Revisiting the Holocene occupations at Grassridge Rockshelter, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Grassridge Rockshelter is a multicomponent Pleistocene and Holocene archaeological site located in the interior of the Eastern Cape of South Africa, and was originally studied during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Grassridge Archaeological and Palaeoenvironmental Project (GAPP) initiated new research at Grassridge in 2014, and here we present an overview of our initial excavations and research, with a focus on the Holocene occupations. Preliminary results indicate a more complex occupational and depositional history than previously thought. In addition to relocating the known mid-Holocene occupation , we have identified a previously unrecorded early Holocene occupation , which dates to the end of the Younger Dryas, and a thin flowstone located at the contact between the Holocene and Pleistocene deposits. The Holocene lithic assemblages are characterised by flake-based lithic reduction, primarily on hornfels, with an increase in the frequency and diversity of retouched pieces from the early to mid-Holocene. Ostrich eggshell beads are ubiquitous during both Holocene occupations, and marine shells have also been discovered. The latter are reported from Grassridge for the first time, and indicate a connection with the coast.