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Archaeology & Anthropology: Open Access

Hunter Gatherers of the Middle Stone Age: An Essay in Historical Conjecture

  • Open or CloseAlan Barnard*

    Department of SocialAnthropology, United Kingdom

    *Corresponding author: Alan Barnard, Department of SocialAnthropology, United Kingdom

Submission: August 27, 2020; Published: December 16, 2020

DOI: 10.31031/AAOA.2020.04.000595

ISSN: 2577-1949
Volume4 Issue1


The Middle Stone Age (MSA) is a specifically African phase of human prehistory. It should not be confused with the Mesolithic, which might literally mean the same thing but is different in terms of geographical spread and content. In terms of material culture, the MSA saw the use of red ochre and the rise of rock art. This is important because it implies both symbolic thinking and the earliest phase of modernity. That is how it is defined. It is also the period in which language evolved and in which it diversified, and it saw too the emergence of kinship structures recognizable as such today.This essay focuses on what is known about the MSA and on what can be discerned through both analysis and conjecture about how it occurred. It is ‘conjectural’ simply because I want to probe some aspects of the MSA that others seem not to have noticed. If I emphasize language and kinship, it is because these are the things I know most about. We cannot understand the MSA unless we note that symbolic thought, and not just material culture, is a key component.

Keywords: Middle stone age; Rock art;Language;Kinship

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