Publication Details

Orton, J., Klein, R. G., Mackay, A., Schwortz, S. & Steele, T. E. (2011). Two Holocene rock shelter deposits from the Knersvlakte, southern Namaqualand, South Africa. Southern African Humanities, 23 109-150.


This paper describes the first excavations into two Holocene Later Stone Age (LSA) deposits in southern Namaqualand. The limestone shelters afforded excellent preservation, and the LSA sites contained material similar in many respects to shelters in the Cederberg range to the south. Deposition at both sites was discontinuous with a mid-Holocene pulse in Buzz Shelter followed by contact-period deposits over a total depth of some 0.45 m. In Reception Shelter the 1.40 m deposit yielded a basal age in the fifth to eighth centuries BC with pottery and domestic cow contained within a strong pulse of occupation just above this. The deposit then reflects another significant pulse in the terminal Holocene. A basal age of c. 24 000 BC suggests Pleistocene occupation of the area. Significant observations at both sites are that ostrich eggshell beads remain relatively small throughout, although those at Reception Shelter are somewhat larger, and that the typical prehistoric signature continued right through the contact period. Artefacts ascribed to a late Holocene industry so far only recognised on coastal sites were also found. KEY WORDS: Holocene, Namaqualand, Later Stone Age, bedding and ash, contact period, stone artefacts, beads, organic artefacts.