San Personal Ornaments from the Later Stone Age at Blombos Cave and Blomboschfontein, southern Cape, South Africa
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A critical factor that distinguishes modern humans, Homo sapiens, from animals is the ability to communicate using symbols. One example is the use of personal ornaments. People in all cultures use personal ornaments to express something about themselves, and a wide range of functions and meanings can be applied to different ornamentation. The personal ornaments from three Later Stone Age sites in the Blomboschfontein Region, southern Cape, South Africa were analysed in order to determine variation within the manufacture of the ornaments, and how these functioned symbolically within the Later Stone Age society. The makers of these ornaments were the San, the indigenous people of southern Africa. The first method applied is microscopic analyses of the ornaments recovered from the sites to confirm their authenticity and to examine the manufacturing techniques used, as well as a range of possible functions of the ornaments. Ethnographic analogy from contemporary Khoesan culture is used as the second method in this thesis to establish the reasons for and the symbolic systems behind the manufacture and use of the ornaments.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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