Viola C. Schmid
The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans
Abteilung für Ältere Urgeschichte und Quartärökologie
Universität Tübingen, Schloss Hohentübingen
Burgsteige 22, Raum 115
- Middle Stone Age
- Afrikanische Archäologie
- Menschliche Evolution
2005 - 2008: Studentin prähistorischer Archäologie am Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte der Universität Wien
April 2008 - August 2013: Studentin paläolithischer Archäologie in der Abteilung für Ältere Urgeschichte und Quartärökologie am Institut für Ur- & Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters der Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
August 2013: Abschluss Magistra atrium (Titel der Magisterarbeit: „A technological revision of the „MSA 1” at Elands Bay Cave (Western Cape Province, South Africa)”; die Magisterarbeit wurde als Teil des DFG-Project „The lithic technology of the Early Middle Stone Age in southern Africa“ durchgeführt.)
seit Dezember 2013: Doktorandin in der Abteilung für Ältere Urgeschichte und Quartärökologie am Institut für Ur- & Früh-geschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters der Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen (vorläufiger Titel der Doktorarbeit: „Bifacial Technology and the technical lithic system of the lower deposits in Sibudu Cave (KwaZulu Natal, South Africa)”)
seit Oktober 2015: Projektmiglied im Promotionsverbund „The Evolution of Cultural Modernity (ECM)“ Homepage
Praktika und berufliche Erfahrungen
2006: Angestellte für die digitale Aufnahme der Studiensammlung am Institut für Ur- & Frühgeschichte der Universität Wien
2008 - 2011: Studentische Hilfskraft für die Analyse der aurignacienzeitlichen Steinartefakte der Fundstelle Geißenklösterle am Institut für Ur- & Frühgeschichte und
Archäologie des Mittelalters der Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
2008 - 2009: Angestellte für die Aufnahme und Bestimmung der Hornstein- und Quarzgeräte aus der Repolusthöhle am Landemuseum Joanneum, Graz, Österreich
2009 - 2010: Studentische Hilfskraft für das Jebel Faya-Projekt am Institut für Ur- & Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters der Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
2009 - 2010: Museumsführerin für die große Landesausstellung "Eiszeit - Kunst und Kultur" im Stuttgarter Kunstgebäude, Archäologisches Landesmuseum Baden-Württemberg
2009 - 2010: Studentische Hilfskraft im Willendorf-Projekt am Max-Planck-Institute für Evolutionäre Anthropologie, Leipzig
2011 - 2012: Studentische Hilfskraft im DFG-Projekt „The lithic technology of the Early Middle Stone Age in southern Africa“
2014 - 2015: Angestellte im ROCEEH-Project
- Porraz, G., Schmid, V.C., Miller, C.E., Tribolo, C., Cartwright, C.C., Charrié-Duhaut, A., Igreja, M., Mentzer, S., Mercier, N., Schmidt, P., Conard, N.J., Texier, P.-J. & Parkington, F.E. (2016): Update on the 2011 excavation at Elands Bay Cave (South Africa) and the Verlorenvlei Stone Age. Southern African Humanities 29, 33-68.
- Schmid, V.C., Conard, N.J., Parkington, J.E., Texier, P.-J. & Porraz, G. (2016): The ‘MSA 1’ of Elands Bay Cave (South Africa) in the context of the southern African Early MSA technologies. Southern African Humanities 29, 153-201.
- Conard, N.J., Schmid, V.C. & Will, M. (2015): Sibudu und die kulturelle Evolution des modernen Menschen, Archäologie in Deutschland 31, 12-17.
- Porraz, G., Val, A., Dayet, L., de la Peña, P., Douze, K., Miller, C. E., Murungi, M., Tribolo, C., Schmid, V.C., Sievers, C. (2015): Bushman Rock Shelter (Limpopo, South Africa): a perspective from the edge of the Highveld. South African Archaeological Bulletin 70, 166-179.
