Geoarchaeology of artefact-bearing strata in Middle Stone Age Malawi

01st June 2012

Amanda_Greaves TA AA74Amanda Greaves

BArts (Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, November 2011

Geoarchaeological analysis of artefact-bearing sediments from the Karonga District, northern Malawi, is applied to assess the region’s potential for site stratification and depositional integrity. Hypotheses about site formation and disturbance are tested across two Middle Stone Age (ca280 to 30 ka) sites: the Airport Site and the historically-significant ‘Sangoan’ elephant butchery site of Mwanganda’s Village. These sites consist of Plio-Pleistocene Chiwondo sediments overlain by gravelly Middle to late Pleistocene Chitimwe sediments forming alluvial terraces. Graphing of particle size distributions (PSA) indicates that fluctuating fluvial processes contributed to aggradation and erosion events at both sites. The Airport Site demonstrates several channel incising and migration events, producing contact points of variable age between Chiwondo and Chitimwe layers. The Mwanganda’s Village site reveals correlations in the upper terrace layers only (with one potential correlation via ICP-MS analysis in lower layers). PSA, combined with field observations, also indicates potential artefact displacement, but gravel distributions throughout the Chitimwe beds suggest that movement was likely confined to within individual stratigraphic layers. This restricted movement suggests depositional integrity. Although intra- and potentially intersite correlations were found, site formation processes have affected site stratification in some artefact-bearing locations. These site formation processes could indicate that the previously identified Sangoan tools at the Mwanganda’s Village elephant butchery site may represent another MSA industry.

Amanda Greaves
June 2012
Thesis Abstracts
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