Prof Christopher Henshilwood

Prof Christopher HenshilwoodResearch Professor
Professor African Prehistory, University of Bergen

Phone: 27 (0)11 717 6698

Research interests: Origins of modern human behaviour, Middle Stone Age archaeology, Blombos Cave, engraved ochre, shell beads .

Christopher Henshilwood - examining toolChristopher Stuart Henshilwood is a Research Professor at the Institute for Human Evolution, University of the Witwatersrand and holds a South African Research Chair in the Origins of Modern Human Behaviour funded by the National Research Foundation. Additionally, he is Professor of African Archaeology at the Institute for Archaeology, History Culture and Religion at the University of Bergen in Norway. He directs the Blombos Cave Project in South Africa, a major archaeological research initiative that is contributing significantly to the international debate on the origins of what is considered modern human behaviour. Since 1991, he has led the excavations at this site that have uncovered marine shell beads, engraved ochres and bone tools that date to 75 000 years ago. These finds are widely believed to signify that southern Africa was a primary centre for the early development of modern human behaviour and for the evolution of complex language. He has excavated a number of other Stone Age sites in South Africa and is currently preparing to start new excavations at two Middle Stone Age sites situated in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, southern Cape, South Africa. Henshilwood organizes and directs an annual three-month field school programme based in this reserve for archaeology students from Africa and Europe.

Entrance to Blombos CaveHenshilwood holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Cape Town and read for his Ph.D. in archaeology at the University of Cambridge. He held several post-doctoral research fellowships at the University of Cape Town after 1995 and from 1999 ? 2004 he was an Adjunct Professor in archaeology at Stony Brook University, New York before assuming his current positions. He is a director of the Southern Cape Archaeology Trust and between 2001 ? 2008 he was a research member of a Centre National de la Rescherche Scientifique (CNRS) program ?Origine de l Homme, du langage et des langue? based in Bordeaux, France. He was awarded the Chevalier dans l Ordre des Palmes Acad?ques in 2005 by the French Prime Minister for distinguished contributions to French education and culture. He has published widely in scientific journals, has been invited to give public lectures in Europe, America, Asia and Africa, has presented a number of television and radio programs, and regularly writes articles for popular publications. His book, Holocene Prehistory of the Southern Cape, South Africa: Excavations at Blombos Cave and Blombosfontein Nature, was published in 2008 in the Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology series.

Selected Publications

Henshilwood, C.S., d? Errico, F. & Watts, I. 2009. Engraved ochres from the Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution 57, 27-47.

Henshilwood, C.S. 2009. The origins of symbolism, spirituality & shamans: exploring Middle Stone Age material culture in South Africa. In Becoming human: innovation in prehistoric material and spiritual cultures, (eds. C. Renfrew & I. Morley), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 29-49.

Henshilwood, C.S. & Dubreuil, B. 2009. Reading the artefacts: Gleaning language skills from the Middle Stone Age in southern Africa. In: (eds. R. Botha & C. Knight), The Cradle of Language, Oxford: Oxford University Press: 41-60.

Henshilwood, C.S. 2009. The ?Upper Palaeolithic? of southern Africa: the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort techno-traditions. In: African Genesis: Perspectives on hominid evolution (eds. S. Reynolds & A. Gallagher). Johannesburg: Wits University Press.

Villa, P., Soressi, M., Henshilwood, C.S. & Mourre, V. 2009. The Still Bay points of Blombos Cave (South Africa). Journal of Archaeological Science 36 (2): 441-460.

Henshilwood, C. S. 2008. Holocene prehistory of the southern Cape, South Africa: excavations at Blombos Cave and the Blombosfontein Nature Reserve. BAR S1860, Cambridge: Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 75: 1- 171.

Henshilwood, C.S. 2008. Winds of change: palaeoenvironments, material culture and human behaviour in the Late Pleistocene (c. 77 ? 48 ka) in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin, Goodwin volume, Current Themes in Middle Stone Age Research 10: 35-51.

Henshilwood, C.S. 2007. Fully symbolic sapiens behaviour: Innovation in the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, South Africa. In: Rethinking the Human Revolution: New Behavioural and Biological Perspectives on the Origins and Dispersal of Modern Humans. (eds.C. Stringer & P. Mellars), MacDonald Institute Research Monograph series: Cambridge, University of Cambridge Press: 123-132 1.

d?Errico, F. & Henshilwood, C.S. 2007. Additional evidence for bone technology in the southern African Middle Stone Age. Journal of Human Evolution 52:142-163.

Henshilwood, C. S. & Marean, C. W. 2006. Remodelling the origins of modern human behaviour. In : The Prehistory of Africa: Tracing the lineage of modern man. (ed. H. Soodyall). Cape Town: Jonathan Ball: 31-46

Tribolo, C., Mercier, N., Selo, M., Joron, J-L., Reyss, J-L., Henshilwood, C,. Sealy, J. & Yates, R. 2006. TL dating of burnt lithics from Blombos Cave (South Africa): Further evidence for the antiquity of modern human behaviour. Archaeometry 48 (2): 341?357.

