The stratigraphy of the Middle Stone Age sediments at Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (Mossel Bay, Western Cape Province, South Africa)
Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (PP13B) has provided the earliest archaeological evidence for the exploitation of marine shellfish, along with very early evidence for use and modification of pigments and the production of bladelets, all dated to approximately 164 ka (Marean et al., 2007). This makes PP13B a key site in studies of the origins of modern humans, one of a handful of sites in Africa dating to Marine Isotope Stage 6 (MIS 6), and the only site on the coast of South Africa with human occupation confidently dated to MIS 6. Along with this MIS 6 occupation there are rich archaeological sediments dated to MIS 5, and together these sediments are differentially preserved in three different areas of the cave. The sediments represent a complex palimpsest of geogenic, biogenic, and anthropogenic input and alteration that are described and interpreted through the use of a variety of macrostratigraphic, micromorphologic, and geochemical techniques. Three independent dating techniques allow us to constrain the age range of these sediments and together provide the stratigraphic context for the analyses of the material that follow in this special issue.