The Stone Age Archaeology Laboratory examines the evolution of hominin technologies and behaviours. Stone tools provide the bulk of information about prehistoric lifeways, or ways of life, and associated evolutionary dynamics.

The laboratory benefits from the rich Stone Age record in southern Africa, as well as regional archaeological collections, and UCT’s exceptionally long history of Stone Age research.

Research explored at the lab centres on a variety of questions spanning the ~2.5 million years of archaeological record. Lithic analysis represents the primary focus of the lab’s contextual and actualistic research.

Some of the key research areas we address include early toolmaking, the archaeology of modern human origins, hominin carnivory – including hunting technologies – and the ethnoarchaeology of stone tool use, snare construction, and compound adhesive production.

Our lab members conduct field research across several sites in eastern and southern Africa. Ongoing contextual and actualistic experimental studies on projectile use and bone surface modification patterns involve graduate students.

Stone Age Research Laboratory

Staff at the Stone Age Research Laboratory:

Students at the laboratory:

  • Precious Chiwara-Maezanise (PhD)
  • Simoné Visser (Honours)

Selected publications:

Archer, W.A., Braun, D.R., 2010. Morphometric analysis of Acheulian technology at Elandsfontein, Western Cape, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 37, pp. 201-209.  

Braun, D.R., Harris, J.W., Levin, N.E., McCoy, J.T., Herries, A.I., Bamford, M.K., Bishop, L.C., Richmond, B.G. and Kibunjia, M. (2010). Early hominin diet included diverse terrestrial and aquatic animals 1.95 Ma in East Turkana, Kenya. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences107(22), pp.10002-10007. 

Brown, K.S., Marean, C.W., Herries, A.I., Jacobs, Z., Tribolo, C., Braun, D., Myers, M., Bernatchez, J., 2009. Fire as an engineering tool of early modern humans in coastal South Africa. Science, 325, pp. 859-862. 

Brown, K.S., Marean, C.W., Jacobs, Z., Schoville, B. J., Oestmo, S., Fisher, E.C., Bernatchez, J., Karkanas, P.  Matthews, T., 2012. An early and enduring advanced technology originating 71,000 years ago in South Africa. Nature491(7425), pp. 590-594. 

Sahle, Y., Wilkins, J. (2022). Africa, South: Middle Stone Age. Encyclopedia of Archaeology, 2nd Edition. 

Sahle, Y., Hutchings, W.K., Braun, D. R., Sealy, J.C., Morgan, L. E., Negash, A., Atnafu, B. (2013) Earliest stone-tipped projectiles from the Ethiopian Rift date to >279,000 years ago. PLoS ONE, 10(4), p. e0126064. 


Yonatan Sahle
Archaeology Department
Beattie Building, Room 3.9