animals such as alcelaphine antelope and buffalo. Grazers were, however, not common in the excavated faunal assemblage from Nelson Bay Cave, reecting the limited extent of grassland in the surrounding environment (Inskeep 1987; Klein 1972a; 1972b). Thus the overall character of the terrestrial human diet was C 3, with a minor C4 contribution. The d13 C of seafood would have varied, depending on the items chosen, with lterfeeding shellsh such as mussels having values around 16 and seal meat about 12 (Muller 2002; Sealy and van der Merwe 1986). In previous isotopic work along the South African coast, the average d13 C value for a mixed marine-based diet has been estimated at around 16. In the case of nitrogen, 15 N/14 N of a given material is expressed relative to air. Samples containing more 15 N than air have positive d15 N values (calculated in the same way as d13 C values above) and those containing less have negative values. Atmospheric nitrogen gas (N2 ) is xed into ammonium, nitrates, and nitrites by nitrogen-xing organisms. The rst two are taken up by plants and incorporated into plant proteins and may subsequently be converted by animals into animal proteins. After an organism dies, its nitrogen-containing compounds may be broken down into nitrogen gas by microorganisms (denitrication) and returned to the atmosphere. There is fractionation (i.e., a shift in the 15N/ 14 N ratio) associated with each of these steps. Because of the

Sealy Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern in Holocene South Africa


differential distribution of nitrication and denitrication on land and in the sea, terrestrial d15 N values tend, on average, to be lower than those in the oceans, particularly for animals (consumers high in the food chain). Consumers have d15 N values 34 more positive than the food that they eat, and top carnivores have the most positive values of all (Minagawa and Wada 1984; Schoeninger and De Niro 1984; Schoeninger, De Niro, and Tauber 1983). Nitrogen in animal or human diets comes from protein, and therefore the d15 N value of consumers tissue tells us about the nitrogen isotopic composition of the protein component of their diets. The mean d15 N value for terrestrial herbivores from Nelson Bay Cave between 500 and 9,000 BP is 4.7 1.0 (n p 25) (g. 2). People who ate entirely terrestrial diets would be expected, therefore, to have d15 N values in their bone collagen of approximately 8934 more enriched than their (protein) food. Shellsh, especially lter-feeders such as mussels, which are low in the marine food chain, have d15 N values of ca. 510. The d15 N values of modern brown mussels (Perna perna) collected from the Robberg Peninsula averaged 7.7 0.8 (n p 19), statistically indistinguishable from the value of 7.4 0.5 (n p 12) for mussels collected near Matjes River Rock Shelter (Muller 2002). Animals higher in the food chain have more positive d15 N values (for measurements of animals from the ocean at Cape Town, see Sealy et al. 1987). Predators such as seals yield signicantly more positive values: mean d15 N for a sample of archaeological seal bones from Nelson Bay Cave was 16.8 1.7 (n p 9) (Muller 2002). Understanding the dietary origins of carbon (and hence d13 C) in body tissues is more complicated than for nitrogen, since dietary proteins, carbohydrates, and fats all contain carbon, which may contribute to tissue synthesis in the consumer. We are concerned here with interpreting d13 C in bone collagen, which is a protein tissue, so we need to consider the pathways by which carbon is incorporated into proteins in the consumers body. We know that essential amino acids have to be incorporated in their entirety from the diet, and therefore the carbon atoms in those molecules must derive from dietary protein. About 30% of the carbon atoms in collagen are in essential amino acids. The remainder are in non-essential amino acids that may also derive from dietary protein, or the carbon skeletons may be partly or wholly synthesized in the body from carbohydrates or, less commonly, lipids (Howland et al. 2003). We do not yet fully understand what controls these pathways, and they probably depend on the nutritional and energetic state of the individual, in females whether they are pregnant or lactating, and other factors. It may well be the case that, in individuals eating high-protein diets (such as the coastal hunter-gatherers we are concerned with here), carbon in collagen comes mostly from dietary protein. We should bear in mind, however, that d13 C and d15 N values of bone collagen may track somewhat different components of the diet. Bone (including bone collagen) grows most quickly during

early life, as the skeleton grows and matures. In adults, bone is continually resorbed and re-formed, with attendant collagen replacement. Because this process occurs at different rates in different parts of the skeleton and slows with age, it is difcult to know exactly how long a period a particular tissue sample represents. Adult bone collagen has, however, been deposited over at least a decade and probably more (Libby et al. 1964; Stenhouse and Baxter 1976). This means that the d13 C and d15 N values provide a long-term average of diet over many years. Dietary reconstructions based on stable isotope measurements are best treated in a comparative framework. The difculty of knowing the exact isotopic composition of the diet and the metabolic complications mentioned above mean that it is currently not possible to quantify the contributions of different foods to complex mixed diets such as those commonly eaten by people. Provided that the isotopic values of foodstuffs remain constant, it is possible to use isotopic dietary evidence as a powerful measure of relative diet: to investigate whether one group ate more or less of a particular category of foods than another. Isotope-based reconstructions of diet have sometimes conicted with reconstructions based on the identication of excavated food residues (Bailey and Milner 2002; Claassen 1988). This may stem from several causes but is often at least partly the result of poor temporal and/or geographical t between the material used in the isotopic analyses and the excavated food waste. This is not a problem in the study presented here. Used with care, isotopic evidence of past diets can provide a powerful, secure line of evidence that can be used to adjudicate among the multiple competing hypotheses with which excavated archaeological evidence is often consistent (e.g., Inskeep 1987, 3035). Materials and Methods The 69 skeletons analysed in this study were drawn from museum collections. Forty-ve come from the Robberg Peninsula and the adjacent Plettenberg Bay, while 22 come from Matjes River Rock Shelter and 2 are from sites about 800 m east of Matjes River (see g. 1 and table 2). Some of these skeletons were dug up by early collectors in the rst half of the twentieth century. Some were revealed accidentally in the course of construction work, and some are from controlled archaeological excavations. In only one case, however, was there sufcient archaeological context to provide a reliable date, so each individual (except Burial 2 from Nelson Bay Cave) has been directly dated by radiocarbon dating of bone collagen. To avoid complications in the interpretation of the isotope results due to the effects of breast-feeding, only adult skeletons have been included (Clayton, Sealy, and Pfeiffer 2006; Katzenberg, Herring, and Saunders 1996). Stable isotope ratios were measured in the Archaeometry Laboratory in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cape Town. Small samples of bone were decalcied in dilute (ca. 2%) hydrochloric acid, rinsed in distilled water,


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Figure 2. d15N values of human skeletons from Robberg/Plettenberg Bay (diamonds) and Matjes River (squares), together with archaeological animal bones from Nelson Bay Cave (triangles), all plotted against uncalibrated radiocarbon date BP. Data for animals from Sealy (1996). Crosses near y-axis indicate mean one standard deviation for modern brown mussels from Robberg (inside plot area, 7.7 0.8, n p 19) and Matjes River (outside plot area, 7.4 0.5, n p 12), and archaeological seal bones from Nelson Bay Cave (16.8 1.7, n p 9). Size of symbols as plotted encompasses mean one standard deviation of the radiocarbon determination. As in Richards, Schulting, and Hedges (2003), dates have not been calibrated because of the difculty of knowing the magnitude of the marine correction factor: this is usually estimated at ca. 400 years, but a recent series of comparisons of paired shell and charcoal samples from Matjes River Rock Shelter yielded offsets ranging from 425 to 35 years (Do ckel 1998). The maximum correction for bones in this study is about 200 years (most positive d13C is 11.1, excluding the very recent outlier from Matjes River). Calibration does not signicantly alter the allocation of points to the three time brackets shown here. Vertical lines demarcate points between 4,500 and 2,000 BP.

soaked overnight in 0.1 M sodium hydroxide, and then soaked in distilled water until neutral. The resultant acid-insoluble bone protein, loosely termed collagen, was freeze-dried. Collagen preservation was excellent: C/N ratios and weight percent carbon and nitrogen of all samples were characteristic of well-preserved collagen (Ambrose 1990; DeNiro 1985; van Klinken 1999). This is as expected in a basic (high-pH) shell midden burial environment. The isotope ratios were measured on a Finnigan-MAT 252 ratio mass spectrometer coupled with a Carlo-Erba preparation unit. The standard deviation of repeated determinations of homogeneous material was less than 0.2 for both carbon and nitrogen. Carbon isotope results are expressed relative to PDB, nitrogen relative to ambient inhalable reservoir.

