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PhD Defence

What is Still Bay?

Tuesday 17 January 2017
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


The Still Bay is a cultural-historic phase within the southern African Middle Stone Age, which remains critical to our understanding of modern human behavioural evolution, as well as to our understanding of the biogeographic spread of different early modern human groups across the southern African sub-continent.

However this phase is recognised in the archaeological record solely through the documentation of bifacial stone points (artefacts) that have a specific and complex overall morphology. Variability within this phase, and the accuracy with which the limits of it can be identified in time and in space, has received relatively little to no attention.

The purpose of my thesis was to develop an objective and reliable method for identifying and interpreting morphological variability in bifacial points from the key Still Bay assemblages, and further, to test patterns documented with this method against conventional understandings of the phase. The broader central findings suggest that Still Bay point morphology varies significantly but uniformly through time, and discretely across space between bifacial point regional groupings. Therefore, treatment of the Still Bay as a culturally homogeneous entity and marker of demographic affiliation may be unreliable in a broader regional context.


  • Prof. J.J. Hublin


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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Inès van Arkel, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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