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Collins, Benjamin Robert

Grant Type
Post-Ph.D. Research Grant
Insitutional Affiliation
Cape Town, U. of
Active Grant
Approve Date
Project Title
Collins, Dr. Benjamin Robert, U. of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa - To aid research on 'Late MIS 3 Behavioral Diversity: The View from Grassridge Rockshelter, Eastern Cape, South Africa'

Preliminary abstract: Late Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3, from 45,000 to 25,000 years ago), is one of the most enigmatic and behaviorally diverse periods in southern African prehistory. During late MIS 3 we see the appearance of 'precocious' Later Stone Age technologies that coexist geographically and chronologically with Middle Stone Age (MSA) technologies for the subsequent 20,000 years. This behavioral diversity is suggested to result from a fragmented social landscape, dominated by highly localized and disconnected social groups. However, this social fragmentation hypothesis suffers from a dearth of well-described sites dating to late MIS 3, handicapping our ability to test this hypothesis, and examine the potential relationship between climatic variability and behavioral diversity observed during this period. The Grassridge Archeological and Paleoenvironmental Project (GAPP) addresses this issue with detailed archeological and paleoenvironmental research of the late MIS 3 sequence at Grassridge rockshelter, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Preliminary research of this rich MIS 3 archive has produced MSA stone tools that are typologically similar to those from other MSA sites in the region, and marine shell beads that come from at least 200km away. These two findings suggest that late MIS 3 may not have been as socially fragmented as predicted. Continued excavation and laboratory analysis of Grassridge's MSA deposits will provide significant insight into the technology, foraging patterns, mobility dynamics, and social networks being used by Grassridge's late MIS 3 occupants. Moreover, this research will produce data that can test of whether late MIS 3 was a socially fragmented landscape, and provide substantial novel insight into the behavioral diversity from this period.