Swartkrans as a case study in African cave taphonomy
Brain, C. K.
Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research
By taphonomy is meant the systematic study of death assemblages of once-living things in this case of vertebrate animals. Such study may have various aims but in the present instance my objective has been the interpretation of bone assemblages in the Swartkrans cave to throw light on such topics as: 1. the ways in which bones found their way to the cave; 2. the nature of the animal communities which contributed bones to the assemblages and the kind of environment in which the communities lived; 3. the behaviour of the hominids and other animals whose bones form part of the fossil assemblage. Swartkrans, though not a particularly large cave, is one of considerable complexity and can be used as a case study to illuminate several principles in African cave taphonomy. Three of these principles are discussed.
Swartkrans; cave taphonomy