Blombos Cave

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Blombos Cave is a cave in a calcarenite limestone cliff on the Southern Cape coast in South Africa. It is an archaeological site made famous by the discovery of 75,000-year-old pieces of ochre engraved with abstract designs and beads made from Nassarius shells, and c. 80,000-year-old bone tools. Some of the earliest evidence for shellfishing and possibly fishing has been discovered at the site and dates to c. 140,000 years ago.


Excavations carried out since 1991 at Blombos Cave provide snapshots of life in the African Middle Stone Age (MSA) in the southern Cape,South Africa. Three phases of MSA occupation have been identified and named M1, M2 and M3. Dating by the optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and thermoluminescence (TL) methods have provided occupation dates for each phase: these are about 71,000 BCE for the M1 phase, about 78,000 BCE for the M2 phase, and between 100,000 and 140,000 BCE for the M3 phase.

The evidence indicates periods of relatively brief occupation separated by long periods of non-occupation, including a separation between occupation during the Late Stone Age (LSA) and the Middle Stone Age.

Excavation history and...
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