- Schmid, V.C., Porraz, G., Rots, V., Zeidi, M. & Conard, N.J. (2015): Bifacial serrated technology in the southern African Still Bay: new data from Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal. Podium Presentation at ESHE: Session 3B, Th (15:20); [Abstract].
- Conard, N.J., Bader, G.D., Schmid, V.C. & Will, M. (2014): Bringing the Middle Stone Age into clearer focus. Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Ur- & Frühgeschichte 23, 121-128.
- Schmid, V.C. & Nigst P.-R. (2014): Die Steinartfakte der Repolusthöhle (Steiermark, Österreich). Schild von Steier 26, 98-164.
- Conard, N.J., Schmid, V.C. & Zeidi, M. (2013): Bifacial technology at Sibudu and its implications for our understanding of the Still Bay. Podium Presentation at ESHE: Session 10, Sa (13:20); [Abstract].
- Schmid, V.C., Parkington, J., Conard, N.J., Texier, P.-J. & Porraz, G. (2012): A revision of the southern African “MSA 1” based on new excavations at Elands Bay Cave (South Africa). Poster Presentation at ESHE; [Abstract].
Poster und Präsentationen
April 2010: The Early Middle Stone Age technology at Elands Bay Cave (Western Cape Province, South Africa): central issues and preliminary observations” at the Meeting of the Hugo Obermaier-Gesellschaft in Leipzig, Germany (oral)
April 2012: „Building a sequence: Elands Bay Cave in the Middle Stone Age of Southern Africa” at the Meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society in Memphis/Tennessee, USA (oral)
September 2012: „A revision of the southern African “MSA 1” based on new excavations at Elands Bay Cave (South Africa)” at the Meeting of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution in Bordeaux/France (poster)
September 2013: „Bifacial technology at Sibudu and its implications for our understanding of the Still Bay” (Second Author) at the Meeting of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution in Wien, Austria (oral)
July 2014: „Characterising the Early Middle Stone Age of Elands Bay Cave (Western Cape Province, South Africa)” at the Congress of the Pan African Archaeological Association for Prehistory and Related Studies in Johannesburg, South Africa (oral)
September 2014: „Characterizing the stratigraphy of bifacial technology in the assemblages from the Deep Sounding at Sibudu Cave, in KwaZulu-Natal” (Second Author) at the 17th Congress of the International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences in Burgos, Spain (oral)
September 2014: „Introduction to Bushman Rock Shelter in South Africa” (Last Author) at the 17th Congress of the International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences in Burgos, Spain (oral)
September 2014: „The significance of the technological sequence at Elands Bay Cave for the MSA of the West Coast, South Africa” at the international workshop “Contextualizing technological change and cultural evolution in the MSA of southern Africa” in Tübingen, Germany (oral)
April 2015: „Sibudu – Cultural Heritage & a site of great significance for the understanding of Human Evolution” at Pelham Middle School in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (oral)
July 2015: „Characterizing the basal lithic assemblages from deep sounding of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa” at the Biennial Conference of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) in Harare, Zimbabwe (oral)
July 2015: „New excavations of the Later and Middle Stone Age layers at Bushman Rock Shelter, Limpopo Province, South Africa” (17th Author) at the Biennial Conference of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) in Harare, Zimbabwe (oral)
July 2015: „Innovative expressions before the supposed rise of the Still Bay - Evidence from Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa” at the international conference “Expansions 2015” organised by the Role of Culture in the Early Expansions of Humans (ROCEEH) in Frankfurt am Main, Germany (poster)
September 2015: „Bifacial serrated technology in the southern African Still Bay: new data from Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal” at the Meeting of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution (ESHE) in London, United Kingdom (oral)
May 2016: „The MSA of southern Africa: a view from open air and cave sites” at the International workshop “Current research in the MSA – New perspectives on the archaeology of Halibee (Ethiopia)” in Tübingen, Germany (Third Author) (oral)
June 2016: „“28” at Bushman Rock Shelter, Limpopo (South Africa)” at the 23rd biennial Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) in Toulouse, France (13th Author) (oral)
June 2016: „Bifacial technologies and the definition of the Still Bay: new data from the basal layers of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal” at the 23rd biennial Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) in Toulouse, France (oral)
June 2016: „Implications of Spatial and Temporal Variation in Point Technology in Kwazulu-Natal during the MSA” at the 23rd biennial Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) in Toulouse, France (poster)