Results The d15 N values for skeletons from Robberg/Plettenberg Bay range from 8.0 to 18.3, with d13 C from 18.4 to 11.1. Skeletons from Matjes River show a slightly smaller range, with d15 N between 9.6 and 15.9 and d13 C between 15.6 and 11.3 with one outlier at 5.6 (table 2, gs. 2 and 3). In gure 2, d15 N values (which, as argued above, are likely to provide a more direct index of marine/terrestrial protein intake) are plotted against radiocarbon date. Analyses of a series of archaeological animal bones from Nelson Bay Cave show that the baseline environmental values for d15 N have not shifted signicantly during the period of interest. At Rob-

Sealy Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern in Holocene South Africa


Table 2. Stable Isotope Measurements, Sex Estimation (Where Possible), and Radiocarbon Dates for All Skeletons
UCT Lab No. 7302&620 10989 5234 10138 7299 5220 10851 10847 5211 5209 5219 5214 5215 7304&619 7316 7301&616 5232 5212 7311 5425 5235 7314&614 7305 7309&612 5599 5208 5426 5210 5213 7319 10852 7313&617 10846 7300&615 5216 5233 8459 8458 10849 7303 7395 11058 9145 7407 7613 7317 5230 5603 5225 10848 5222 5223 7408 5226 5601 5224 5221 7398 7404 5227 Museum Acc. No. SAM-AP 5051 SAM-AP 5053 ALB 282 NMB 1704 ALB (from JB) SAM-AP 4898 UCT 254 NMB 1707 NMB 5 SAM-AP 1878(A) SAM-AP 1146 UCT 246 SAM-AP 1889 SAM-AP 1893 ALB 50 SAM-AP 5052 SAM-AP 3030 SAM-AP 5050 NMB 1639 SAM-AP 1878(B) SAM-AP 5049 UCT 345 NMB 1705A SAM-AP 5048 SAM-AP 6016 SAM-AP 1131 NMB 1705B SAM-AP 1145 UCT 347 SAM-AP 1871 SAM-AP 1879 SAM-AP 1894 UCT161 SAM-AP 4980 NMB 4 SAM-AP 3026 SAM-AP 3021 NMB 1640 SAM-AP 6326 SAM-AP 6325 NMB 1319 SAM-AP 1129 NMB 1312 SAM-AP 5055 NMB 1324 Not accessioned SAM-AP 4661 SAM-AP 4632 NMB not acc MSk 2 Matj Riv skel #1 NMB 1241A NMB 1242 NMB 1440 NMB 1273 NMB MSk 5 NMB 1241B NMB 1271 NMB 1275 NMB 1437 NMB 1596 NMB SN4 NMB 1274 Locality Robberg Robberg Beacon Island Plettenberg Bay Robberg Robberg Beacon Island Plettenberg Bay Plettenberg Bay Robberg (Cave E) Robberg Plettenberg Bay Robberg (Cave E) Robberg Plettenberg Bay Robberg Robberg Robberg Robberg Cave Robberg (Cave E) Robberg NBC Burial 2 Plettenberg Bay Robberg Robberg Robberg Plettenberg Bay Robberg NBC Burial 4 Robberg (Cave D) Robberg Robberg (Cave F) Plettenberg Bay Plettenberg Bay Robberg Robberg Robberg Robberg Cave Nelson Bay Cave Nelson Bay Cave Plettenberg Bay Robberg Plettenberg Bay Plettenberg Bay Robberg Matjes River Piet se Bank Piet se Bank Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River Matjes River d13C 18.4 11.1a 17.0 12.2 13.4 13.1 15.7 14.9 14.3 13.0 14.7 12.0 11.5 11.7 11.3 11.1 13.3 11.7 12.2 12.0 12.1 12.5 12.9 12.3 12.4 13.5 13.1 12.5 14.3 12.4 11.1 12.9 12.1 12.6 14.2 12.1 12.0 12.0 15.5 15.2 13.0 11.8 13.2 12.5a 12.5 5.6 13.1 15.1 15.1 13.8 12.7 14.8 15.0 15.4 14.0 15.0 12.9 15.6 13.8 13.7 13.6 13.6 d15N 12.4 15.9a 8.0 9.3 13.1 13.4 9.3 10.6 11.5 14.4 13.1 15.1 17.5 16.6 16.9 18.3 15.1 16.7 15.9 15.9 16.1 14.7 14.4 16.6 13.7 13.2 13.4 15.3 13.3 16.2 17.5 15.2 16.0 15.2 14.2 16.8 15.7 16.3 10.4 11.2 13.8 17.3 13.8 15.6a 16.0 9.6 14.4 11.8 13.4 13.6 13.5 11.5 11.4 11.6 10.1 12.9 13.0 11.9 13.2 10.7 13.7 13.2 Sex F F M M M F M M M F F F? F F F? F? N M M F M F? F F F M F? F F? F? M F? F? M M M F Radiocarbon Date (BP) OxA-V-2053-48 OxA-V-2065-41 Pta-8580 Pta-6963 Pta-8932 OxA-V-2053-49 Pta-6820 OxA-V-2064-53 OxA-V-2064-49 Pta-6592 Pta-6646 Pta-6812 Pta-6594 Pta-6613 Pta-8557 OxA-V-2053-46 Pta-7940 Pta-7927 Pta-6965 Pta-2145 Pta-7934 Pta-6964 Pta-7924 OxA-V-2053-45 OxA-V-2053-44 Pta-6978 Pta-2284 OxA-V-2055-35 Pta-2273 Pta-2283 OxA-V-2053-43 OxA-V-2064-54 Pta-7941 OxA-V-2064-48 Pta-7925 Pta-6595 Pta-6983 OxA-V-2055-37 OxA-V-2055-36 OxA-V-2064-51 OxA-V-2053-47 Pta-7983 OxA-V-2065-42 OxA-V-2055-38 OxA-11965 OxA-V-2055-34 OxA-V-2053-42 Pta-6944 Pta-6952 Pta-6958 OxA-V-2064-50 Pta-6948 Pta-6942 OxA-11939 Pta-6950 Pta-6957 Pta-6986 Pta-6947 OxA-11937 OxA-11938 Pta-6981 207 25 370 27 570 50 760 50 850 50 1,226 26 1,270 50 1,394 24 1,423 26 2,170 20 2,240 20 2,290 60 2,310 50 2,360 20 2,380 45 2,416 27 2,570 50 2,580 60 2,590 60 2,620 35 2,740 50 ca. 2,750 2,780 60 2,780 60 2,813 29 3,065 29 3,070 60 3,210 70 3,236 33 3,310 60 3,440 60 3,511 30 3,541 26 3,605 20 3,940 27 3,980 60 4,030 60 4,120 60 4,865 36 4,897 35 5,251 29 5,379 34 5,980 50 6,995 50 7,245 40 271 20 1,310 30 2,183 26 2,200 50 2,280 60 2,970 60 3,030 26 3,040 60 3,050 60 3,277 31 3,290 90 3,570 50 4,850 60 4,940 70 4,956 32 5,025 35 5,120 50 Sample Cranium (styloid) Cranium Fibula and ribs Left femur Ribs Mandible Left femur Cranium Cranium Ribs Left femur Ribs Left humerus Ribs Fibula and ribs Cranium Tibia Innominate Ribs Femurb Tibia Ribb Left femur Femur Mandible Maxilla Left femur Left metatarsalb Rib Right bulab Ribsb Mandible Cranium Femur Cranium Temporal bone and rib Right femur Left femur Large calcaneum Small calcaneum Cranium Cranium Fibula Cranium Cranium Rib Cranium Cranium Ribs Ribs Right femur Cranium Right femur Ribs Fibula Right femur Ribs Right femur Left femur Humerus Phalange Right bula

7415 7416 5602 5600 10850 5228 5229 NMB NMB NMB NMB NMB NMB NMB Gr1 rib A Gr1 rib B not acc SS2 not acc SS3 1448A 1281 1342 (p MR1) Matjes Matjes Matjes Matjes Matjes Matjes Matjes River River River River River River River 12.8 11.8 13.5 14.6 13.9 15.0 11.3 13.8 15.9 13.0 13.9 12.9 12.8 14.9 M F F M? M? F

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OxA-11940 OxA-11941 Pta-6976 Pta-6975 OxA-V-2064-52 Pta-6988 OxA-V-2064-56 5,148 33 5,368 35 5,370 70 5,390 70 7,295 32 7,420 80 9,688 36 Rib Rib Ribs Right femur Cranium Right tibia Ulna

Note: N, Neutral/nonsexable. a Measured at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Laboratory. b Used for stable isotope measurements only; date already available at the start of this project.

berg/Plettenberg Bay, only 7 of 45 skeletons are older than 4,500 BP. This is too few to see a clear pattern, if one exists, but these individuals show substantial variation in d15 N. Between 4,500 and 2,000 BP, skeletons from Robberg/Plettenberg Bay show uniformly enriched d15 N values, all 1 13. This is a relatively large sample (29 individuals), so the observation is robust. These are the remains of people who ate substantial quantities of seafood, including high-trophic-level animal food such as the meat of seals and/or carnivorous sh. In some cases it was possible to assess the sex of the individual. The d15 N values of male and female skeletons are very similar, at least between 4,500 and 2,000 BP. Men and women seem to have eaten similar proportions of high-trophic-level seafoods. After 2,000 BP, there is a sharp decline in the d15 N values of skeletons from Robberg/Plettenberg Bay. At that time, hunter-gatherer lifeways were disrupted by the emergence of herding societies along the southern and western coasts of South Africa. The marked shift in d15 N values may be linked to the adoption of domesticated stock in the region. Skeletons from Matjes River Rock Shelter show less chronological variation in d15 N . Most have values of around 13, indicating that people ate a mixed diet with more terrestrial food and/or low-trophic-level marine food such as shellsh. Prior to 4,500 BP, on the basis of the small sample available, d15 N values for skeletons from Matjes River Rock Shelter are not signicantly different from those from Robberg/Plettenberg Bay (Mann-Whitney Z-value p 0.93, 0.30 ! p ! 0.40). Between 4,500 and 2,000 BP, however, the difference is highly signicant (Mann-Whitney Z-value p 4.29, p ! 0.0001). There are only two skeletons from Matjes River dated younger than 2,000 BP. The most recent (UCT 7407, 271 20 BP) has very positive d13 C for its d15 N value (d15N p 9.6, d13C p 5.6). This combination of values is outside the range for Cape coastal hunter-gatherers, and the sample clearly derives from an individual who ate substantial quantities C4 foods. By this time, farmers practising C4-based agriculture (sorghum, millet, and possibly maize) had settled a few hundred kilometers east of Matjes River. C4 -consumers have been recorded from the southern Cape from the second millennium AD (e.g., UCT 67 and NMB 1704 [Sealy 1997]). Discussion It is clear that, at least between about 4,500 and 2,000 BP, people who were buried on the Robberg Peninsula and in the

