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STONE AGE OF SOUTH AFRICA.

By J. P. JOHNSON. Most of the material described in the following notes was obtained during a recent journey, as the guest of Professor R. B. Young, through Griqualand West. It is of the highest interest, throwing considerable light on the long. obscure succession in South Africa, and on the vexed question of the origin of the Eoliths, as well as introducing some types of implements which have not been previously described from the sub-continent.

PRIMITIVE GROUP FROM LEIJFONTEIN, HERBERT. In several places on this farm there are patches of gravel lying at the foot of the dolomite escarpment. This gravel consists of subangular fragments of chert and jasper, and is probably derived from patches of very ancient drift that formerly existed on the top of the escarpment.

The chert comes from the dolomite, and is the grey translucent variety of cryptocrystalline silica usually met with in that formation. The opaque jasper is brown inside, but externally has changed to a yellowish-brown, and acquired a high glaze or polish.

While the chert may have been supplied entirely locally, the jasper, on the other hand, has travelled a long way, the nearest source being the Asbestos Hills, some thirty miles to the west.

Mixed with the gravel are quantities of much-worn and highlyglazed jasper Eoliths. A few of these are a little more advanced than the true Eoliths, being made from artificially-produced flakes, but they are a very small minority. Otherwise the group is in every way identical with the typical assemblage met with in the early plateau drifts of southern Britain.

Although attention was drawn to the hacked or rudely chipped stones, which are now termed Eoliths, as far back as 1889, their origin—whether artificial or natural—is still the subject of controversy. While some authorities unreservedly accept them as the work of man, others are equally emphatic in denying their artificial character. The specimens from Leijfontein throw considerable light on this matter, and their testimony, in my opinion, is only capable of one interpretation, namely, that they really are primitive man's first attempts to trim pieces of stone to a useful shape.

The Leijfontein Eoliths and flake-Eoliths may be sub-divided in the same way as Prestwich divided the typical Eoliths, that is, into two sub-groups, * (1) those in which the pieces of stone have been subjected to little modification, and (2) those in which they have been chipped into definite shape.

It would be difficult to recognise the artificial character of the implements of the first sub-group if found alone.

Their great abundance, and the haphazard appearance of the chipping immediately suggests that they have been shaped by the blind forces of nature. Both circumstances have been brought forward as evidence

The “Reutelian” and “Mesvinian" of Rutot.

1

against their artificial character. Nevertheless Palæolithic and Neolithic implements are sometimes met with in equal quantity, while, if the Eoliths are, as is claimed, man's first artefacts, one would expect them to be barely distinguishable from Nature's work. Their association with others, in which the trimming, though of the same rude kind, is arranged in definite patterns, is the sole ground upon which they can be accepted.

Even the better-defined implements of the second sub-group are of so primitive a kind that their artificial character is still the subject of controversy. Yet, apart from the inferior quality of the trimming, and the fact that most are fashioned out of naturally broken fragments of stone, they are identical with the commoner accepted fake-tools of the Palæolithic and Neolithic periods.

Two series of the more differentiated Eoliths and flake-Eoliths, and a set of Neolithic implements of the best quality, for comparison, are represented by the accompanying illustrations (Plates 1, 2,

and 3).

Plate i shews a series of straight concave and convex-edged scrapers. A., B. and C. are true Eoliths, while D., E. and F. are flake-Eoliths. A. and D. are good examples of the concave scrapers. It will be noticed that there is quite a wide difference in the quality of the workmanship of these two. There is a still greater difference between the better of these and the Neolithic example D. I have South African Paläolithic specimens which, in point of workmanship, fill the gap. There is no essential difference between the disputed Eolithic examples and the accepted Neolithic ones. B., C., E. and F. are four commonly recurring varieties of scraper, usually designated by the really descriptive adjectives, circular, rectangular, long and broad. All of these can be matched by Palæolithic and Neolithic examples, while one is still to be counted among the domestic appliances of certain savage peoples. Compare the circular scraper with the Neolithic specimen B. Here, again, I can produce South African Paläolithic specimens, intermediate as regards quality of workmanship. This evolution in delicacy of finish is carried a stage further in some beautiful little examples which I have recently obtained at Riverton, in association with minute scrapers like those from Taaibosch Spruit. They are about one-half the diameter of the Neolithic example.

