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2018-07-26 13:00:27   •   ID: 2012

Shambyu - Kavango East and the quest for the regional Middle Stone Age

Figure 1

These are some extremely fine Stone Age points, that were collected by Rev. Hartmann of the Shambyu Catholic mission, all found in the vicinity of the mission. Shambyu is located In Kavango East, one of the fourteen Regions of Namibia, near the Caprivi Strip.

The private collection of the late Rev. Hartmann, most material is still stored in a local museum, comprises several thousands of microlithic artifacts, pionts and prehistoric ceramics. Unfortunately we have only the course information, that artifacts were found distributed over the landscape in small scatters, but the findings of these sites were not curated separately. Although the points shown here seem to represent a certain local "style" (sensu: Clark 1980), we can not be sure that the have a similar age or are from just one site.

Figure 2
These points are produced by blanks of Discoid and Levallois origin. They can be divided into two clusters: Medium sized (5 +/- 1 cm long) (Figure 1) and small sized,, delicate and extremely thin (2,7 +7-0,5 cm in length ; with: 1,5- 2,5 mm; Figure 2).

Some points, irrespectively their size, appear as classic unifacial "Mousterian points" , but bifacial points are more common.

Many of the bifacial points show basal thinning by flat retouches. The smaller points are usually bifacial, thin and show a great diversity of types. We even find hollow bases and triangular points, similar to the points that are known in the Kostenki area (Streletskian ensembles); ca. 40 k.a. at Kostenki).

On the other hand, some unifacial points show a "keeled" character and are relatively short, broad and thick, resembling rather converget scrapers than projectile-points. Some scrapers are also present in the "larger artifact" subgroup

The raw materials are local (fine grained Quartzite, but many more often "exotic" (Calcedony, smoked Quartz, Silkrete).

The University of Köln currently conducts a project "Palaeoecology and the Late Holocene Occupation of Northern Namibia" and found scatters of a possible Oldowan, Acheulian with Victoria-West technique and MSA points. Until now stratified deposits were not excavated.

During the Early Holocene microlithic, still aceramic inventories are abundant regarding the Hartmann collection. Characteristic tool-types are microlithic tools, especially projectile-insets such as lunates and micro-points.

What remains to be further discussed is a complex, which is earlier than the Namibian Holocene Microlithic, called by J. Richter: Messum-Menongue Complex.

The complex around 10 k.a. BC, is named after Menongue in Central Angola and Messum in the Central Namib Desert where microliths occur along side bifacially worked leaf-shaped points. This Complex seems to be another Late MSA inventory that mingles MSA and LSA technology, already known elswhere from Africa (Senegal, Horn of Africa for example).

Back to the artifacts of our post:

- They could indicate a local Late Pleistocene MSA, and would well fit to ensembles elsewhere in the Region

- They could belong to the Holocene Messum-Menongue Complex.

Hope that-the Köln team will settle these problems!

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