area of the modern town of Plettenberg Bay had had a specialized economy and consumed a great deal of high-trophiclevel marine protein. In contrast, people who were buried at Matjes River Rock Shelter, only 14 km to the east, had eaten much more mixed diets incorporating more terrestrial food and/or low-trophic-level marine food such as shellsh. The Robberg/Plettenberg Bay values stand out as unusual in the context of the southern Cape as a whole (Sealy and Pfeiffer 2000). The most enriched d15 N values, 17 18, approach gures reported for skeletons from the Northwest Coast of North America and Inuit skeletons from Canada and Alaska (Schoeninger, DeNiro, and Tauber 1983). Clearly, these individuals ate a great deal of high-trophic-level marine protein. The inhabitants of Robberg had a special foraging opportunity in the form of access to seals. The word Robberg means Seal Mountain, and the Robberg Peninsula is home to one of the rare mainland colonies of Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) along the southern African coast. Most seal colonies are on off-shore islands, where the animals are protected from terrestrial predators. Today, the colonies closest to Robberg are on islands in Algoa Bay, about 250 km to the east, and Mossel Bay, 150 km to the west (Rand 1972; Shaughnessy 1993). The fact that Robberg is a long narrow peninsula with a restricted connection to the rest of the coastline may have afforded some protection from carnivores. In the rst half of the twentieth century there was also a small colony on Beacon Island, a couple of kilometres east of Robberg, within Plettenberg Bay. This is an island only at high tide; it would have been accessible from the shore at low tide. The present-day nature and distribution of seal colonies have been signicantly affected by intensive hunting over the past few centuries. Seals have been harvested commercially in South Africa since the seventeenth century, with 45,000 animals being taken by Dutch sealers near the Cape of Good Hope in 1610 alone (Hart 1957 in Shaughnessy 1984) in addition to the catches of English and French sealers. By the late nineteenth century, at least 23 colonies had been wiped out (Oosthuizen and David 1988). A colony was, however, still present at Robberg; a license was granted in 1909 to harvest seals from Seal Point, near the tip of the peninsula, and also at Seal Ledges and Walker Point, on the mainland near Knysna, where colonies no longer exist (Shaughnessy 1984). Vic Cockroft of the Centre for Dolphin Studies and

Sealy Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern in Holocene South Africa


Ocean Safaris in Plettenberg Bay, studying the documents relating to commercial sealing, has calculated that the Robberg colony in the nineteenth century probably consisted of around 6,000 animals, compared with ca. 3,000 in March 2003 (personal communication). Today, the Robberg seal colony is situated on the eastern side of the peninsula, on a very precipitous stretch of rocky coastline. Seals can often be seen battling to climb out of the water onto the steep rocks, and space on shore is very limited. Before commercial sealing took its toll, it is likely that the colony was located at Suidoosbank, near the tip of the peninsula (Vic Cockroft, personal communication), where the rocks slope much more gently and there is a large area of at rock. Cape fur seals do not migrate, but they travel and feed over long distances, up to 50 miles from land (Rand 1967). They are land-based during the breeding season in spring and early summer, but they feed at sea in autumn and winter. Thus breeding colonies are large in summer and small in winter. Oosthuizen and David (1988, g. 2) report that at the large seal colony at Cape Frio, in Namibia, up to 10,000 animals are present in summer, falling to around 1,500 in winter. The Robberg colony is today a hauling-out colony, where seals rest on rocks, rather than a breeding colony and may have been so in the past. Some animals are, however, to be found there at all times of the year. A seal colony such as this would have been a major attraction to hunter-gatherers. Food refuse from coastal archaeological sites commonly includes seal bones; in most areas, people were able to obtain only animals that washed up sick or dead and perhaps the occasional individual that came ashore and could be killed. The age proles of seals in most Later Stone Age sites reect this: the majority of animals are ca. nine-month-old weanlings, at the age when their mothers are pregnant with the next pup and insist that the previous years offspring nd their own food. Weaker juveniles commonly succumb at this stage and are washed up dead or dying on the shorerich pickings for hunter-gatherers. Seal remains from Nelson Bay Cave, while still dominated by juveniles, include more older animals, as one would expect if hunters had access to a seal colony rather than having to rely on washups. Animals younger than nine months are, however, not represented, which supports the idea that this was a haulingout colony rather than a breeding colony even in prehistoric times (Klein and Cruz-Uribe 1996, g. 5; Klein, Cruz-Uribe, and Skinner 1999, g. 2). Estimates of sustainable cull rates vary, but Cape fur seals reproduce fast: females are sexually mature by their second year, and they pup every year. Undisturbed seal colonies for which records have been kept in recent decades can grow quite rapidly (Branch and Branch 1981). In addition, it is likely that only about one in ve young males becomes a harem master (Vic Cockroft, personal communication). Considerable numbers of animals could therefore have been hunted without compromising the viability of the population. Seal bones are present at Nelson Bay Cave from the early

Holocene, when the sea reached approximately its present level after the post-glacial warming, onwards. They are more common, however, in levels post-dating 3,300 BP. It is not clear when the Robberg seal colony was rst established. The shoreline shifted in the mid-Holocene, when sea level rose by about 13 m (Compton 2001; Marker and Miller 1993; Reddering 1988). This high stand is dated to ca. 6,000 BP at Knysna (Marker and Miller 1993) and 5,000 BP at Keurbooms River, with a return to present mean sea level by shortly after 4,000 BP (Reddering 1988). This would have affected seal colonies, but the animals may simply have followed the rising and falling shoreline without substantially shifting the location of the colony. Cape fur seals eat sh and are near the top of the marine food chain (their principal predators, apart from man, are sharks and orcas). Archaeological seal bones from Nelson Bay Cave have high d15 N values: 16.8 1.7 (n p 9) (Muller 2002). Consumption of seal meat would, therefore, have contributed substantially to elevated d15 N values in human bone collagen. A seal colony would have provided a rich year-round storehouse of food, both meat and blubber. Fat is known to be a particularly desirable resource to hunter-gatherers, since the meat of most wild animals is very lean. The rarity of readily accessible seal colonies must have made those that existed especially attractive, and these must have been key localities on hunter-gatherers mental maps of their landscape. Other foods would also have contributed to high d15 N values at Robberg/Plettenberg Bay. The geographical position of the Robberg Peninsula, extending 4 km out into the ocean, with deep water on either side, means that it offers particularly good shing opportunities, and deep-water sh species not usually caught by shore-based anglers are regularly taken from Robberg. Fish bones are prominent among the excavated food remains from Nelson Bay Cave, as well as the bones of sea birds such as cormorants and gannets. The Nelson Bay Cave assemblage includes bones of the yellowtail sh (Seriola lalandii), a species not usually caught from the shore and uncommon in archaeological sites. Yellowtail are carnivorous sh and therefore have relatively high d15 N values (13.7 0.6 [n p 5] [muscle tissue of modem sh]). Yellowtail started to become a regular part of the sh assemblage at Nelson Bay Cave above unit 78 (ca. 4,500 BP), reaching about 40% of the minimum number of individual sh in a number of the units from 63 (ca. 3,300 BP) to 54 (Inskeep 1987, g. 68A). Since yellowtail are twice as large as any of the other sh caught regularly at Nelson Bay Cave they contributed a signicant proportion of the total quantity of sh esh (Poggenpoel 1984). Contrary to initial expectations, there is no signicant increase in the d15 N values of human skeletons after 3,300 BP coinciding with the marked changes in food residues and artefact assemblages at Nelson Bay Cave. Post-3,300-BP levels yielded substantially more sh remains and more bones of juvenile seals than older layers. We do not have information on the relative importance of shellsh before and after this