Plate 2 shews an extremely interesting series of implements. They are very typical of the Eolithic stage of culture, being rarely met with in more advanced assemblages. They are probably all scrapers.

A. and B. are double-edged scrapers. It will be noticed that the chipping of the one edge is in the reverse direction to that of the other. C., D., E. and F. are very similar implements, but both edges are chipped on the same side. They are an eloquent testimony to the artificial character of the Eoliths. It is incredible that a long, tapering point like that of F. could be hacked out by blind agencies.

I have above alluded to Prestwich's classification of the Eoliths. His essay in “ Controverted Questions of Geology" (1896) is still the best account of them. It discusses the flint examples originally obtained by Benjamin Harrison from the patches of early drift on the chalk plateau near Ightham in Britain. Besides the two subgroups of true Eoliths, he included a few, amounting at the time he wrote to 6 % of the total finds--a proportion that must now have dwindled to a mere fraction—that are admitted on all hands. Of these, represented by his figures 38 and 39, and perhaps also 10 and 37, not a single example has been found in situ in the plateau gravel. The writer's opinion is that these, which are merely rude examples of Palæolithic forms, and which, if they are all in the same condition as those represented by Figs. 38 and 39 (which the writer has seen) are much fresher than the majority at least of the typical Eolithic forms, should be included with those other implements found on the plateau, of which Prestwich says: “It is true that some specimens found on the plateau are as well worked as any from the valleydrifts (Paläolithic] and how to account for their presence yet presents some difficulty, but that they are not of the same age, I feel nearly certain. Not only is their make different, but their condition, their freshness—if it may be so termed—and their rarity constitute differences so great that, placed side by side, they would never be placed in the same category. That they should be found on the plateau is no more surprising than that unmistakable Neolithic implements are found on the same surface, in company with the plateau gravel [Eolithic) implements.” It must be remembered that at the time he wrote there were no sections in the deposit, all the specimens being picked up on the surface. No implements of this third subgroup have been found in the sections which have since been specially made.

PRIMITIVE GROUP FROM MAMBIVLAKTE, Hay. By the homestead on the farm Mambivlakte, there are three flat-topped quartzite hills, one to the north, the other two to the south, of the road. On the middle one, and probably on the others also, there is a covering of dark-coloured jasper, chert, and ironstone gravel, containing numerous glazed flake-Eoliths, mostly of brown and yellowish-brown jasper, like those from Leijfontein.

PRIMITIVE GROUP AND PALÆOLITHIC TYPES FROM KAMEELFONTEIN,

Hay. On the farm Kameelfontein there is gravelly débris like that at Leijfontein, containing worn, glazed jasper Eoliths and flakes with an Eolithic style and quality of trimming. Of these, however, the latter amount to more than one-half of the total implements, so that the general assemblage is in advance of that of Leijfontein.

Further, rude chipped discs and flat, more or less circular, pieces of stone, with an edge worked along part of the periphery, also occur. These last are worked in the same way as the typical Paläolithic implements, by alternately striking a chip first off one face and then off the other. They are evidently the initial stage in the evolution of that class of implement. Some of the specimens

collected are, in fact, primitive examples of the typical Palæolithic implements, and leave no doubt as to the origin of the latter class of implement.

Lying on the same surface, but in striking contrast to these worn and primitive Palæoliths, were some quite sharp and fresh-looking examples of very advanced form and finish. They are of chert and jasper, and comprise both almond-shaped and axe-head types.

PALÆOLITHIC TYPES FROM BETWEEN SCHMIDT's DRIFT AND

CAMPBELL.

At one place on the road from Schmidt's Drift to Campbell I noticed many of the characteristic large Palæolithic flakes, as well as some unfinished examples of the typical implements associated with boulders embedded in red, loamy sand.

PALÆOLITHIC TYPES AND ADVANCED GROUP FROM THE LANGE BERG.

