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Lyn Wadley

Lyn Wadley is jointly Honorary Professor of Archaeology in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, and the Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. She directs a Wits-recognized programme called ACACIA (Ancient Cognition and Culture in Africa).  She taught archaeology in the Archaeology Department from 1982 until her retirement. She obtained her Masters degree from the University of Cape Town (1977) and her PhD from Wits (1986). The National Research Foundation has awarded her an A rating. She is married with an adult daughter and son. 

Her speciality is the African Stone Age: Middle Stone Age (which lasted from approximately 300,000 to 25,000 years ago) and Later Stone Age (the last 25,000 years). She began her career researching social and ecological issues during the past 25,000 years of the Later Stone Age in southern Africa. Data for her interpretations were obtained from sites in Namibia and South Africa.  In particular, her Later Stone Age research centred on demographic mobility. She directed excavations at a suite of Holocene sites in the Magaliesberg, and subsequently spent eleven years excavating Rose Cottage Cave in the eastern Free State. Rose Cottage has a cultural sequence, beginning almost 100,000 years ago, with pulses of occupation until about 500 years ago. She is best known for her Middle Stone Age excavations in the rock shelter, Sibudu, KwaZulu-Natal, 1998 - 2011. This site has exceptional organic preservation. Final Middle Stone Age occupations of about 38,000 years ago are at the top of the sequence and the site has been excavated into deep layers with an age of approximately 77,000 years ago. The earliest occupations have not yet been reached. By the end of 2016, Sibudu was the subject of over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, many of which are authored or co-authored by international collaborators. Amongst the novel data from the site is the oldest evidence for plant bedding and medicinal plant use in the world. Lyn Wadley is now part of an international excavation team at the well-known Border Cave, KwaZulu-Natal.

Lyn Wadley’s current research is dedicated to the cognition of people who lived in the Middle Stone Age. She has conducted many experiments in order to replicate activities observed in the Middle Stone Age. This work includes heat treatment of rocks, ochre and seeds, and hafting of stone tools with compound adhesives made from natural products like ochre and plant gum. Such replications enable interpretations of the cognitive abilities of people who used the various technologies.

Selected publications 2005-2009

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.

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. & Whitelaw, G. (eds) 2006. Sibudu Cave: background to the excavations, stratigraphy and dating. Southern African Humanities 18 (1): 1–341.

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

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

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.

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., 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.

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., 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.

Peer-reviewed papers and book chapters 2010-mid 2017

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. & Kempson, H. 2011. A review of rock studies for archaeologists, and a preliminary analysis of dolerite and hornfels from the Sibudu area, KwaZulu-Natal. Southern African Humanities 23: 87-107.

Wadley, L., Sievers, C., Bamford, M., Goldberg, P., Berna, & Miller, C.  2011. Middle Stone Age bedding construction and settlement patterns at Sibudu, South Africa. Science 334: 1388-1391.

Wadley, L. 2011. Recognising complex cognition through compound adhesive manufacture in the Middle Stone Age. In: Henshilwood, C. and d’Errico, F. Homo symbolicus: The Dawn of Language, Imagination and Spirituality. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 97-109.

Wadley, L. 2012. Some combustion features at Sibudu, South Africa, between 65,000 and 58,000 years ago. Quaternary International 247: 341-349.

Wadley, L. 2012. Revisiting Later Stone Age collections from Big Elephant Shelter, Namibia. South African Archaeological Bulletin 67: 101-107.

Wadley, L. 2012. Sibudu Cave: recent archaeological work on the Middle Stone Age. In: Reynolds, S.C. & Gallagher, A. (eds) African Genesis: Perspectives on Hominin Evolution, pp. 531-553. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wadley, L. 2012. Two ‘moments in time’ during Middle Stone Age occupations of Sibudu, South Africa. Southern African Humanities 24: 79–97.

Lombard, M., Wadley, L., Deacon, J., Wurz, S., Parsons, I., Mohapi, M., Swart, J. & Mitchell, P. 2012. South African and Lesotho Stone Age sequence updated (I). South African Archaeological Bulletin 67: 123-144.

Bruch, A.A, Sievers, C. & Wadley, L. 2012. Quantification of climate and vegetation from southern African Middle Stone Age sites - an application using Late Pleistocene plant material from Sibudu, South Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews 45: 7-17.

Conard, N.J., Porraz, G. & Wadley, L. 2012. What is in a name? Characterising the post-Howiesons Poort at Sibudu. South African Archaeological Bulletin 67: 180-199.

D’Errico, F., L. Backwell, L. & Wadley, L. 2012. Identifying regional variability in Middle Stone Age bone technology: The case of Sibudu Cave. Journal of Archaeological Science 39: 2479-2495.

Cochrane, G.W.G., Doelman, T. & Wadley, L. 2013. Another Dating Revolution for Prehistoric Archaeology? Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 20: 42-60.

Wadley, L. 2013. Gender in the prehistory of sub-Saharan Africa. In: Bolger, D. (ed.) A Companion to Gender Prehistory, First Edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., pp. 313-332.

Wadley, L. 2013. Recognizing complex cognition through innovative technology in Stone Age and Palaeolithic Sites. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 23.

Wadley, L. 2013. MIS 4 and MIS 3 occupations in Sibudu, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 68.

Wadley, L. 2013. Theoretical frameworks for understanding African hunter-gatherers. In: Lane, P. and Mitchell, P.J. (eds) Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology, pp. 353-364. Oxford University Press.

Peña de la, P., Wadley, L. and Lombard, M. 2013. Quartz bifacial points in the Howiesons Poort of Sibudu. South African Archaeological Bulletin 68 (198): 119–136.

