Middle Stone Age pièces esquillées from Sibudu Cave, South Africa: An initial micro-residue study

Geeske H.J. Langejans*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper I present the results of a micro-residue study conducted on ten pièces esquillées (scaled pieces) from Sibudu Cave, South Africa. These artefacts are associated with the Howiesons Poort Industry (∼61.7 and ∼64.7 ka years ago at Sibudu), representing part of the later phase of the Middle Stone Age. Until now, it was unclear on what these pieces were used, and whether they were functional. Previous experimental use-wear work tentatively pointed towards bone processing. However, replication work on stone tool production technology suggests that pièces esquillées are merely the by/end-product of bipolar knapping. I used residue analysis on the Sibudu artefacts because this alternative method has the potential to identify if they were used, and if so, illuminate the specific materials the pieces were used on. Although the sample is small, all the pièces esquillées reveal a clear animal processing signal. There are some bone deposits on the utilised edges that may substantiate bone processing, or perhaps a bone hammer was used with them, but additional study, including Later Stone Age artefacts, is needed to assess the feasibility of these observations. It remains possible that the artefacts are core reduced pieces that were subsequently used as tools or simply knapped with a bone hammer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1694-1704
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Core reduced pieces
  • Howiesons Poort
  • Micro-residue analysis
  • Middle Stone Age
  • Pièces esquillées
  • Scaled pieces
  • South Africa


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