Position: Professor Emeritus
Phone: 27 11 717 6049
Lyn Wadley is an honorary professor of archaeology, affiliated jointly with the Archaeology Department (School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies) and the Institute for Human Evolution. She may be contacted on Lyn.Wadley@wits.ac.za . She taught at the University from 1982 to 2004, but although retired still has several graduate students.
Lyn Wadley is the director of the research unit called ACACIA (Ancient Cognition and Culture in Africa), which is housed by the University of the Witwatersrand. ACACIA aims to examine issues of cognition and culture in the Middle Stone Age of southern Africa. During the past 12 years, Sibudu Cave in KwaZulu-Natal has provided the archaeological material analysed by ACACIA staff and graduate students. Wadley has, however, also conducted experimental archaeology in order to understand technical processes adopted in the Middle Stone Age. Some steps in these technical processes imply cognition that is complex, so there is a direct link between technology and the development of complex brain function. She has experimented with adhesives made from plant gum and ochre, she has worked with heating ochres to effect colour change and has replicated camp fires to study the types of pyrotechnology that would have been used in the Middle Stone Age. Sibudu Cave has several types of fire use, including small, round, flat camp fires, large (2m wide) fireplaces with ash dumps and stacked combustion features, including burnt bedding. There is evidence that some of the charred bone, seeds and ochre may have been accidentally burnt under fires made during subsequent occupations.
Some distinctive items including personal ornaments and bone tools were made during the Middle Stone Age. Perforated seashells that may have been beads have been recovered from the Still Bay Industry at Sibudu Cave. These putative beads, which are 70 000 years old, have been studied by Drs Francesco d’Errico (jointly affiliated to the Institute for Human Evolution and the CNRS, Bordeaux) and Marian Vanhaeren (CNRS, University of Paris). Similarly-aged perforated seashells were discovered in Blombos Cave, Western Cape, excavated by Professor Christopher Henshilwood (jointly affiliated to the Institute for Human Evolution and University of Bergen). The presence of personal ornaments during the Still Bay implies that people were expressing personal or group identity as part of symbolic behaviour. The Still Bay industry is also remarkable for its skilfully produced, double-pointed, thin stone points that were almost certainly hafted as parts of spearheads. These artefacts appeared and disappeared within 1000 years, so the Still Bay Industry at Sibudu was short-lived.
A further 7000 years elapsed before southern Africans began to make Howiesons Poort stone tools on thin blades. These included crescent-shaped tools deliberately blunted along the edge opposite the sharp cutting edge, probably for hafting as composite inserts for a variety of weapons, including spearheads and arrowheads. The Howiesons Poort Industry at Sibudu has ages between 65 000 and 62 000 years ago. The Industry yielded what may be the first bone arrowhead, studied by Dr Lucinda Backwell (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research) together with a suite of bone tools that include awls and scrapers. Stone and bone arrowheads were used contemporaneously for hunting at Sibudu where small blue duiker were common prey, but a wide range of plains game was also exploited. When the burst of innovation represented by the Howiesons Poort ended people again made stone points that were probably the tips of spearheads.
The reasons for the waxing and waning of the Still Bay and Howiesons Poort Industries remain elusive. It is possible that these innovative industries were the catalyst for the population expansions within and out of Africa or that demographic events triggered these apparently advanced stone-age technologies.
Publications 2008 - 2010
Wadley, L. 2008. The Howieson’s Poort Industry of Sibudu Cave. South African Archaeological Society Goodwin Series 10: 122-132.
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.
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.
Jacobs, Z., Wintle, A.G., Duller, G.A.T., Roberts, R.G. & Wadley, L. 2008. New ages for the post-Howiesons Poort, late and final Middle Stone Age at Sibudu Cave, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 1790-1807.
Jacobs, Z., Roberts, R.G., Galbraith, R.F., Deacon, H.J., Grün, 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.
Pienaar, M., Woodborne, S. & Wadley, L. 2008. Optically stimulated luminescence dating at Rose Cottage Cave. South African Journal of Science 104: 65-70.
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.
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.
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., 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.
Goldberg, P., Miller, C.E., Schiegl, S., Ligouis, B., Berna, F., Conard, N.J. & Wadley, L. 2009. Bedding, hearths, and site maintenance in the Middle Stone Age of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 1(2): 95-122.
Lombard, M. & Wadley, L. 2009. The impact of micro-residue studies on South African Middle Stone Age research. In: Haslam, M., Robertson, G., Crowther, A., Nugent, S. and Kirkwood, L. (eds). Archaeological Science under a Microscope. Studies in Residue and ancient DNA Analysis in Honour of Thomas H. Loy, pp.11-28. Canberra: Australian National University Press.
Soriano, S., Villa, P. & Wadley, L. 2009. Ochre for the toolmaker: shaping the Still Bay points at Sibudu (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). Journal of African Archaeology Vol. 7 (1): 41-54.
Wadley, L. & McNabb, J. 2009. Chapter 1, Introduction. In: McNabb, J. & Sinclair, A. (eds) The Cave of Hearths: Makapan Middle Pleistocene Research Project. Oxford: Archaeopress, University of Southampton Series in Archaeology No. 1, pp 1-11.
Wood, M., Dussubieux, L. & Wadley, L. 2009. A cache of ~5000 glass beads from the Sibudu Cave Iron Age occupation. Southern African Humanities 21: 239–261.
Wadley, L. 2009. Post-depositional heating may cause over-representation of red-coloured ochre in Stone Age sites. South African Archaeological Bulletin 64: 166–171.
Wadley, L. 2010. Were snares and traps used in the Middle Stone Age and does it matter? A review and a case study from Sibudu, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution: 58: 179–192.
Wadley, L. 2010. Compound-adhesive manufacture as a behavioral proxy for complex cognition in the Middle Stone Age. Current Anthropology 51, Supplement 1:S111-119.
Wadley, L. 2010. A taphonomic study of ochre demonstrates post-depositional color transformations. Journal of Taphonomy 8: 243-254.
Wadley, L. 2010. Cemented ash as a receptacle or work surface for ochre powder production at Sibudu, South Africa, 58,000 years ago. Journal of Archaeological Science 37: 2397-2406.
Lombard, M., Wadley, L., Jacobs, Z., Mohapi, M. & Roberts, R.G. 2010. Still Bay and serrated points from Umhlatuzana Rock Shelter, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 37: 1773-1784.
Wadley, L. 2010. The effect of organic preservation on behavioural interpretations at the South African Middle Stone Age sites of Rose Cottage and Sibudu. In: K. V. Boyle, C. Gamble & O. Bar-Yosef (Ed.) The Upper Palaeolithic Revolution in Global Perspective: Essays in honour of Paul Mellars. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeology, pp. 51-59.
Wadley, L. 2010. In memoriam - Hilary John Deacon (1936-2010). Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 45: 3, 235-237.