Wadley, L. 2013. Some thoughts on transformation in archaeology. Guest Editorial. South African Archaeological Bulletin 68: .

Prinsloo, L.C., Wadley, L. and Lombard, M. 2014. Infrared reflectance spectroscopy as an analytical technique for the study of residues on stone tools: potential and challenges. Journal of Archaeological Science 41: 732-739.

Wadley, L. and Prinsloo, L.C. 2014. Experimental heat treatment implies analogical reasoning in the Middle Stone Age. Journal of Human Evolution 70: 49-60.

Wadley, L. and Langejans, G. 2014. Preliminary study of scrapers around combustion features in layer SS, Sibudu, 58000 years ago. South African Archaeological Bulletin 69: 19–33.

Peña de la, P. and Wadley, L. 2014. Quartz knapping strategies in the Howiesons Poort at Sibudu (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). Plos One 9 (Issue 7) e101534.

Backwell, L., McCarthy, T.S., Wadley, L.,  Henderson, Z.,  Steininger, C.M., de Klerk, B., Barré, M.,  Lamothe, M., Chase,  B.M., Woodborne, S., Susino, G.J., Bamford, M.K., Sievers,  C., Brink, J.S., Rossouw, L., Pollarolo, L., Trower, G., Scott, L. and  d’Errico, F. 2014. Multiproxy record of late Quaternary climate change and Middle Stone Age human occupation at Wonderkrater, South Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews 99: 42–59.

Hall, G., Wadley, L. and Woodborne, S. 2014. Past environmental proxies from the Middle Stone Age at Sibudu, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Journal of African Archaeology 12: 7-24.

Peña de la, P. and Wadley, L. 2014. New knapping methods in the Howiesons Poort at Sibudu (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). Quaternary International 350: 26–42. Citations 8

Wadley, L. 2014. South African Middle and Later Stone Age research: a retrospective. South African Archaeological Bulletin 69: 208–212.

Bradfield, J., Wadley, L. and Lombard, M. 2015. Southern African arrow poison recipes, their ingredients and implications for Stone Age archaeology. Southern African Humanities 27: 29–64.

Lennox, S.L., Wadley, L. and Bamford, M. 2015. Charcoal analysis from 49 000 year old hearths at Sibudu: implications for wood uses and the KwaZulu-Natal environment. South African Archaeological Bulletin 70 (201): 36–52.

Soriano S, Villa P, Delagnes A, Degano I, Pollarolo L, Lucejko JJ, Henshilwood C, Wadley, L. 2015. The Still Bay and Howiesons Poort at Sibudu and Blombos: Understanding Middle Stone Age Technologies. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0131127. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131127

Villa P, Pollarolo, L., Degano, I., Birolo L, Pasero M, Biagioni C, Douka,K,  Vinciguerra, R,  Lucejko, JJ, Wadley, L. 2015. A Milk and Ochre Paint Mixture Used 49,000 Years Ago at Sibudu, South Africa. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0131273. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131273 citations 3

Wadley L. 2015. Those marvellous millennia: the Middle Stone Age of Southern Africa, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 50:2, 155-226, DOI: 10.1080/0067270X.2015.1039236 citations 1

Wadley, L. 2015. Examples of the use of space 77,000 to 62,000 years ago at Sibudu, South Africa, In Conard, N. & Delagnes, A. (eds) Settlement Dynamics of the Middle Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age. Kerns Verlag Tübingen, pp 11-26.

Wadley L, Trower G, Backwell L, d’Errico F. 2015. Traditional glue, adhesive and poison used for composite weapons by Ju/’hoan San in Nyae Nyae, Namibia. Implications for the evolution of hunting equipment in prehistory. PLoS ONE10(10): e0140269. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0140269

Lombard, M. & Wadley, L. 2016. Hunting technologies during the Howiesons Poort at Sibudu Cave: What they reveal about human cognition in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, between ~65 and 62 ka. In: Iovita, R. & Sano, K. (eds), Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Stone Age Weaponry, Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology, pp 273-286. Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media. DOI 10.1007/978-94-017-7602-8_19

Wadley, L. 2016. Technological transformations imply cultural transformations and complex cognition. In: Haidle, M.N., Conard, N.J. & and Bolus, M. (eds), The Nature of Culture:Based on an Interdisciplinary Symposium ‘The Nature of Culture’, Tübingen, Germany, pp 57-63. Dordrecht: Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology, Springer Science+Business Media. DOI 10.1007/978-94-017-7426-0_6

Val, A., De La Peña, P. & Wadley, L. 2016. Direct evidence for human exploitation of birds in the Middle Stone Age of South Africa: The example of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal. Journal of Human Evolution 99: 107-123.

Wadley, L., Murungi, M.L., Witelson, D., Bolhar, R., Bamford, M., Sievers, C., Val, A. & De La Peña, P. 2016.Steenbokfontein 9KR: A Middle Stone Age Spring Site in Limpopo, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 71 (204): 130-145.

Wadley, L, De La Peña, P. & Prinsloo, L.C. 2017. Responses of South African agate and chalcedony when heated experimentally, and the broader implications for heated archaeological minerals. Journal of Field Archaeology, DOI:10.1080/00934690.2017.1337438

Hodgskiss, T. & Wadley, L. 2017. How people used ochre at Rose Cottage Cave, South Africa: Sixty thousand years of evidence from the Middle Stone Age. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0176317.  

Wooding, M., Bradfield, J., Maharaj, V., Koot, D., Wadley, L., Prinsloo L, et al. 2017. Potential for identifying plant-based toxins on San hunter-gatherer arrowheads. South African Journal of Science 113 (3/4), Art. #2016-0210, 10 pages. sajs.2017/20160210