Deposition and Diagenesis in the Earlier Stone Age of Wonderwerk Cave, Excavation 1, South Africa
The Earlier Stone Age (ESA) sequence of Excavation 1 at Wonderwerk Cave is the longest stratified sedimentary sequence associated with hominin occupation in Southern Africa. This sequence has been constrained chronologically on the basis of cosmogenic burial age and paleomagnetic dating. Geoarchaeological analysis of two exposed profiles covering strata 12-9 that combine micromorphology and FTIR on the ESA deposits shows shifts in depositional sources, transport, and diagenesis. This analysis provides insight into the paleoenvironmental context of hominin occupation and suggests that during part of the stratigraphic sequence, there was an ephemeral body of water in proximity to the cave. These results provide the basis for ongoing geoarchaeological research on the landscape outside the cave and other components of the cave deposits.