September 2016: „Variability in use and hafting of points and pointed tools at Sibudu Cave: results of independent wear and residue analyses” at the Meeting of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution (ESHE) in Madrid, Spain (Third Author) (oral)
Grabungserfahrung – Paläolithikum
- Grub/Kranawetberg, Niederösterreich (geleitet von W. Antl-Weiser)
- Krems/Wachtberg, Niederösterreich (geleitet von Ch. Neugebauer-Maresch)
- Willendorf II, Niederösterreich (geleitet von Ph. R. Nigst, Th. B. Viola & G. Trnka)
- Germolles, Burgund (geleitet von H. Floss)
- Les Cottés, Vienne (geleitet von M. Soressi)
- Prés de Laure, , Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (geleitet von G. Porraz & A. Tomasso)
- Hohle Fels, Baden-Württemberg (geleitet von N.J. Conard)
- Schöningen, Niedersachsen (geleitet von J. Serangeli)
- Vogelherd, Baden-Württemberg (geleitet von N.J. Conard)
- Riparo Tagliente (geleitet von A. Guerreschi & F. Fontana)
- Tvarozna (geleitet von G. Tostevin & P. Skrdla)
- Beregovo (geleitet von Ph. R. Nigst, L. Kulakovska & V. Usik)
- Korolevo, Oblast Transkarpatien (geleitet von Ph. R. Nigst, V. Usik& L. Kulakovska)
Vereinigte Arabische Emirate
- Jebel Faya NE-1 (geleitet von H.-P. Uerpmann)
- Bushman Rock Shelter, (geleitet von G. Porraz & A. Val)
- Diepkloof, Western Cape Province (geleitet von P.-J. Texier)
- Elandsbay Cave, Western Cape Province (geleitet von G. Porraz & J. Parkington)
- Hoedjiespunt, Western Cape Province (geleitet von N.J. Conard)
- Sibudu, KwaZulu Natal (geleitet von N. J. Conard)
Preise und Förderungen
September 2013: Grant for the international workshop “Mapping the origins of modern behaviour” in Clanwilliam, South Africa, by the Universitätsbund, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen
March 2014: Conference sponsorship prize of postgraduate students for the participation at the 14th Congress of the Pan African Archaeological Association for Prehistory and Related Studies und the 22nd Meeting of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists in Johannesburg, South Africa by the Pan African Archaeological Association for Prehistory and Related Studies
April 2015: Grant for the Biennial Conference of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) in Harare, Zimbabwe, by the Universitätsbund, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen
May 2015: Part Funding for the Biennial Conference of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) in Harare, Zimbabwe, by the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists
June 2015: Conference funding for the Biennial Conference of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) in Harare, Zimbabwe, by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
Winter Semester 2014/2015: Lecture/Exercise „Modul 14-2d: Ausgewählte Themen der Artefaktanalyse am Beispiel der paläolithischen Fundstelle Vogelherd“ am Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Winter Semester 2015/2016: Lecture/Exercise „Modul 14-2d: Praktische und methodische Ansätze zur Auswertung von lithischen Artefakten“ am Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Winter Semester 2015/2016: Seminar „Modul 14-2a / Modul 4-2: Das Middle Stone Age in Afrika” am Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Winter Semester 2016/2017: Lecture/Exercise „Modul 14-2d: Praktische und methodische Ansätze zur Auswertung von lithischen Artefakten“am Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Bifacial Technology and the technical lithic system of the lower deposits in Sibudu Cave (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)Abstract and research design
Abstract and research design
The Middle Stone Age (MSA) of Southern Africa presents a crucial episode in the history of mankind. The fossil record and genetic studies point out that anatomically modern human evolved during this time period. Moreover, Stone Age archaeology highlights the appearance of distinct innovations within the material culture repertoire linked to “behavioural modernity”. The two sub-stages of the MSA, Howiesons Poort and Still Bay, appear to be particularly innovative periods which have led researchers to put strong emphasis on their investigation over the last two decades. These two sub-stages are considered as short-lived and definite cultural markers. The Howiesons Poort is characterised by blade production and manufacture of backed tools from raw materials of good knapping suitability as well as production of bone tools, engraved ostrich eggshells and the transformation of ochre. The Still Bay features objects of symbolic expression, such as engraved ochre and shell beads, the creation of compound adhesives for hafting, and the production of bone implements. But the most diagnostic characteristic of the Still Bay is its bifacial technology, partially produced by pressure-flaking and heat-treatment that was used to improve the knapping properties of the raw materials. All of these features are proxies for change in technology, economy and social organisation.
