An Early Date for the Stone Age at Kgale View in Gaborone, Botswana

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Nick Walker
William Samuel Downey


Botswana is a long way from establishing a credible Stone Age chronology for any part of the country,
especially for the earlier periods. Most recorded early sites are open gravel occurrences with limited
archaeological value, given the increased probability of artefacts being redistributed and mixed with those
from earlier or later events as well as the loss of organic matter. Relevant sites with any stratigraphic,
ecological and other value are more likely to be buried and thus only exposed during erosion or excavation.
Such a window of opportunity was offered with the development of a new shopping mall in Gaborone,
the country’s capital city. This paper demonstrates the potential contribution of salvage archaeology to
understanding our past, especially where construction work opens up deep trenches with profiles, often
exposing otherwise hidden relics. Second, in this instance, it has also produced the oldest cultural dates
yet in Botswana. Thermo-luminescence dates obtained during the archaeological salvage of this site are
important as they confirm the early replacement of the Early Stone Age (ESA) in the Southern African
interior. Third, there is some suggestion for the re-use of artefacts by later Middle Stone Age (MSA) people.
Finally, of particular interest is the provisional evidence for symbolic behaviour in the ESA. Cognitively
modern behaviour is generally believed to have only started in the Middle Stone Age.

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