Around the Fire

Fire and its uses, from MSA to LSA in South Africa: palaeoenvironments, fuel management, heat treatments and symbolic use of fire

International workshop

Organised by CEPAM, Evolutionary Studies Institute and IFAS-Recherche

Event coordinator: Marion Bamford (ESI), Guillaume Porraz (ARSCAN, CNRS), Chrissie Sievers (GAES), Elysandre Puech (ESI/Wits/CEPAM) and Isabelle Théry-Parisot (CEPAM/CNRS)

Friday 13 September 2019

8:30-17:00 | IFAS-Recherche, 62 Juta Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg
Conference Room (1st floor)

Combustion features are particularly well-preserved in Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Later Stone Age (LSA) sites in southern Africa. The remains associated with these features directly (biological and biomolecular archives) and indirectly (thermal treatment) document several aspects of past societies’ economy, from resource management (for the food and technical spheres) to land use and group mobility. The evolution of practices related to the use of fire therefore provides direct information on prehistoric ways of life and changes, but also makes it possible to identify cultural specificities.
The objective of the seminar is to lay the foundations for an interdisciplinary project investigating the role of fire as a factor in cultural transformation and diversification of technical and symbolic activities. Drawing on the very rich archaeological record from southern Africa, the project aims to study fire and its uses as a potential marker of the cultural identities of MSA and LSA societies operating in contrasting environments between coastal and inland, and highly variable climates between Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6 and MIS 2.