A perfect framework for studying these socio-economic changes is the site of Sibudu Cave which contains a long chrono-cultural sequence from the so-called pre-Still Bay to the final MSA. However, the excavations of the deposits that underlie the Still Bay layers at Sibudu Cave revealed indications of significant innovations before the appearance of the Still Bay, including amongst other things bifacial technology. Since the presence of bifacial technology is the fossil directeur of the Still Bay industry, the occurrence of this technology in earlier phases challenges the integrity of the Still Bay as a well defined and homogeneous techno-complex. At the site of Blombos, only the uppermost stratigraphic phase M1 was originally assigned to the Still Bay. However, the upper part of the underlying stratigraphic complex M2 yielded bifacial points as well and therefore was later included despite differing in aspects concerning raw material composition and reduction sequence. For another similarly dated site, Diepkloof Rock Shelter, it was suggested based on the technological revision of the MSA sequence that the Still Bay should be rejected as horizon marker. Their comparison with other Still Bay assemblages demonstrated that the sites referred to as Still Bay neither date in a narrow range nor exhibit great similarities. The analysis of the lithics from Sibudu Cave can contribute to testing whether the Still Bay may be sustained as an independent cultural horizon or not. This approach will rely on gathering information about the temporal and spatial variability of bifacial technology and the associated lithic technical system. These findings will have implications for models concerning the appearance of innovations that are linked to “behavioural modernity”.
I will investigate an assemblage from the basal deposits of Sibudu Cave. By conducting a technological analysis, I will give a detailed description and highlight the distinctive characteristics of the lithic technology of this assemblage. Although my main research subject concerns aspects of lithic technology, I will include data provided from experts of other fields, including use-wear analysis, residue analysis, archaeozoology and micromorphology, to situate lithic technology within the broader context of the evolution of “modern behaviour” in deposits preceding the Still Bay. I will focus on the following research questions:
- What are the features of the assemblages from the pre-Still Bay layers; in particular with regards to lithic technology and raw material economy?
- How do those features differ from the actual Still Bay layers and how do they relate? What statements can be made about discontinuity and continuity?
- Does the assemblage from the pre-Still Bay contain elements that already announce innovations assigned to the Still Bay?
- What are the mechanisms that drive the technological changes?
- Which technological trends highlight the phases of the MSA before the Still Bay?
- What can we conclude about the lifestyle of past humans from the observations on technological variability combined with environmental, climatic, demographic and social changes?
State of the art
A.J.H. Goodwin and C. van Riet Lowe provided a detailed definition of the Still Bay based on several unstratified, undated MSA open-air sites in the Western Cape Province in their pioneering monograph about the subdivision of the Southern African Stone Age. The term Still Bay was introduced in memory of C.H.T.D. Heese, a retired headmaster from Riversdale, who collected leaf-shaped lithic points in the dunefield close to the village Still Bay in 1906. The fossile directeur of the Still Bay was the bifacial lance-head, which was a bifacially worked foliate or lanceolate point. The laurel leaf tip with a semi-circular or a wide-angled pointed base was described as the most common shape. In addition to the typical bifacial foliates, two other types of points occurred, namely the convergent flake and the oak-leaf, i.e. denticulated, point. Side-scrapers and backed pieces were also present in low proportions. The authors stated that from their present knowledge, the distribution of the Still Bay Industry was confined to the southernmost coast of Africa.
