Table of Contents
International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 961401, 25 pages
Review Article

A Chronological Perspective on the Acheulian and Its Transition to the Middle Stone Age in Southern Africa: The Question of the Fauresmith

Australian Archaeomagnetism Laboratory, School of Historical and European Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC 3086, Australia

Received 8 November 2010; Revised 25 January 2011; Accepted 27 March 2011

Academic Editor: Parth Chauhan

Copyright © 2011 Andy I. R. Herries. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


An understanding of the age of the Acheulian and the transition to the Middle Stone Age in southern Africa has been hampered by a lack of reliable dates for key sequences in the region. A number of researchers have hypothesised that the Acheulian first occurred simultaneously in southern and eastern Africa at around 1.7-1.6 Ma. A chronological evaluation of the southern African sites suggests that there is currently little firm evidence for the Acheulian occurring before 1.4 Ma in southern Africa. Many researchers have also suggested the occurrence of a transitional industry, the Fauresmith, covering the transition from the Early to Middle Stone Age, but again, the Fauresmith has been poorly defined, documented, and dated. Despite the occurrence of large cutting tools in these Fauresmith assemblages, they appear to include all the technological components characteristic of the MSA. New data from stratified Fauresmith bearing sites in southern Africa suggest this transitional industry maybe as old as 511–435 ka and should represent the beginning of the MSA as a broad entity rather than the terminal phase of the Acheulian. The MSA in this form is a technology associated with archaic H. sapiens and early modern humans in Africa with a trend of greater complexity through time.