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time (Inskeep 1987, 273). If there is archaeological evidence for a more marine-oriented diet after 3,300 BP, why do we not see correspondingly higher d15 N values in the skeletons? This is something of a puzzle, but the explanation may have to do with the trophic levels of the marine foods consumed. If consumption of lower-trophic-level marine foods such as planktivorous sh and perhaps shellsh also increased at this time, then the average d15 N value of the diet as a whole may not have shifted substantially. We need further work to understand this issue properly. For the moment, we should note that there was indeed a wider variety of sh species in levels post-dating 3,300 BP than in earlier layers (Inskeep 1987, 235). If we turn this issue around and look at it from an archaeological point of view, it is remarkable that the specialized economy at Robberg/Plettenberg Bay, with its focus on hightrophic-level marine foods, persisted across the major culturestratigraphic boundary at 3,300 BP. We know that this was a time of widespread change across the entire region. The shift in stone tool types from the formal microlithic Wilton to informal macrolithic assemblages made mostly on locally available quartzite beach cobbles is the most archaeologically visible and hence widely documented component of the suite of changes observed at Nelson Bay Cave. It extended along much of the Cape coast (Binneman 1995; Sampson 1974; Van Noten 1974), although nowhere else is it as securely dated as at Nelson Bay Cave. In other words, this is a change from a curated technology (the Wilton) to an expedient onea contrast argued elsewhere to be deeply rooted in socioeconomic practice, specically risk-management strategies (Binford 1977). In the southern Cape this wide-ranging change in stone tool-making tradition took place across established economic and social structures without necessarily re-conguring them. In a pioneering study more than 30 years ago, Nick Shackleton measured oxygen isotope ratios in growth increments in Patella tabularis shells from early and mid-Holocene layers at Nelson Bay Cave. (This species has recently been reassigned to Scutellastra tabularis [Ridgway et al. 1998]). Shackleton found patterned variations in 18 O/16 O across the shells corresponding to summer/winter uctuations in water temperatures. In each of his 15 specimens the most recent growth increments indicated lower water temperatures: these shellsh were harvested in the winter months (Shackleton 1973). He inferred that at this time, between 9,000 and 5,000 BP, the cave was occupied in the winter. Shackleton chose to work on Scutellastra tabularis because it is the largest species of limpet in South Africa. The shells are robust and tend to be well preserved, and the growth increments are sufciently large to be easily sampled. It is, however, a relatively rare species at Nelson Bay Cave: in most levels it contributed only a few percent of the total shellsh assemblage, rising to a maximum of 5% in layers dating to 11,000 to 10,000 BP and again at about 5,000 BP (Klein 1972a, g. 4). Inferences about the seasonality of occupation of the site based on this one species may be correct; certainly, Shackletons results are re-

markably consistent. It would, however, strengthen the argument to have similar analyses of other, more common shell types. Subsequent attempts to apply this technique have encountered problems, especially poor preservation of the outermost growth increments in shells from older layers. Some success has, however, been achieved with Turbo opercula from the last 5,000 years. Turbo is a more common species than Scutellastra tabularis, and the opercula are well suited to oxygen isotope measurements. Analysis of 76 specimens has yielded much more variable results, indicating that shells were collected in all seasons of the year (my own unpublished data). In the period of most interest here, after 4,500 BP, oxygen isotope analyses of shells indicate that Nelson Bay Cave was occupied in all seasons. Matjes River Rock Shelter, by contrast, offered no special foraging opportunities. The shing spots in this area are similar to those all along the southern Cape coast, and there are no records of seal colonies in the vicinity in historic times. Unsystematic excavation practice at the site has meant that food remains were mostly discarded. Examination of the remaining sections shows that shellsh were abundant. Fish bone is present, but we do not know the range of species that were caught or their relative importance. There are a few seal bones among the small extant sample of excavated animal bones, but these occur in almost all Later Stone Age sites and may derive from washed-up animals, as described above. Quantitative studies of the available excavated materials are impossible. On the basis of the d15 N values, however, it is clear that diets at Matjes River Rock Shelter included more low-trophic-level marine foods such as shellsh and/or more terrestrial foods than those at Robberg/Plettenberg Bay This hypothesis is supported by the results of the regression of d15 N on d13 C for the two data sets (skeletons older than 2,000 BP only, in order to exclude possible food producers) (g. 3). The shallower slope at Matjes River (i.e., lower d15 N for given d13 C values) is what one would expect for lower-trophic-level foods, and the lower r 2 value indicates dietary heterogeneity. The isotopic measurements reported here are of bone collagen, which, as outlined above, is a tissue that turns over slowly in adult life. The isotopic values integrate foods eaten over at least the last decade of life and probably longer. Differences in d15 N between Robberg/Plettenberg Bay and Matjes River therefore reect long-term dietary differences at the scale of individual lifetimes, differences that were maintained over a decade or more. If the people who were buried in a particular area were also resident there, then the pattern could only have arisen in a situation in which there was considerable social albeit not geographic distance between the two areas. I infer that there was a territorial boundary between Robberg/Plettenberg Bay and Matjes River, very likely marked by the estuary of the Bietou/Keurbooms River (cf. Do ckel 1998). This is a prominent feature in the landscape; it is (by South African standards) a very large estuary, too deep and wide to wade across. Another boundary existed between the

Sealy Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern in Holocene South Africa


Figure 3. d15N versus d13C for skeletons from Robberg/Plettenberg Bay (diamonds) and Matjes River (squares), individuals older than 2,000 BP only.

coast and the site of Whitchers Cave, 14 km inland. Skeletons from Whitchers Cave had isotope values indicating that they did not consume marine foods and therefore must not have spent time on the coast (Sealy and Pfeiffer 2000). This cave is in the Fold Belt, which here lies close to the coast. It is very rugged country, dissected by deeply cut river valleys and difcult to traverse. Wider Implications Thus I propose that we can begin to reconstruct an archaeological landscape in which, by ca. 4,500 BP, the coastal areas of the southern Cape were partitioned into territories occupied by separate hunter-gatherer groups. These appear to have been separated by clear geographic boundaries, and individual and group mobility was limited to demarcated areas. Further work may draw out additional details, but the picture thus far contradicts the generalized forager model derived from southern African hunter-gatherer ethnographies (although some groups, notably the !ko, did defend territories [Heinz 1972]). It remains to be seen whether marriage partners, for example, were obtained from outside territories; further isotopic work may enable us to answer this question. This nding becomes less surprising when viewed in the context of the wider literature on territoriality among huntergatherers. Elizabeth Cashdan (1983) described two very different approaches to controlling access to resources (in situations in which control is necessitated by competition). The rst operates through restricting membership of the social group that permits use of resources in a given area (social boundary de-

fence). The second involves excluding outsiders from a dened area of land (economic defence or perimeter defence). Social boundary defence tends to occur in regions where resources are thinly distributed and variable or unpredictable. As a result, territories are large, and the work costs of patrolling them are high. In addition, expert knowledge of where resources are located is critical to foraging success, and therefore newcomers need to link up with locals who have this expertise. Cashdan argued that Kalahari San groups employ social boundary defence with reciprocal access. The degree of defence varies from area to area, depending on how much pressure there is on resources. This system of spatial organization is clearly related to many features of Kalahari San social organization, including uid band membership, with very permeable spatial and social boundaries. Individuals in societies employing social boundary defence are often very mobile and may move over sizable areas. This system is also linked to extensive social networks, maintained through exchange or other relationships, which furnish a safety net of friends and relatives whom people can visit (sometimes for extended periods) in times of need. Perimeter defence, on the other hand, occurs in areas where resources are dense and predictable and the costs of defence are less than the benets that accrue from controlling the resource (Dyson-Hudson and Smith 1978). Territories tend to be quite small, since it is energetically feasible to defend territorial boundaries only if these are relatively short. Boundaries need to be easily recognizable and are marked by landscape or other features. Social groups have their own territories, and individuals do not usually move into foreign


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territories. Ethnographically, perimeter defence strategies have been documented among the Maidu and Cahuilla in California, the Owens Valley Paiute, the Wanniyala-aetto (Veddah) in Sri Lanka, and possibly the Ainu in Japan. In the past, when hunter-gatherers occupied more of the worlds highly productive land, perimeter boundary defence was probably more common. These two categories may be the ends of a spectrum, and a simplistic either/or classication is likely to underestimate the complexity of territorial organization among hunting and gathering peoples. Even so, perimeter defence certainly ts the isotopic evidence from the southern Cape better than the ethnographic/social-boundary-defence model. Cashdan has noted, further, that we might expect competition to be related to the magnitude of temporal variation in resource abundance; if populations are regulated to environmental resources they are presumably regulated to the lean times, and consequently populations in varying environments would be below carrying capacity much of the time. We might therefore expect greater competition where resources do not uctuate temporally (Cashdan 1983, 63). The southern coast of South Africa is productive, with little seasonal uctuationjust such an environment as is described by Cashdan. To sum up, I propose that hunter-gatherers living in the area of Robberg/Plettenberg Bay and Matjes River between about 4,500 and 2,000 BP were more settled than previously thought. They lived in exclusive, demarcated territories with clearly dened boundaries. We cannot yet trace all these boundaries, but one ran between Plettenberg Bay and Matjes River Rock Shelter, very likely along the Keurbooms/Bietou estuary, and there was another between the coast and Whitchers Cave. Future work should try to map the extent of these territories. A comparison of the excavated artefactual assemblages from Nelson Bay Cave and Matjes River Rock Shelter is already under way to investigate whether the economic differences reported here have material cultural correlates. Two clearly differentiated social groups living in close proximity to one another might well have expressed group afliation through styles of artefact manufacture and use. We need to develop ways of exploring how a more settled lifestyle might have articulated with other aspects of life: for example, exchange networks, including exchange of marriage partners. I suggest that extensive systems of formal gift-giving relationships, as documented in the Kalahari, are inconsistent with the settlement pattern and type of social organization proposed here. The best-documented system is of course Ju/ hoansi xaro, but analogous arrangements have been documented among the Nharo and the Nama, though not among the G/wi (Barnard 1992). This is not to deny the existence of trade and exchange at Nelson Bay and Matjes River: at both sites there are items such as ostrich eggshell that probably came from some distance away. Ostriches are dry-land birds, not found along the southern Cape coast in historic times, and the ostrich eggshell in these sites may have come from as far away as the Karoo. I would argue, however, that in the more tightly

