Karen Loise van Niekerk

Stilling

Forsker , arkeologi

Tilhørighet

Institutt for arkeologi, historie, kultur- og religionsvitenskap

Forskning

Tracing the origins of behaviourally modern Homo sapiens in southern Africa

Our project focuses explicitly on the period between 100-50 ka (thousand years ago), a time of remarkable technological and behavioural expansion amongst ancestral modern humans. This project is unique and innovative in taking a macro and micro-scale approach to examine the links between material culture, innovation, subsistence and micro-environments. Currently we have only episodic views or ‘snapshots’ of early human behaviour. Also existing ages of occupations at post-100 ka archaeological sites in southern Africa are queried and need review, as does the reliance on environmental proxies disconnected from the human record. Focusing on the southern Cape, a key locus for early human occupation, our research teams analysed materials excavated from three Middle Stone Age archaeological sites Blombos Cave, Klipdrift Shelter, Klipdrift  Cave Lower and one Later Stone Age site, Klipdrift Cave. Our 2015-2016 published results about these sites have demonstrated their unequalled richness and integrity, and highlights their ground-breaking contribution to our understanding of modern humans in this region, indeed for Africa as a whole. The benefits of our team using precision excavation and recording techniques, innovative analytical and dating methods, and new theoretical approaches are demonstrated in our publications that highlight the behavioural innovations and subsistence practices that emerged in this region after 100 ka. Additionally our publications have directly linked these cultural records to changing environmental conditions observed in site-based archives. Our integrated macro- and microscale approach is defining a new paradigm in international archaeological research. With our inter-disciplinary team of archaeologists, dating specialists and climatologists, we believe that our research group will continue to establish a new scientific standard for assessing the relationships between human culture and the natural world in which it operates.

Publikasjoner
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