Soutfontein (SFT)-001: Preliminary report on an open-air bifacial point-rich site in southern Namaqualand, South Africa



Publication Details

Mackay, A., Orton, J., Schwortz, S. & Steele, T. E. (2010). Soutfontein (SFT)-001: Preliminary report on an open-air bifacial point-rich site in southern Namaqualand, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin, 65 (191), 84-95.


This paper presents the preliminary results of an analysis of bifacially-worked artefacts from Soutfontein (SFT)-001, an open site in the Knersvlakte region of southern Namaqualand, South Africa. For over a century, finely-worked bifacial points have been known to occur throughout southern Africa (e.g. Lubbock 1869; Johnson 1907a,b). Such artefacts were first recognized in open-air contexts around Cape Town and in dune field sites such as Kleinjongensfontein and Blombos Sands (Minichillo 2005), and were subsequently noted in shelter sites from Namibia to Zimbabwe and from the Cape to KwaZulu-Natal (Peers 1927, 1929; Armstrong 1931; Jones 1949; Malan 1955; Wendt 1976; Kaplan 1990; Evans 1994; Vogelsang 1998). In recent history the focus of attention has been strongly directed towards assemblages of bifacial points recovered from stratified shelter contexts (e.g. Henshilwood et al. 2001; Rigaud et al. 2006; Jacobs et al. 2008; Wadley 2007; Villa et al. 2009). This focus has largely resulted from the need to resolve outstanding issues concerning the relative position of bifacial point-bearing assemblages in southern Africa’s cultural stratigraphy and more recently to provide chronometric ages for their occurrence. The results of this research have been highly rewarding, with bifacial point-bearing assemblages having been dated to various periods in Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 5, 4, and 3 (Villa et al. 2005; Beaumont & Vogel 2006; Jacobs et al. 2008; Tribolo et al. 2009). While the production of bifacial points appears to peak in association with the Still Bay industry in which they are the dominant implement form, such artefacts are not restricted to that industry and occur both earlier and later. Figure 1 shows the distribution of southern African sites from which large assemblages of bifacial points have been recovered.

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