bounded, socially constrained world proposed here, people would not have neededor been ableto maintain extensive social networks which, apart from their role in redistributing goods, provided rights of access to alternative places of residence and resources in times of need. This is explicitly recognized: xaro is about unreliable food and water, or at least it was in the past (Ju/hoan man quoted in Wiessner 1997, 167). Such residential mobility conicts with the pattern in gure 2 and so could not have been practised in this area between 4,500 and 2,000 BP. Any exchange relationships that existed must have been embedded in a different set of social practices. There are a number of other questions. How would people have resolved disputes? Does a more settled lifestyle imply a greater degree of social complexity (cf. Rowley-Conwy 2001), and how might we go about investigating this question in the archaeological record? There are no obvious indicators of accumulation of wealth in the 4,5002,000 BP levels at Nelson Bay Cave compared with earlier layers. The frequencies of decorative items such as beads and marine shell pendants vary through the sequence but are not signicantly higher after 4,500 BP. Some burials were more elaborate than others, with a greater quantity and variety of grave goods. At Klasies River, about 100 km east of Matjes River, and at Welgeluk, some infant burials were especially richly adorned (Hall and Binneman 1987). Individual burials are, however, very variable, and it is not apparent that any social ranking is being expressed. Hall and Binneman suggested that the elaborate juvenile burials might represent accumulations of goods obtained in xaro-like exchange networks while the child was still too young to reciprocate (but see caveat above). Burials deserve fuller discussion, especially in the light of work on placement of burials as a means of marking the landscape in hunter-gatherer societies in Australia (Pardoe 1988), Mesolithic Europe (Rowley-Conwy 1988, 2001, 2004) and the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa (Hall 1990, 2000). These researchers and others have argued that territorial hunter-gatherers often (though not always) bury their dead in designated cemeteries which serve, in part, to express ancestral links to the land. Is Matjes River Rock Shelter, with its ca. 120 human burials, a cemetery? This question needs to be considered in the light of the density of occupation at the site (itself an interesting issue that might repay closer investigation). As described above, Matjes River Rock Shelter is an enormous shell midden. In addition to burials, it contains a whole range of domestic residues indicating that it was also an important occupation site. Along the Cape coast, human burials are often associated with middens, whether these are in caves, in rock shelters, or in the open. Many burials from the southern Cape occur as isolated instances in small open middens or sometimes are not associated with other archaeological remains at all (Morris 1992). There is no detectable separation of burial sites from living sites. On Robberg, burials have been found in all the large cave sites (Nelson Bay Cave, Cave D, Cave E, etc.) (Morris 1992, table 2). There is therefore no evidence for exclusive burial

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sitescemeteries as Pardoe (1988) denes them. In other parts of the world, however, this criterion of exclusivity is given less weight, and Matjes River Rock Shelter might well be considered a cemetery. On the basis of the evidence we have at present, I doubt that one can sustain an argument for the existence of cemeteries in this region. The situation may be different in the Eastern Cape (Hall 1990). Hitchcock (1982) discussed the implications of sedentism for San communities along the Nata River, in Botswana. He found that, with increased territorial identication and demarcation, rights of access to territories were more often inherited through the male line (compared with the situation among mobile bands, where inheritance was through both paternal and maternal lines). This may be one example of increased male inuence, which Woodburn (1980) has noted is often associated with the adoption of delayed-return strategies. Along the Nata River, collection and storage of surplus foods became a more regular strategy, with children increasingly involved in household labour. Group size declined (though not all case studies show this pattern) and marriage partners tended to be drawn from closer to home, as argued for territorial communities along the Murray River in Australia (Pardoe 1988). Hitchcock documented changes in sharing patterns: with increased sedentism, a greater proportion of sharing was among close relatives. Economic specialists, such as hunt leaders and traditional medical practitioners, became more important, and leaders came to have more inuence. Arguments could no longer be settled by one or both parties moving away, so that some form of conict resolution was required. Because Hitchcocks study describes hunter-gatherers who were becoming more sedentary partly because of access to domesticated foods, a degree of caution is required. Even so, some of these observations provide material for formulating hypotheses to test in the archaeological record. For example, were marriage partners drawn from nearby groups between 4,500 and 2,000 BP compared with earlier (or later) times? More detailed physical anthropological work might be able to answer this question. Future work will explore how the model of southern Cape hunter-gatherer societies developed here articulates with the excavated artefactual record. For the present, one can reach beyond economy and settlement pattern to a tantalizing hint of the cognitive and symbolic world of southern Cape huntergatherers in the form of a unique artefact: a painted bone recovered from a cave at Knysna in the late nineteenth century. The original is in the British Museum, and I have not seen it. It has been described as a lion scapula, but, judging from the photograph published by Willcox (1963, pl. xvi, reproduced in g. 4), this identication is almost certainly wrong. It is probably a seal scapula (Graham Avery, personal communication). It is painted with several somewhat enigmatic black gures, one resembling a seal and another that may depict two similar superimposed creatures or, alternatively, a birdlike being. This is the only painting on bone known from South Africa, but the style is similar to that of images painted and engraved on rock in many parts of the subcontinent. David Lewis-Williams

Figure 4. Painted seal scapula found in cave at the Knysna Heads (from Willcox 1963, pl. xvi). Specimen is reported to be 7 3 8 inches long (Willcox 1963, 48).

and others have shown conclusively that these paintings expressed aspects of a complex belief system that encompassed, inter alia, ideas about how people came to be differentiated from animals and about interactions between animals and people in the spirit world. There is no mention of seals in the (exclusively inland) southern African hunter-gatherer ethnographies, but animals that move between one realm and another, such as ying birds or snakes that live both above and below ground, were accorded special signicance (Bleek and Lloyd 1911; Lewis-Williams and Dowson 1990). Seals, as animals that live both on land and in the sea, fall into this category. Huntergatherers would have known that seals are unusual, among marine creatures, in several ways: they breathe air, and they are warm-blooded animals that suckle their young. These characteristics, combined with the probable economic importance of seals, may have singled them out as special animals, and they may have had special symbolic associations. I would like, now, to situate this study in a wider context, relating it to what we know about mid-to-late-Holocene settlement in other parts of South Africa. Thirty years ago, Janette Deacon documented an almost complete lack of radiocarbon dates between 8,000 and 4,000 BP from archaeological sites in the interior of the country, beyond the Fold Belt. There were, however, Early Holocene (10,000 to 8,000 BP) and Late Holocene (post-4,000) dates in this region. This pattern contrasted sharply with that seen in the coastal regions of South Africa, especially the southern Cape, which yielded numerous midHolocene dates (J. Deacon 1974). Deacon suggested that the interior was depopulated because of warmer, drier conditions at this time. Archaeological research since 1974 has substantially conrmed this pattern (e.g., Humphreys and Thackeray 1983), although a few interior sites have yielded limited deposits within this time bracket (Wadley 1986, 2000). As climatic and envi-


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ronmental conditions moderated in the second half of the Holocene, populations expanded from the coastal regions back into the interior. Population ssion is one possible outcome of population pressure. In their analysis of the relationship between population and culture, Hammel and Howell have written that in the most general terms we see four alternative responses to population pressure. . . .Where there is vacant land and social organisation is relatively inelastic, we expect expansion by ssion. When the population is surrounded by other populations and there is no unoccupied land available, we look for forms of conict with neighbours (1987, 144). Expansion into the interior, where unoccupied land was available, and the formation of bounded territories along the coast, where it was not, are arguably complementary responses to the same phenomenon of growing population pressure in the coastal forelands and Fold Belt. The pattern is repeated elsewhere: Hall (1990) has argued for increasingly settled communities from about 4,300 BP at sites farther east in the Fold Belt. It is unlikely that the similarity in dates is a coincidence. Settling in areas where there were abundant resources, such as along coasts and rivers . . . can be viewed as a kind of opportunistic sedentism. Long-term residential stability comes about when a groups mobility options are restricted due to the fact that there are too many other groups occupying the habitat (Hitchcock 1982, 231). This may well describe the process that took place along the southern Cape coast ca. 4,500 BP. It would explain the varied d15 N values of skeletons from Robberg/Plettenberg Bay older than 4,500 BPsome individuals relied intensively on marine protein foods, though others did notand the shift towards a more consistent pattern after 4,500 BP, when we see the emergence of exclusive territorial groups. This also implies that communities with less mobile lifestyles are likely to have been more widespread than we have yet been able to document directly; it is unlikely that settled communities existed in isolated pockets amongst more mobile neighbours. It is worth noting that the two most intensively studied areas (the Fish River Basin and Plettenberg Bay/Matjes River) have both yielded evidence for relatively settled communities in the Late Holocene. The archaeology of the adjacent areas is less well known (but see Binneman 1995), and we have yet to be able to reconstruct peoples lifestyles at this level of detail. The implications of this study clearly go far beyond the empirical demonstration of isotopic dietary differences. This is no more than a step towards the much larger goal of reconstructing Later Stone Age peoples lifeways in as many of their various forms as we can. Improving our knowledge and understanding of Holocene hunting and gathering societies is worthwhile for its own sake. It is also important for developing a reliable comparative baseline for studies farther back in the past. Some of the best evidence in the world for early modern humans comes from the southern Cape coast, from sites dated between about 200,000 and 40,000 years ago. Evaluation of these assemblages has depended critically on comparisons with

the Later Stone Age, often modelled after ethnographic descriptions of the Kalahari San. This paper and others cited above make it clear that such a generalized category may gloss over important differences, thus limiting its utility as a comparative tool. We need a better understanding of the range of variability within the Later Stone Age and of the factors that inuenced it. Ethnographic studies of recent hunter-gatherers are undoubtedly of value in this quest; the challenge lies in using those elements of the ethnographies that offer useful insights while at the same time developing reliable criteria for determining when things were different and understanding the implications of those differences.