On the farm Zoutputs in the Lange Berg I came across numbers of unfinished Paläolithic implements of quartzite associated with the characteristic large flakes, among débris on the sides and at the foot of a hill. Together with them I found three rather interesting flake-tools of a very primitive kind, but probably contemporaneous with the other implements.

Between the farms Zoutputs and Spitzkop there is a rock-shelter in the upturned quartzite formation. At the foot of the cliff in

. which it is situated I found many jasper spalls, also flakes of chert, quartz, and quartzite, as well as some specially interesting flaketools and an incised fragment of ostrich eggshell.

PALÆOLITHIC TYPES AND ADVANCED GROUP FROM PRIESKA.

The Orange River, on the north bank, opposite the village of Prieska, is bounded by a terrace of sub-angular jasper gravel. This gravel is cemented into a hard conglomerate by sand and lime. It is overlaid by sandstone, consisting of quartz grains, similarly bound together by calcareous matter. I saw many much-worn, characteristic Paläolithic flakes, as well as a typical implement, in situ, in the deposit, but was unable to extract them owing to its hardness. I, however, obtained one very nice, though worn, specimen, which had only just been freed by atmospheric disintegration of the matrix. There are many similar jasper Palæoliths, as well as some of quartzite, in the bed of the river, that are evidently derived from this deposit, and of which I brought away some examples.

The presence of the Taaibosch Spruit group among the overlying sand-dunes is indicated by fresh jasper spalls, and by the finding of a characteristically small jasper core, coloured chert flake, and grey chert scraper, as well as a hemispherical stone like that from the junction of the Riet and Modder Rivers, but with the hole barely started.

PALÆOLITHIC TYPES AND ADVANCED GROUP FROM THE JUNCTION OF

THE RIET AND MODDER RIVERS. The above locality has been rendered classical by Rickard's account of his discovery of Paläolithic implements there. His paper, Notes on Four Series of Palæolithic Implements from · South Africa,'' * is one of the few of any good that have been written on South African stone implements.

“ The Implements from the Junction (of the Riet and Modder Rivers] were found in the bed of the river immediately below the point where the rivers become confluent, lying either on the bare rock or in small hollows containing a little coarse gravel ; I collected upwards of eighty specimens in a few hours, but had to abandon the majority of them on account of the difficulty and cost of transport.'

He devotes two plates to them. Plate I. shews two typical tongue-or almond-shaped implements. Plate II. shews a fine representative of the axe-head type, drawn to actual size.

I, also, obtained quite a number of both types there, but they were all very much water-worn, being practically reduced to pebbles. I have no doubt that they come from the gravelly stratum at the base of the alluvium ( = lower terrace of the Vaal). This was east of the bridge.

West of the bridge, and some little distance north of the river, I found a great quantity of quite fresh and sharp scrapers of grey aphanite, mixed with flakes and cores. They had been exposed to view by the removal of a thin covering of surface soil.

Nineteen examples are shewn in the accompanying illustration (Plate 4). I do not propose to say much about them. Although our knowledge of the Stone Age of South Africa has increased with an unprecedented rapidity during the last few years, the time is not yet ripe for generalisation. It is noteworthy that they present an entirely different assemblage to any that has hitherto been found in South Africa. It is important to note that in order to illustrate as many as possible of the forms met with, I have had to give undue representation to exceptions. Moreover, a number being almost as thick as they are broad, with the edge-trimming nearly, if not quite, vertical, are unsuitable for drawings. The three middle specimens of the second row illustrate the dominant form. Interest ing are the extremely elongate kinds, and the variety trimmed at both ends.

These implements are unquestionably newer than the alluvium.

Together with these were found three or four chert scrapers, a grooved cylindrical piece of sandstone, a hemispherical stone with a hole bored to a depth of about one and a half centimetres from the flat side, numerous ostrich eggshell fragments, a bead made of same, and the half of a glass bead.

ADVANCED GROUP FROM RIETPAN (No. 46), Boshof.

The group of implements found at this farm is similar to the assemblage from the junction of the Riet and Modder Rivers, the

* J. C. Rickard, Camb. Ant. Soc., V. (1880).

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