Prof Lyn Wadley

Professor Lyn WadleyHonorary Professor
Honorary Professor School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies

Phone: 27 (0) 11 717 6049

Research interests: Middle Stone Age, cognitive archaeology, lithics, experimental archaeology, environmental studies

Professor Wadley joined the IHE in 2008. She worked in the Wits Archaeology Department from 1982 - 2004. Since 2004 she has held an honorary position at the University, where she continues to supervise graduate students and do active research into Middle Stone Age issues. She has directed excavations at South African sites such as Rose Cottage and Sibudu Caves. The Sibudu excavations are ongoing. Her main research interest is ancient cognition and her experimental archaeology is geared towards understanding the mental architecture required for various behaviours. Her most recent work is on the production and use of compound adhesives and the implications this has for cognition.

Lyn Wadley heating experimentIn 2008 a festschrift honouring professor Wadley as the ?ncence grise of MSA research in southern Africa was published. For this occasion Jeanette Deacon wrote a tribute to Lyn Wadley, titled ?Modelling the MSA?. The following paragraphs are selected from this tribute.

Professor Lyn Wadley?s contribution to Middle Stone Age (MSA) studies has helped to deepen our understanding of this stage in human physical and technological development. Her archaeological career, has spanned the last 35 years. In the 1980s, building on the fieldwork of Revil Mason (Mason 1962), and inspired by new theoretical approaches based on historical materialism developed by her colleagues David Lewis-Williams and Tom Huffman, Lyn constructed a fresh approach to Later Stone Age studies in what was then the southern Transv l (now Gauteng Province). She demonstrated the value of identifying behaviour patterns amongst San hunter-gatherers that might be recognizable archaeologically.

Lyn wadley and Marlize lombard at SibuduThe late 1980s and early 1990s was a time of vigorous debate about the interpretation of temporal and spatial variability in Later Stone Age assemblages and some of the key issues were brought to the fore in exchanges between Lyn, Aron Mazel and Lawrence Barham (Mazel 1989, 1992a,b; Wadley 1989b, 1992a; Barham 1992). With characteristic thoroughness, Lyn addressed issues in these debates with several papers and the first book on gender in archaeology in Africa, Our Gendered Past: Archaeological Studies of Gender in South Africa (Wadley 1997a, 1998, 2000a,b).

She was promoted to Senior Lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1988 and became Associate Professor in 1996. During this time, she initiated and completed major excavation projects in the eastern Free State at Rose Cottage and other sites and, latterly, at Sibudu in KwaZulu-Natal where she is still busy. After a spell as Head of Department, which involved membership of a large number of university committees as well as teaching and research, she took early retirement in 2005 Lyn Wadley and graduate students at Sibuduand was immediately appointed as Honorary Professor, enabling her to continue her research at the university.

Starting in the 1990s with two students who began the painstaking task of identifying woody plants from charcoal found in excavations at Rose Cottage (Wadley et al. 1992), Lyn encouraged more students and colleagues from other disciplines to analyse charcoal (Allott 2004, 2005, 2006) and other plant residues such as seeds (Wadley 2004b; Sievers 2006; Wintjes & Sievers 2006), pollens (Renaut & Bamford 2006) and phytoliths (Schiegl et al. 2004) recovered from Sibudu. Analysis of the faunal remains of micromammals, larger mammals and aquatic animals has followed (Cain 2006; Glenny 2006; Plug 2006; Reynolds 2006; Wells 2006). These proxy environmental indicators have been used elsewhere in southern Africa before (Deacon & Lancaster 1988), but this is the first time they have been applied systematically to a long-sequence site in KwaZulu-Natal. The results to 2006 have been published (Wadley 2006b; Wadley & Whitelaw 2006).

Having assessed the character of the MSA artefact assemblage at Sibudu (Villa et al. 2005; Delagnes et al. 2006), perhaps the most innovative research that Lyn has developed and inspired is the identification of use wear and residues on stone tools, coupled with experimentation with ochre and mastic used to bind the stone tools to shafts.

In the process of trial and error testing of different ingredients, quantities and preparation methods she came to realize how complex an activity the preparation of mastic was. The implications in turn have inspired curiosity about aspects of cultural modernity, what it means and how can it be recognized (Wadley 2001a, 2003, 2006c). The humble act of gathering ingredients, testing them and perfecting a recipe to keep a stone spearhead on its shaft might yet prove to be at least as significant an achievement as engraving a pattern of lines on a piece of ochre.

On a broader theoretical level, Lyn?s paper (2001a) on the recognition of cultural modernity and symbolism in the MSA provided important theoretical considerations. It challenged the loose definitions of symbolism that characterized many MSA papers of the time and urged greater caution in the use of the term. It was partly as a result of the 2001 theoretical standpoint and the controversy surrounding the recognition of early symbolism that she moved her research focus to demonstrate complex technological behaviour that implies modern cognition.
Deacon, J. 2008. Modelling the MSA - A tribute to Lyn Wadley. Goodwin Series 10, 5-8.

Selected Publications

Peer reviewed papers

Wadley, L., Hodgskiss, T. & Grant, M. 2009. Implications for complex cognition from the hafting of tools with compound adhesives in the Middle Stone Age, South Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 106 (24): 9590-9594.

Wadley, L., Plug, I. & Clark, J. 2008. The contribution of Sibudu fauna to an understanding of KwaZulu-Natal environments at 60 ka, 50 ka and 37 ka. In: Badenhorst, S., Mitchell, P. & Driver, J.C. (eds) People, Places and Animals of Africa: Papers in Honour of Ina Plug, pp. 34-45. Oxford: BAR International Series 1849.