After the first description of the Still Bay, confusion about the chronological position of this industry relative to the Howiesons Poort arose in South Africa. During excavations at Peers Cave, also known as Skildergat Cave in 1948, K. Jolly could not clarify whether the Still Bay was stratigraphically above or below the Howiesons Poort. Bifacially worked points were also regarded as elements associated with the Howiesons Poort, for example at Tunnel Cave and Skildergat Kop also located on the Cape Peninsula. Moreover, the term Still Bay was applied to many African MSA assemblages, some of which lacked the fossile directeur of this industry, while others had problematic stratigraphic contexts. The result was that the validity of the term ‘Still Bay’ was called into question. Finally, this industry lost its credibility and was not listed in Volman’s revised classification scheme of the MSA phases. Volman’s publication on the Southern African archaeological record as well as Singer and Wymer’s work at Klasies River main site represented the first formal subdivisions of the MSA after the early model established by Goodwin and van Riet Lowe.
It was not revived until the 1990s when two excavations, Hollow Rock Shelter and Blombos Cave, yielded stratified assemblages that corresponded to the original definition of the Still Bay. The excavation at Blombos Cave prompted the proposal to reinstate the Still Bay as a MSA sub-stage. A recently published revision of the South African and Lesotho Stone Age sequence reaffirmed the Still Bay as a techno-complex within the MSA. This sub-stage of the MSA is considered to be short-lived and to last only from circa 75 to 71 ka BP. However, the Still Bay layers of Diepkloof Rock Shelter are dated significantly older extending up to 109 ±10 ka BP and thus the Still Bay lasted longer. The technological analysis of the Still Bay layers at Diepkloof in comparison with other published Still Bay sites, including Blombos Cave, Hollow Rock Shelter, Apollo 11 Rockshelter, Sibudu Cave and Umhlatuzana Rock Shelter, supports a longer duration. The study demonstrates the existence of temporal and spatial variability within this techno-complex. According to this, the Still Bay cannot be regarded as a chronological marker because of its asynchronous appearance and heterogeneity across space.
Site and Materials
Sibudu Cave, about 40 km north of Durban and 15 km inland of the Indian Ocean, is perched on a steep, forested cliff 20 m above the uThongathi River in the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. The site is 55 m long and ca. 18 m wide. The bedrock and sediments of the shelter slope steeply from north to south. The excavation area is located at an altitude of ca. 100 m above mean sea-level in the northern part of the shelter where the deposits are thickest.
A first trial trench of about one metre depth was excavated in 1983 by A. Mazel (Natal Museum) and revealed that the uppermost layers contain Iron Age followed by MSA occupations. Further excavations conducted by L. Wadley (University of the Witwatersrand) started in 1998 and continued until 2011. Since 2011, a team led by N.J. Conard (University of Tübingen) continues the fieldwork in two excavation areas, the deep sounding (DS) and the eastern excavation (EE), using the excavation grid established by Wadley.
