Elysandre Puech

Doctorante – GReNES
Anthracologie – Afrique du Sud - Later Stone Age - transition Pleistocene/Holocene – Gestion du bois – Usage du feu

Analyse des charbons de bois au Later Stone Age à Bushman Rock Shelter, Limpopo, Afrique du Sud : reconstruction paléoenvironnementale et implication sur le comportement des chasseurs-cueilleurs à la transition Pléistocène/Holocène

Analysis of archaeological charcoals from the Later Stone Age layers of Bushman Rock Shelter, Limpopo, South Africa: palaeoenvironmental reconstructions and implications for hunter-gatherer behaviours at the Pleistocene / Holocene transition.

My PhD focuses on the first charcoal analysis recovered from the Later Stone Age (LSA) sequence of Bushman Rock Shelter (BRS), Limpopo, South Africa. The site preserves one of the rare archives of the Late Pleistocene/Holocene transition in the southern African region, a critical still poorly understood period, especially in the Limpopo area in the summer rainfall region. Moreover, the LSA sequence shows a progressive transition from a microlithic industry related to the Robberg to a macrolithic one identified as the Oakhurst industry. The nature and the tempo of this change as well as the definition of the Oakhurst industry within the southern African Holocene Prehistoryre still debated. Therefore, the LSA period in this area is still poorly documented regarding human behaviours and human adaptations to the climatic change associated with this critical period. The abundant and well-preserved charcoal remains of the BRS site offer a unique opportunity to document the past vegetation and climate in the vicinity of the site as well as fuelwood management strategies by human groups occupying the shelter during the LSA. Charcoal remains, derived from the incomplete wood combustion, largely contribute to the deposit accumulation at the site and are considered to stem mostly if not exclusively from anthropogenic origin. Indeed, the use of fire was fully part of the daily life of past hunter-gatherer groups e.g. for cooking, heating, lithic raw material processing, plant-based medicine or personal ornament processing/making. On the one hand, (1) the study of charcoals scattered in the well stratified and well dated LSA layers will allow me to reconstruct the past woody vegetation and past environment of the surroundings of the site. On the other hand, (2) particular attention will be paid to the charcoal remains recovered from the LSA combustion structures and their organisation in relationship with the other archaeological remains to understand/decipher the functions of the different hearths recognized at the site. Both study axes, combined together with results of other botanical proxies from the ongoing multidisciplinary project of BRS, (3) will allow me to question the nature of plant-human interactions, as well as its implications on resource exploitation and subsistence strategies during the LSA at the site. Finally, in order to carry out this PhD project, (4) new modern wood will be sampled and then charred to complement the reference charcoal collection currently available for the region.


Production scientifique (écrite) depuis 2011