Jacobs, Z. Duller, G.A.T. Henshilwood, C.S. Wintle, A.G. 2006. Extending the chronology of deposits at Blombos Cave, South Africa, back to 140 ka using optical dating of single and multiple grains of quartz. Journal of Human Evolution 51: 255-273.

Henshilwood, C. S. 2006. Stratigraphic integrity of the Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave. In From Tools to Symbols. Form Early Hominids to Modern Humans . (eds. L. Backwell & F. d?Errico). Johannesburg, Witwatersrand University Press:441-458.

d?Errico, F., Henshilwood, C., Vanhaeren, M., van Niekerk. K. 2005. Nassarius kraussianus shell beads from Blombos Cave: Evidence for symbolic behaviour in the Middle Stone Age. Journal of Human Evolution 48:3-24.

Henshilwood, C.S. & d?Errico, F. 2005. Being modern in the Middle Stone Age: Individuals and innovation. (eds. C. Gamble & M. Porr). The Individual hominid in context: Archaeological investigations of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic landscapes, locales and artefacts. Routledge (Taylor Francis): 244-264.

Henshilwood, C.S., d?Errico, F., Vanhaeren, M., van Niekerk, K., Jacobs, Z. 2004. Middle Stone Age shell beads from South Africa. Science, 384:404.


Henshilwood, C.S. 2004. The Origins of Modern Human Behaviour ? Exploring the African evidence. In Combining the Past and the Present: Archaeological perspectives on society. Edited by Terje Oestig rd, Nils Anfinset and Tore Saetersdal. BAR International Series 1210: 95-106.

Henshilwood, C.S. & Marean, C.W. 2003. The origin of modern human behaviour: A review and critique of models and test implications. Current Anthropology 44 (5): 627-651.

d?Errico F., Henshilwood C., Lawson G., Vanhaeren M., Soressi M., Bresson F., Tillier A.M., Maureille B., Nowell A., Backwell L., Lakarra J.A., Julien M. 2003. The search for the origin of symbolism, music and language: a multidisciplinary endeavour. Journal of World Prehistory, 17 (1): 1-70.

Henshilwood, C.S., d?Errico, F., Yates, R., Jacobs, Z., Tribolo, C., Duller, G.A.T., Mercier N., Sealy, J.C., Valladas, H., Watts, I. & Wintle, A.G. 2002. Emergence of Modern Human Behaviour: Middle Stone Age engravings from South Africa. Science 295:1278-1280.


Grine, F.E. & Henshilwood, C.S. 2002. Additional Human Remains from Blombos Cave, South Africa: (1999-2000 excavations). Journal of Human Evolution 42: 293-302.

Henshilwood, C.S., Sealy, J.C., Yates, R.J., Cruz-Uribe, K., Goldberg, P., Grine, F.E., , Klein, R.G., Poggenpoel, C., van Niekerk, K.L., Watts, I. 2001a. Blombos Cave, southern Cape, South Africa: Preliminary report on the 1992 ? 1999 excavations of the Middle Stone Age levels. Journal of Archaeological Science 28(5): 421-448.

Henshilwood, C.S., d?Errico, F.E., Marean, C.W., Milo, R.G., Yates, R. 2001b. An early bone tool industry from the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, South Africa: implications for the origins of modern human behaviour, symbolism and language. Journal of Human Evolution 41:631-678.

d?Errico, F., Henshilwood, C.S., & Nilssen, P. 2001. An engraved bone fragment from ca. 75 kyr Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa: implications for the origin of symbolism . Antiquity. 75, 309-18.

Grine, F.E., Henshilwood, C.S. & Sealy, J.C. 2000. Human remains from Blombos Cave, South Africa: (1997-1998 excavations). Journal of Human Evolution, 37: 755-765.

Henshilwood, C.S. & Sealy, J.C. 1997. Bone artefacts from the Middle Stone Age at Blombos Cave, southern Cape, South Africa. Current Anthropology 38(5):890-895.

Henshilwood, C.S. 1997 Identifying the collector: Evidence for human consumption of the Cape dune mole-rat, Bathyergus suillus, from Blombos Cave, southern Cape, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 24:659-662.

Henshilwood, C. S. 1996. A revised chronology for the arrival of pastoralism in southernmost Africa: new evidence of sheep at ca. 2000 b.p. from Blombos Cave, South Africa. Antiquity 70:945-949.

Henshilwood, C.S., Nilssen, P. & Parkington, J. 1994. Mussel drying and food storage in the Late Holocene, sw Cape, South Africa. Journal of Field Archaeology 21:103-109.