This paper has developed over many years, and many people have contributed to the ideas and helped to rene the arguments advanced above. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Ray Inskeep, who rst suggested that I should carry out stable isotope analyses of the skeletons from Nelson Bay Cave but, sadly, did not live to see it come to fruition. I thank the curators of the physical anthropology collections at Iziko Museums of Cape Town, the Department of Human Biology at the University of Cape Town, the National Museum, Bloemfontein, and the Albany Museum, Grahamstown, for facilitating access. Geoff Bailey, Johan Binneman, Yvonne Brink, Janette Deacon, Simon Hall, Richard Klein, Ben Ludwig, Tim Maggs, Aron Mazel, Nicky Milner, Cecilene Muller, John Parkington, Susan Pfeiffer, Cedric Poggenpoel, Peter Rowley-Conwy, Carmel Schrire, Royden Yates, and many others have discussed these ideas with me, provided information, and made helpful suggestions. Simon Hall, in particular, pioneered many of the ideas explored here in his work in the Eastern Cape. Vic Cockroft of the Centre for Dolphin Studies and Ocean Safaris in Plettenberg Bay generously shared his knowledge of the Robberg seal colony. I am grateful to Graham Avery for suggesting that the lion scapula is in fact a seal scapula. Jon Erlandson, Simon Hall, Richard Klein, Tim Maggs, John Parkington, and Carmel Schrire made helpful comments on drafts of this paper. The work has been funded by the National Research Foundation of South Africa, the University of Cape Town, the Palaeoanthropology Scientic Trust, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation (small grant # 6257).

Mark Aldenderfer Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0030, U.S.A. ( 14 III 06 Although there is much of interest in this paper, I wish to explore two key themesthe limitations of the ethnographic

Sealy Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern in Holocene South Africa


record as applied to the archaeology of foraging peoples and the difculty of inferring salient aspects of social life from the often scant remains found at their sites. These are not new themes, but, as this paper shows, we still grapple with them. In the case of the former, ethnography still seems to have an undue inuence on our reconstructions, and for the latter it is clearer than ever that we still rely on the thinnest of empirical data to make broad generalizations about the social world of the past. I write this comment not as an expert on the archaeology of southern Africa but as an archaeologist of foraging peoples who is confronted daily with trying to develop a better understanding of the peoples about whom I do my research. As a product of the processual school of archaeology, I was taught to believe in the power of the ethnographic record as a source of insight, hypotheses, and middle-range theory. And while aware of the critiques of the use of ethnography from both processual (Wobst 1978) and postprocessual (Hodder 1986) perspectives, I nd myself continually diving into ethnographies of all kinds, perhaps less for conrmation and models than for inspiration about the lives of people and their material worlds and how a deeper understanding of the broader contexts of those lives might help me think more clearly about the past. Unless we give ourselves over to simple description for descriptions sake, I believe we will never give up ethnography. Should we do so, understanding the past would be more guesswork than either science or interpretation and our eld would be the worse for it. The importance of this paper is that it shows us that the real danger of ethnography is using it as a substitute for thinking about the past. Sealy makes a strong case that too many archaeologists working in the region have tried to shoehorn their data into the Kalahari model of mobile foragers. Indeed, as many observers have pointed out, the Kalahari pattern has become reied as the model of foraging peoples. The ethnographic record cannot, however, be dismissed too quickly. Given the results of the isotopic analysis of human bone, it seems apparent that two groups of foraging peoples lived in close proximity to each other at Robberg/Plettenberg Bay. From these data, Sealy infers a territorial boundary between them and notes that such a pattern contradicts the generally accepted reconstruction, based upon modern ethnography, of the foraging past in this region. Where I feel she may overstep the boundaries of her data, if you will, is in her assertion, based on Elizabeth Cashdans work, that the character of the Robberg Bay territory is one of perimeter defense. I agree that a territorial system is likely to have been in place, but I am not as certain as Sealy is that it was characterized by perimeter defense. While neighbors may have been excluded from the Robberg territory, inspection of gure 2 shows a set of burials from the two sites that have very similar d15 N values, implying that their diets were quite similar. What might explain this? One answer might be that the territorial boundary is being maintained not by overt defense but by reciprocal trade re-

lationships between individual members of the two groups. Some members of the Matjes River group received more marine resources from Robberg peoples than others through some form of exchange. In turn, some of the Robberg peoples may have consumed greater amounts of terrestrial resources through this process. Although Sealy is quick to deny that the ethnographically observed Kalahari social dynamic known as xaro could characterize a relationship between these groups, since one is sedentary and the other not, xaro, as Wiessner (2002, 412, 421) makes clear, is not just about land and water but also involves the balanced exchange of food and nonfood items that are used to cement social relationships. While this ancient relationship may not have been xaro, it has elements of it. My point in this is not to argue that xaro existed in the deep past but that Sealys data, as good as they are, are too thin to support a strong assertion that perimeter defense characterized the social dynamic between these groups. In this case, I think that the ethnographic data on xaro have been discarded too quickly and that a more nuanced use of the concept could have allowed Sealy to wonder less about what she saw as a problematic outcome of her discovery of territory at Robberg Bay: Any exchange relationships that existed must have been embedded in a different set of social practices. Maybe not. I see her data as consistent with a xaro-like dynamic, and it may be worth exploring this as other data sets are examined.

Lawrence Barham and Jessica Pearson School of Archaeology, Classics, and Egyptology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GS, UK (l.s.barham@liv. 20 III 06 The generalist forager model derived from the Kalahari has had an enduring impact on the archaeological imagination. Its early promise as an interpretive analogue has now outlived its usefulness as our awareness has grown of the diversity of huntergatherer societies that once existed, particularly in southern Africa. Sealy takes a clear stance from the outset that behavioural models originating from the semidesert interior should not be applied uncritically to coastal societies, and we welcome this challenge to the Kalahari orthodoxy. We question, however, aspects of her methodology and the use of dietary evidence alone to dene prehistoric social boundaries. The sample sizes from burials on the Robberg Peninsula and from Matjes River Rockshelter are large when taken as a group and well dated. The same cannot be said for the faunal samples from each area that provide the essential isotopic baseline values for interpreting the human data. The faunal isotope evidence from the peninsula is based on values for mussels from one excavation and seals and herbivores from another, whereas the Matjes River sample is derived from a small number of mussels (n p 9 ). Curiously, no attempt is made to analyse the remains of sh, which, we are told, made


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a signicant dietary contribution on the Robberg Peninsula. Sealy highlights the enriched d15 N values in humans from the peninsula dated between 4,500 and 2,000 BP, and these can be safely assumed to reect marine consumption, particularly that of high-trophic-level sh or mammals. Unfortunately, this is all that can be inferred from the data. We would have liked to see evidence of high d15 N values in these so-called carnivorous sh in order to conrm such assumptions, but these are not provided. Similar concerns about interpretation apply to the Matjes River data set. The human stable-isotope results do indeed indicate lower d15 N values compared with the peninsula, but the absence of coeval fauna isotope values other than from mussels limits the interpretation. We cannot rule out the possibility that the lower d15 N values at Matjes River reect the consumption of hightrophic-level marine sources less frequently than on the peninsula. The distance of Matjes River from the peninsula could account for a drop-off in frequency of seal consumption that has little to do with boundary formation. Without additional isotopic evidence from Matjes River of alternative protein sources such as coeval terrestrial fauna, we have difculty in accepting Sealys conclusion of a substantial dietary difference between these two localities. We also question the use of dietary regression formulae, which conate dietary homo-heterogeneity with isotopic homo-heterogeneity. A regression between two isotopically distinct end members does not necessarily equate with dietary homogeneity, and, more generally, the use of linear regression in this context is highly problematic (Philips and Koch 2002). Finally, a correlation between carbon and nitrogen isotope values is expected because of the smaller and less-well-studied phenomenon of magnication of the carbon trophic-level effect in a marine ecosystem. In short, we feel that Sealy does not convincingly demonstrate the distinctive isotopic community at Matjes River that would allow the inference of territoriality. Both data sets, as Sealy points out, reect long-term dietary strategies, but at issue is the extent to which they reect social boundaries reinforced by a possible natural barrier. Geographical features that isolate or restrict movement between populations can promote social and linguistic boundary formation. Foley (2004) observes that, as the variables of habitat differentiation and geographical isolation increase, so does the likelihood that identity-conscious social groups with clearly dened boundaries will emerge. In environments in which there are few differences in resource richness and low probabilities of geographical isolation, rates of cultural boundary formation will be low. The ethnographic record of historic hunter-gatherers in New Guinea illustrates the correlation between resource availability, demographic structure, and the complexity of visual art (Roscoe 2002). Groups which relied on the hunting of unpredictable terrestrial and arboreal game were typically highly mobile, had low population densities, were socially egalitarian, and had a ritual life with few forms of material expression. Coastal populations, with more

predictable marine resources, were sedentary, dense, and reliant on food storage and had social inequality and complex visual imagery. There are potential parallels that could be drawn with the ecological diversity of the southern Cape coast (including the Fold Mountain Belt), but a convincing case for social boundary formation along the Cape needs to integrate the material correlates of identity signalling with the dietary record. Sealy makes clear that this is a rst step towards reconstructing the diversity of lifeways that existed on the southern Cape coast, and she is to be congratulated for her innovative approach. We hope that the next stage in the project will be a comprehensive analysis of the full range of archaeological evidence that might reect social boundary formation coupled with a larger, representative isotopic data set.

