Title

Cave life histories of non-Anthropogenic sediments help us understand associated archaeological contexts

Publication Name

Quaternary Research (United States)

Abstract

Pinnacle Point (PP) near Mossel Bay in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, is known for a series of archaeological caves with important archaeological finds. Extensive excavations and studies in two of them (PP13B and PP5-6) have documented alternating periods of anthropogenic-dominated and geogenic-dominated sedimentation. A variety of caves do not bear evidence of anthropogenic remains. We have studied in detail the remnant deposits of three of them, Staircase Cave, Crevice Cave, and PP29, which have been formed under the same geologic and sedimentary conditions with those with anthropogenic contributions. Their remains are small and patchy but have extensive speleothem formations (as do most caves at PP) that were isotopically analyzed for paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental reconstruction. These caves also offer the opportunity to understand the purely geogenic signature of the PP locality and thus offer a geogenic baseline for the anthropogenic caves. Archaeologists normally focus only on sites with strong anthropogenic signals, but by building cave life histories we raise the bar (Goldberg 2008, p. 30) on our contextual knowledge.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Volume

99

First Page

270

Last Page

289

Funding Number

238512

Funding Sponsor

National Science Foundation

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Link to publisher version (DOI)

http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/qua.2020.72