The stratigraphy is predominantly composed of anthropogenic deposits. The 3 m deep cultural sequence mainly consists of several MSA layers. Several OSL and radiocarbon dates have been obtained from the MSA deposits and new luminescence dates are in progress by C. Tribolo (Université de Bordeaux-III, IRAMAT). The layers at the top of the MSA sequence are described as final MSA followed by late MSA. The strata below correspond to the post-Howiesons Poort. In response to problems surrounding the informal name given to the post-Howiesons Poort, the term ‘Sibudan’ has been coined for this industry. Below this, the layers containing the Howiesons Poort have ages between 64.7 ±1.9 and 61.7 ±1.5 ka BP. The deposits assigned to the Still Bay, with an age of 70.5 ±2.0 ka BP, lie directly below the Howiesons Poort. Both the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort industries at Sibudu show elements that may indicate “innovative behaviour”. The lowest layers excavated by Wadley, LBG and BS, are informally named pre-Still Bay. LBG yielded two OSL ages of 73.2 ±2.3 and 72.5 ±2.0 ka BP. A single age of 77.2 ±2.1 ka BP was obtained from the pre-Still Bay strata, BS. A typological change is observed within the BS sequence. BS to BS 10 contain only few formal tools, comprising unifacial points and denticulates. The tools which characterise the deepest layers, BS 11 to BS 16, are thin, bifacial points (Wadley 2012). In the excavations by the team from the University of Tübingen, new layers below BS were identified: (from the youngest to the oldest) ADAM, ANNIE, BART, BEA, CASPER, CHANTAL, DANNY and DARYA. The lithic assemblages of these lower deposits will form the basis for my proposed analysis. The particular significance of these assemblages is the appearance of bifacial points and shaping flakes in layers that predate the Still Bay.
My research will make important contributions, first, in challenging the security of type-fossils to characterise lithic industries, and second, in questioning the role of the Still Bay in the emergence of complex technological and cultural innovations.
Sibudu Cave serves as an optimal case study due to the long and well-dated cultural sequence that is minimally affected by natural post-depositional processes. The results of micromorphological analyses provide an insight into the activities at the site, including the repeated construction of bedding areas and burning episodes. The sediments exhibit very good organic preservation, therefore providing information about subsistence and, ultimately, will aid in reconstructing climatic and environmental conditions. Given these favourable conditions, it is not surprising that the site has already been studied intensively. Numerous publications report on specialist studies in the fields of palaeomagnetism, dating, taphonomy, anthracology, archaeobotany, archaeozoology, ochre studies and lithic studies.
Moreover, the excavation method that is used by the team of the University of Tübingen complies with modern standards, allowing an excellent documentation of context of the finds.
The main objective is to explore the technological variability in the pre-Still Bay and the best possible way to do this is by applying a lithic technological analysis. Lithic technological analyses aim to comprehend the objectives of production and the reduction strategies within a whole assemblage and to further draw conclusions about human behaviour. I apply the chaîne opératoire approach which tries to understand the temporal sequence of different stages, from raw material acquisition, blank production, retouch and/or use to discard of the artefacts. Thus, I will gain qualitative data about the organisation of the reduction sequence. An attribute analysis of all lithics especially focusing on technological aspects serves to examine quantifiable trends within the assemblage.
The study of provenance and composition of the rocks yields information about human mobility, land-use/foraging patterns and site occupational history. A petrographic analysis is currently being conducted by Helen Kempson (University of the Witwatersrand) and Guillaume Porraz (CNRS, Ifas & University of the Witwatersrand). Together with existing preliminary work on the geology and available raw material sources in the region, the data from these surveys of the area surrounding the site increase the knowledge of local, semi-local and exotic rocks. The intended cooperation offers the opportunity to make statements about the raw material economy.
Additionally, I follow a techno-functional analysis of the tools. This approach is employed to identify repetitive and characteristic patterns within the tool shaping process, to highlight life-cycles of tools and to clarify the functional state of certain tool types.
Furthermore, I will perform artefact refitting as well as experimental reproduction with the help of professionals to verify hypotheses about the reduction strategy.
The large repertoire of data from different fields also enables a multidisciplinary study, allowing to incorporation of data concerning other technical sub-systems, subsistence, climate and environment to establish a contextual model detailing the driving factors and timing of the appearance of cultural innovations during the MSA.
Finally, I intend to carry out comparative studies of the lithic material from the lowermost deposits at Sibudu to other relevant assemblages with the goal of gaining broad information about temporal and spatial variability of technological trends.