Robert L. Kelly Department of Anthropology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071 ( 14 II 06 Sealy warns us in her concluding sentence that ethnographic studies of recent hunter-gatherers are undoubtedly of value [in studying the past]; the challenge lies in using those elements of the ethnographies that offer useful insights while at the same time developing reliable criteria for determining when things were different. The pattern that she recovers in the stable isotope data points to a settlement system that is quite un-Bushman-like; she presents this as evidence that ethnographic data should not be blindly applied to archaeological cases, especially very ancient ones. I thought we already knew this, but it is good to have some hard case studies that show us why we must avoid what Wobst called the tyranny of ethnography. And Sealys case study presents some intriguing grist for any mill designed to produce an understanding of hunter-gatherer sedentism. Since I am by no means an expert in either the archaeology of South Africa or stable isotope analysis, I will conne my remarks to the more general concepts and ideas. If I understand the prehistoric sequence, there appears to have been little dietary difference between the Matjes River Rockshelter and Robberg Peninsula populations at the time that the interior was depopulated, ca. 8,000 to 4,000 radiocarbon years BP. Once climatic conditions improved and people returned to the dry interior, the diets of the populations on the coast diverged, with those living on the Robberg Peninsula being more dependent on seals and those living near Matjes Rock Shelter being less so. This pattern changed again after 2,000 BP, when agriculture entered the subsistence picture. The contribution of seals to the diet became more variable after 2,000 BP on the Robberg Peninsula; the lack of skeletal data precludes much comparison with Matjes Rockshelter. The 4,500 BP dietary change is interesting in itself, but Sealy points out that the difference has the potential to shed light on the process of sedentarization and territorial constrictionprocesses that are critical to the evolution of

Sealy Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern in Holocene South Africa


various social and political behaviors, especially nonegalitarianism. Matjes River Rockshelter and Robberg Peninsula are within only a days walk of one another, and therefore the data suggest considerable territorial constriction from 4,500 to 2,000 BPunless, of course, we just happen to be looking at the frontier of two very large territories. This latter is unlikely because such territorial constriction appears to be happening all along South Africas southern coast at this time. The pattern is intriguing because we might expect the depopulation of the interior to have led to coastal emigration, subsequent population packing, and the appearance of territories prior to 4,500 BP. That this is not the case suggests that the 8,0004,000 BP depopulation was probably a decline in population density and not simply a geographic reshufing of populations. Conversely, climatic moderation after 4,000 BP may have caused population growth, with some populations moving into the interior as it became available but higher population densities and constrained territories along the coast. I think this is necessary to account for the approximately 120 burials at Matjes River, which must be a record for a rockshelter! The stable isotope pattern appears to be produced more by a shift in the Robberg Peninsula stable isotope distribution (toward more positive d15 N values) than by a simultaneous transition in the stable isotope distributions of both areas after 4,500 BP. This might suggest that it is the Robberg population that was territorially constrained, while those living near Matjes River may have been less so. This might make sense because the Robberg population would have been more geographically constrained, being on a peninsula. It would also make sense, then, that Nelson Bay Cave would have contained more deep-water sh later in this period. Differences in the local foraging environments may explain the differences in the isotope signatures, but the possibility remains that the Matjes River population had a larger territory, with more terrestrial resources at its disposal, than the Robberg population. These are only hypotheses, however, and I look forward to future work that elucidates the relationships between these two populations.

Curtis W. Marean Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, P.O. Box 872402, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2402, U.S.A. (curtis.marean@ 10 III 06 Sealys article continues a long tradition of excellent research on the archaeology of hunter-gatherers in southern Africa. There is little to nd fault with here, so in my comments I will simply raise some potential issues for further discussion and ask Sealy to comment on several queries that are raised by the empirical work and the interpretations. There are many things about this paper that warrant positive commentary.

For example, the integration of archaeological data with isotopic and physical anthropological work is notablehere in the United States we would refer to it as bioarchaeology, and this paper should become a well-read example in that body of research. The time is now upon us when the torch of hunter-gatherer studies is being passed from the cultural anthropologist to the archaeologist, and this work shows us that we still have much to learn about hunter-gatherer variability. The prehistoric record can provide the information if we approach it with high-quality method and theory. Sealy argues that coastal hunter-gatherers between the Robberg Peninsula and the Matjes River were likely more settled than previously thought and might have had rather strictly demarcated territorial boundaries. As she notes, if this is true, then we have learned something new and previously undocumented for southern African hunter-gatherers. One question I would like Sealy to explore more fully is how settled these people were. The shellsh isotope analysis she summarizes would suggest that people visited Nelson Bay Cave year-round, but it does not tell us that they had a residential site year-round and therefore restricted residential moves to a minimum. Nelson Bay Cave is not located either at the current Robberg colony or at the prehistorically projected colony at the tip of the peninsula. Hunting trips to either, with consequent transport of the seal body parts to Nelson Bay Cave, would not have been easy. I have visited these locations, and the current seal haul-up sits at the base of a steep cliff and would have required a very dangerous descent and ascent. If the tip of the point was being exploited, the trip would have required about an hour of rugged hiking made more difcult by a load of bloody seal. For Nelson Bay Cave, is Sealy suggesting a reasonably permanent settlement complete with logistical forays to the point for seal hunting? This leads to another question that targets some issues Sealy raises about how the isotopic signal is passed to the bones and the nutritional value of edible tissue from seals. Most seals concentrate body fat in the blubber layer, and the esh tends to be extremely lean. The result is that people and predators tend to focus on the blubber and eschew the meat (see Marean 1986). Would a focus on fat versus meat of seals impact the resulting isotopic signal in any way? Sealy notes that there is often a lack of t between isotopically derived diets and dietary evidence derived from the archaeological record. This is particularly true when we compare the zooarchaeological records with the isotopically reconstructed diets. For example, Neanderthal zooarchaeological assemblages in France (dominated by caves and rockshelters) rarely show any mammoth and woolly rhino (Mellars 1996), while recent isotopic results on Neanderthals suggest a focus on both (Bocherens et al. 2005). Again, in the Nelson Bay Cave faunal assemblage, the Wilton layers have signicant seal remains but also signicant numbers of Raphicerus, while in the later Albany layers Raphicerus remains exceed those of seal. Sealy notes that this lack of correspon-


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dence is often at least partly the result of poor temporal and/ or geographical t between the material used in the isotopic analyses and the excavated food waste. I suggest that the major reason for a lack of t is that zooarchaeological species abundance is less a reection of consumption rates and than of transport decisions mediated by body size (Marean 2005). If we examine the completeness of transport by Hadza, we nd that body size is the prime determinantthe larger the animal, the less likely it is to be transported. Thus, to the zooarchaeologist smaller-sized animals appear more important in the diet than they actually were. Raphicerus is well within the size of animals that are nearly always transported whole. Adult seals are not, and this ltering effect on seal transport would have been amplied if the hunter-gatherers were focusing on their fat (which is easily separated from their torso) as opposed to their meat. The lack of marrow cavities in the bones of seals would have further reduced the incentive for transport. Zooarchaeologists have not yet fully digested the implications of this pattern. Because species abundance of large mammals in archaeological sites reects not predation rates but transport rates, the isotopic record is inherently more difcult to interpret as a signal of diet and raises the possibility of some radical revisions of our views on past hunter-gatherer diet.

Lyn Wadley Archaeology Department, School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, PO WITS 2050, South Africa (wadleyl@ 20 III 06 Sealys careful research and well-thought-out conclusions will have considerable impact on future interpretations of Later Stone Age archaeological sequences in southern Africa. The uncritical use of ethnographic analogy to interpret the archaeological record has been censured for many years, so it is no surprise that her tests provide more proof that ethnography has been misread by archaeologists. Her isotope analysis implies that at least two groups of hunter-gatherers along the southern coast of the Western Cape were socially exclusive. The general expectation that hunter-gatherer behavior is socially inclusive and even homogeneous is an oversimplied reading of the ethnography. Sealys ndings may shake archaeologists convictions, but ethnographers are more likely to feel vindicated by her work. Great social diversity is recorded among Khoisan hunter-gatherers of southern and central Africa (Barnard 1992; Kent 1996), and this diversity needs to be accorded greater recognition by the archaeologists who use ethnography for model building. It is to be hoped that Sealy will someday conduct isotope analyses on inland skeletons to see whether economically disparate groups occurred there, too. In the last 4,000 years, inland hunter-gatherers began economic intensication that included the consumption of freshwater molluscs, crabs, and freshwater sh (J. Dea-

