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Blombos Cave, South Africa. Credit: University of Bergen.

Blombos Cave, South Africa. Credit: University of Bergen.

Blombos Cave is an important site discovered in the ’90’s. It is about 300 km east of Cape Town, South Africa and has yielded phenomenal Middle Stone Age deposits dated at between 100,000 and 70,000 years ago as well as Later Stone Age sequence dated at between 2,000 and 300 years.

A new paper in PLoS looks closer at the technology used by different groups from this site and compares them to other regions in South Africa, such as spear points made of stone and decorated ostrich eggshells. The authors sought to determine whether there was an overlap and contact across groups of Middle Stone Age humans. How did they make contact with each other? How would contact across groups affect one group? How did the exchange of symbolic material culture affect the group or groups?

The patterns seen demontrate that as demographics change; prehistoric people interacted more. For example, they have found similar patterns engraved on ostrich eggshells in different sites. This shows that people were probably sharing symbolic material culture, at certain times but not at others. Furthermore, this sharing of symbolic material culture and technology also tells us more about Homo sapiens‘ journey from Africa, to Arabia and Europe. Contact between cultures has been vital to the survival and development of our common ancestors Homo sapiens. The more contact the groups had, the stronger their technology and culture became.

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