The MSA in Botswana and beyond


There are 3 stratified MSA sites in Botswana: Rhino Cave and White paintings rock shelter are located at the World Heritage site of Tsodilo Hills, and the # Gi-site, in the Dobe Valley.

Rhino cave, dated broadly to OIS4, offers one of the most spectacular ensembles of the MSA in S/W-Africa, suggesting being the signature of a past ritual. Rhino Cave is hidden, difficult to access, and small, with a floor area of just 22m². As the excavators’ stated:” The cave receives virtually no direct sunlight and is one of the few places in the Kalahari where it is possible to be completely surrounded by rock. One wall of the cave is domi­nated by a virtually free-standing, massive, outcrop. The main face of this outcrop has been ground into hundreds of variously shaped cupules which are restricted to this panel in the cave. The outcrop would have been at head-height or higher during the MSA when the floor level was at least a meter lower, which would have further emphasized the prominence of this feature. A single cubic meter of MSA deposit, recently excavated directly beneath the carved outcrop, contained 88 complete, or virtually completes, MSA points, spread throughout the deposit. Refitting analysis confirms that many of the points were completed in the cave and remain in direct association with their knapping debris. Seventy percent of these tools have been manufactured from colorful blanks of raw materials collected from a minimum of 50km away. Once complete, the points were burned (along with their manufacture waste), abandoned, or intentionally broken”. Please take a look at the wonderful illustrations and read the exteded review  at:

Excavations conducted at the White Paintings Rock Shelter have uncovered 7 m of deposits ranging in age from the historic period to at least 100,000 years at the base. Eleven stratigraphic units are described in relation to palaeoenvironmental conditions inferred from sediments and other data. These units contain seven major divisions in the cultural sequence. A MSA, very similar to that of Rhino-cave has been dated to 66 k.a. BP.

The # Gi-site dated to 77 k.a. BP is located in the Dobe Valley along the Botswana-Namibia border. The phases of middle Stone Age settlement were linked to a semiarid stream way during the early Upper Pleistocene.

The nearby MSA complex from Shambyu / Rundu (Namibia) has already introduced into discussion during an earlier post. It consists of uni- or bifacial retouched flakes, mainly from discoid cores. A marginal Levallois-component is also present. The Points are of triangular to ovaloid shapes. The material that was used is principally the local quartzite, which does not exclude some “exotic” raw material like translucent smoky quartz. Overall the technique of this surface scatter, which may represent a place for ambush hunting, is very similar to that of the three Botswana sites described above and has affinities to the non-stratified Bambata complex in  Zimbabwe; Zambia, and Botswana.

966 Views since 2/2016 4 Views Today

About Katzman

During my whole life I was fascinated by stone age artefacts. Not only the aesthetic qualities of these findings, but also the stories around them and the considerations arising from their discovery, are a part of my blog. Comments and contributions are allways welcome!

About me: J.L. Katzman (Pseudonym). Born in Vienna. Left Austria in 1974 and did not regret. Studied Medicine and Prehistory at a German University. Member of a Medical Department at a German University.

Copyright 2010-2017 by JLK. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to use material in these posts so long as you cite the work.

This entry was posted in Plaeolithics and Neolithics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *