Diachronic change within the Still Bay at Blombos Cave, South Africa
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Characteristically shaped bifacial points are stone artefacts with which the Middle Stone Age Still Bay techno-complex in Southern Africa is identified. Traditional approaches such as chaîne opératoire and two-dimensional metrics in combination with attribute analyses have been used to analyse variability within Still Bay point assemblages. Here we develop a protocol to extract and analyse high resolution 3-dimensional geometric morphometric information about Still Bay point morphology. We also investigate ways in which the independent variables of time, raw-material and tool size may be driving patterns of shape variation in the Blombos Cave point assemblage. We demonstrate that at a single, stratified Still Bay site points undergo significant modal changes in tool morphology and standardization. Our results caution against (1) treatment of the Still Bay as a static technological entity and (2) drawing demographic inferences stemming from grouping Still Bay point collections within the same cultural label.