Wadley, L. & Mohapi, M. 2008. A segment is not a monolith: evidence from the Howiesons Poort of Sibudu, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 2594-2605.

Sievers, C. & Wadley, L. 2008. Answering a burning question: experimental carbonization of fruiting structures in and under archaeologically recovered hearths. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 2909-2917.

Jacobs, Z., Roberts, R.G., Galbraith, R.F., Deacon, H.J., Gr?R., Mackay, A., Mitchell, P.J., Vogelsang, R. & Wadley, L. 2008. Ages for the Middle Stone Age of Southern Africa: Implications for Human Behavior and Dispersal. Science 322, 31 October: 733-735.

d?Errico, F., Vanhaeren, M. & Wadley, L. 2008. Possible shell beads from the Middle Stone Age of Sibudu Cave. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 2675-2685.

Backwell, L., d?Errico, F. & Wadley, L. 2008. Middle Stone Age bone tools from the Howiesons Poort layers, Sibudu Cave, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 1566-1580.

Wadley, L. 2007. Announcing a Still Bay Industry at Sibudu Cave, Journal of Human Evolution 52: 681-689.

Soriano, S., Villa, P. & Wadley, L. 2007. Blade technology and tool forms in the Middle Stone Age of South Africa: the Howiesons Poort and post-Howiesons Poort at Rose Cottage Cave. Journal of Archaeological Science 34: 681-703.

Wadley, L. & Lombard, M. 2007. Small things in perspective: the contribution of our blind tests to micro-residue studies on archaeological stone tools. Journal of Archaeological Science 34:1001-1010.

Lombard, M. & Wadley, L. 2007. The morphological identification of micro-residues on stone tools using light microscopy: progress and difficulties based on blind tests. Journal of Archaeological Science 34: 155-165.

Wadley, L. 2006. The use of space in the late Middle Stone Age of Rose Cottage Cave, South Africa. In: Hovers, E. & Kuhn, S.L. (eds) Transitions before the Transition: Evolution and Stability in the Middle Palaeolithic and Middle Stone Age: 279?294. New York: Springer.

Wadley, L. 2006. Revisiting cultural modernity and the role of ochre in the Middle Stone Age. In: Soodyall, H. (ed.) The Prehistory of Africa: 49?63. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers.

Wadley, L. & Jacobs, Z. 2006. Sibudu Cave: background to the excavations, stratigraphy and dating. Southern African Humanities 18:1?26.

Wadley, L. 2006. Comment on Sealy, J. Diet, mobility, and settlement pattern among Holocene hunter-gatherers in southernmost Africa. Current Anthropology 47:588?589.

Wadley, L. 2006. Partners in grime: results of multi-disciplinary archaeology at Sibudu Cave. Southern African Humanities 18:315?341.

Delagnes, A., Wadley, L., Villa, P. & Lombard, M. 2006. Crystal quartz backed tools from the Howiesons Poort at Sibudu Cave. Southern African Humanities 18:43?56.

Wadley, L. 2005. A typological study of the final Middle Stone Age stone tools from Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal. South African Archaeological Bulletin 60:1?13.

Wadley, L. 2005. Ochre crayons or waste products? Replications compared with MSA ?crayons? from Sibudu Cave, South Africa. Before Farming 2005 (3):1?12.

Wadley, L. 2005. Putting ochre to the test: replication studies of adhesives that may have been used for hafting tools in the Middle Stone Age. Journal of Human Evolution 49:587?601.

Villa, P., Delagnes, A. & Wadley, L. 2005. A late Middle Stone Age artefact assemblage from Sibudu (KwaZulu-Natal): comparisons with the European Middle Palaeolithic. Journal of Archaeological Science 32:399?422.

Valladas, H., Wadley, L., Mercier, N., Tribolo, C., Reyss, J.L. & Joron, J.L. 2005. Thermoluminescence dating on burnt lithics from Middle Stone Age layers at Rose Cottage Cave. South African Journal of Science 101:169?174.

Wadley, L., Williamson, B.S. & Lombard, M. 2004. Ochre in hafting in Middle Stone Age southern Africa: a practical role. Antiquity 78: 661?675.

Wadley, L., Lombard, M. & Williamson, B.S. 2004. The first residue analysis blind tests: results and lessons learned. Journal of Archaeological Science 31:1491?1501.

Wadley, L. & Jacobs, Z. 2004. Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal: Background to the excavations of Middle Stone Age and Iron Age occupations. South African Journal of Science 100:145?151.

Wadley, L. 2004. Late Middle Stone Age spatial patterns in Rose Cottage Cave, South Africa. In Conard, N.J. (ed.) Settlement Dynamics of the Middle Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age,Volume II: 23?36. T?gen: Kerns Verlag.

Wadley, L. 2003. How some archaeologists view cultural modernity. South African Journal of Science 99:247?250.

Wadley, L. 2001. What is cultural modernity? A general view and a South African perspective from Rose Cottage Cave. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 11:201?221.

Wadley, L. 2000. South African Archaeology, gender and the African Renaissance. South African Historical Journal 43:81?95.

Wadley, L. 2000. The use of space in a gender study of two South African Stone Age sites. In Donald, M. & Hurcombe, L. (eds) Gender and Material Culture: 153?168. Basingstoke: MacMillan.

Books and edited books/journals

Wadley, L. & Whitelaw, G. (eds) 2006. Sibudu Cave: background to the excavations, stratigraphy and dating. Southern African Humanities 18 (1).

Wadley, L. (ed.) 1997. Our Gendered Past: Archaeological studies of Gender in South Africa. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.

Wadley, L. 1987. Hunters and Gatherers of the Later Stone Age, Southern Transv l. Oxford: Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 25:1?255.