Potentially stylistic differences between backed artefacts from two nearby sites occupied ~60 000 years before present in South Africa
Archaeologists are commonly interested in material signatures that can be used to identify past population groups. In the Palaeolithic such population groups are often identified at large spatial scales, yet the material expressions of smaller groups comparable to those documented ethnographically have proved more difficult to isolate. The present paper considers differences in silcrete backed artefacts recovered from two nearby sites. These sites, both of which were occupied during the Howiesons Poort period, are situated in different ecological contexts with variable access to stone resources. Site context does not, however, explain observed differences in technology, nor do potential differences in tool function. Variation is instead inferred to be stylistic, or at least to be adaptively neutral. The results imply occupation of the study area by two different groups maintaining different technological traditions some time around 60,000 years before present.