con 1984; Hall 1990). Isotopic signatures might detect this dietary change through time. Sealy suggests that two clearly differentiated social groups living in close proximity to each other might have expressed group afliation through styles of artefact manufacture and use. I agree, but I suggest that lithic artefacts may be less useful social markers than artefacts such as personal ornaments, art, or grave goods. As Shea (2006) and Dibble and Rolland (1992) have shown, the appearance of a stone tool can change considerably during its life cycle, and therefore so-called stylistic traits in stone tools may be misleading. Ornaments made of seashell might be particularly useful for the expression of group or individual identity, and there is potential here not only for tracing regional styles of ornaments but also for tracking exchange routes across the landscape. At Border Cave, for example, about 90 km from the coast, a Conus shell was found buried with an infant (Beaumont 1978), and ostrich-eggshell beads have wide archaeological distribution in time and across space and seem to occur even in areas where ostriches are not known to have lived. Sealys work suggests that coastal peoples did not travel much, and it will be signicant to discover whether the same pattern occurs among inland peoples. The archaeology suggests otherwise, but, as Sealy herself points out, isotope data and archaeological evidence are sometimes at odds. Ouzman and Wadley (1997), for example, report a painting of mormyrid sh at Rose Cottage Cave, Free State, South Africa. Such sh do not occur within 300 km of Rose Cottage today, and no sh bones of mormyrid occur in the cave (van Niekerk 2002). The disjunction between ethnographically recorded Kalahari hunter-gatherer burial practices and Stone Age burial practices recorded by archaeologists has long been known (Inskeep 1986; Wadley 1997). Modern hunter-gatherer burial practices in the Kalahari appear to be far less complex than Later Stone Age burial practices. The greatest complexity in burial practices seems to have been more recently than 6,000 years ago in the coastal regions of the Eastern and Western Cape. Here a wide range of grave goods is evident, although some burials, for example, at Faraoskop (Jerardino et al. 1992), lack grave goods altogether. Many South African interior Later Stone Age burial sites also lack grave goods or contain few of them (Wadley 1997). The differences may well reect cultural differences among groups that were divided by territorial boundaries (see Hall and Binneman 1987). The presence or absence of grave goods might depend, in part, on different inheritance rules among cultural groups. Among the most celebrated of the South African grave goods are rare examples of art mobilier found in sites such as Coldstream, Tsitsikama, Whitchers Cave, Spitskop, Roodekrans, Matjes River, and Robberg (Hoffman 1958; Rudner 1971). Not all such art was designed to be buried with the dead. Painted stones such as those at Boomplaas Cave are associated not with burials but with pits, some of which appear to have been storage pits (Deacon, Deacon, and Brooker

Sealy Diet, Mobility, and Settlement Pattern in Holocene South Africa


1976; H. Deacon 1995). The storage pits found at several Later Stone Age sites were generally used to store items that were not important food sources. The Pappea capensis seeds stored at Eastern Cape inland sites (Deacon, Deacon, and Brooker 1976; Hall 1990), for example, are far more likely to have been used for cosmetic purposes or for softening leather than as an oil-rich food source. Regional differences in the content and contexts of the painted stones might be a protable adjunct to Sealys isotope work. I look forward to the next phase of Sealys isotope work, and I also await with interest the new research that will be stimulated by her challenge to archaeologists.

I thank all the commentators for taking the time and trouble to write responses and for the insights they offer. Some comments are concerned specically with stable isotope measurements and their interpretation while others relate to broader issues such as the interpretation of archaeological residues, demography, and social organization. I will address the various points in the order in which they appear above. Aldenderfer notes that some individuals from Robberg/ Plettenberg Bay and Matjes River Rock Shelter have similar isotopic values and asks what might explain this. The overlap results from considerable interindividual variation in isotopic ratios among skeletons from Robberg/Plettenberg Bay: while many have very enriched isotope values, others are less enriched, more like individuals buried at Matjes River (and, indeed, elsewhere along the southern coast [see Sealy and Pfeiffer 2000]). It would be fascinating to explore the possible reasons for this variability: for example, could these individuals have married in? I hope to address this in future isotopic work. I do not see, however, that the overlap is likely to have resulted from reciprocal trade relationships between the two groups as Aldenderfer suggests. Most items of diet were common to the two areas: shellsh, most species of sh, terrestrial game animals. In addition, Robberg offered special opportunities in the form of access to marine mammals and deepwater shbut it is the consumption of these items by people buried at Robberg/Plettenberg Bay that gives rise to the pattern of different d15 N values for skeletons from the two areas. I do not argue that one group was sedentary and the other not; in the later part of the paper I discuss the likelihood of reduced mobilitys having become a general pattern across the southern Cape in the late Holocene. On the question of xaro, this type of exchange excludes food items (Wiessner 1982, 1994). The central issue is, however, that xaro is a way of coping with unpredictable resources and therefore necessarily involves reciprocal residential rights. This is inconsistent with

the pattern of long-term dietary isotopic differences reported above. Barham and Pearson argue that the small numbers of faunal isotopic analyses presented in the paper are inadequate to support the conclusions drawn. I should have made it clearer that the measurements of animals are not intended to characterize the isotopic ecology of the southern Cape foodweb. Rather, they conrm that the isotopic ecology of the southern Cape holds no surprises. As one would expect for a relatively high-rainfall area, d15 N values are low in terrestrial animals, and in the marine system they follow the patterns that have been well documented in nearshore foodwebs at mid-latitudes. Analysis of species near the bottom (mussels) and the top (seals) of the foodweb show that d15 N values are just like those previously documented in a much wider range of marine foods from the ocean near Cape Town and along the south-western Cape coast (Sealy et al. 1987). High d15 N values in carnivorous sh (not well represented in the earlier study) are conrmed by the result of 13.7 0.6 for ve modern yellowtail sh. Barham and Pearson note that lower d15 N values for skeletons from Matjes River Rock Shelter could reect the consumption of some high-trophic-level marine resources but less frequently than at Robberg/Plettenberg Bay. This is quite true. The point is that there is a signicant difference. This is perhaps clearer if one compares the results presented in this paper with the similar data set from the south-western coast of South Africa (Sealy et al. 1987; Sealy and van der Merwe 1988). Along the west coast, there is also considerable variation in the extent to which different individuals consumed marine foods, including high-trophic-level items. There is, however, no apparent geographical patterning (although we should bear in mind that the west coast sample did not have such large numbers of individuals from each location as I report above). The existence of a statistically signicant difference in d15 N between skeletons buried at Robberg/Plettenberg Bay and at Matjes River Rock Shelter undoubtedly reects a dietary difference between the two groups. I am not sure why Barham and Pearson question the use of dietary regression formulae, which conate dietary homoheterogeneity with isotopic homo-heterogeneity. This study does not use dietary regression formulae, which I, too, consider inappropriate for complex mixed diets such as those eaten by humans. Regression of d15 N on d13 C , as done here, is simply a tool (widely used in ecology) for exploring the observed isotopic patterning. Kelly makes the excellent point that one might expect the depopulation of the interior between 8,000 and 4,000 BP to have led to population increase along the coast, accompanied by the emergence of territoriality prior to 4,500 BP. The fact that this does not appear to have happened is indeed consistent with a lowering of overall population during the midHolocene rather than peoples redistributing themselves across the landscape. Exploring the connections between this phenomenon and the emergence of the widespread, highly


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standardized, microlithic Wilton stone-artefact-making tradition between 8,000 and 7,000 BP might be a fruitful avenue for further research. As Marean points out, how settled these groups wereor, put another way, how large their territories were in relation to the size of the groupis clearly a key question. The data available thus far are inadequate for us to distinguish between permanent settlement at Robberg/Plettenberg Bay and intermittent visits to the site at many different times of year. As one moves westward from Robberg/Plettenberg Bay, the next major landscape feature along the coast is the Knysna Lagoon, about 40 km away. Could this also have marked a territorial boundary? Unfortunately, we do not have a sufciently large number of skeletons to permit an isotopic comparison of those from the two sides of the Knysna Lagoon. The question of whether people were eating meat or fat from seals is an important one. Fat contains negligible quantities of nitrogen, so fat consumption is invisible in bone collagen d15 N values. Elevated bone collagen d15 N can only derive from 15 N-enriched protein foods such as seal meat. People probably ate both seal meat and fat. Even so, large seals would have been extremely cumbersome to transport and would very likely have been butchered at or near the kill site, with heavy, inedible parts being left behind. A detailed analysis of seal body part representation at Nelson Bay Cave has never been published but would be very valuable. Barham and Pearson and Wadley all comment that the isotopic study presented here needs to be integrated with a search for identity markers in the excavated archaeological assemblages. I fully agree with this, and work is in progress. Recognition of ethnic boundaries is difcult in Palaeolithic archaeology (Jones 1997) because one rarely has rm grounds for assessing whether observed differences in artefactual assemblages arise from ethnic differentiation or other causes and it is easy to fall into the trap of circular reasoning. The isotopic differences demonstrated in this study provide an unusually secure starting point for such investigations. Wadley suggests that identity signalling, if this occurred, is more likely to have been expressed through ornaments than through lithic artifacts. Work completed to date does indeed show interesting differences in marine shell pendants from the two sites and also in some categories of stone artefacts. Elsewhere in South Africa, lithic differences have been interpreted as markers of social or linguistic boundaries (e.g., H. J. Deacon 1976; Mazel 1989a, b). I entirely agree with Wadleys comment that differences in burial practices, grave goods, and especially the distribution and context of painted stones might also be useful ways of investigating social groups on the landscape. The major difculty here is the lack of good-quality archaeological observations. The scarcity of archaeologists in South Africa means that only a few sites have been properly excavated and documented, and we urgently need more eldwork, especially in coastal sites threatened by development. Wadley reminds us that there is evidence for long-distance travel in the archaeological record, as shown by the rock

painting of mormyrid sh at Rose Cottage Cave. Like nearly all parietal art in southern Africa, this painting is undated, so we do not know how it relates to the temporal changes in settlement pattern suggested above. I agree, however, that there must have been interaction between different groups of hunter-gatherers in the past across substantial distances. The widespread distribution of stone-artefact-making traditions, including the Wilton, is surely conrmation of this. But such linkages appear to be only one level of what is emerging as a much more complex, multilayered fabric of social relationships in which different components do not necessarily change synchronously. Unraveling this complexity is the real challenge for the future. Judith Sealy

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