The regional structure of the Early Stone Age archaeological record: Insights from the Koobi Fora Formation.

Jonathan S. Reeves1, David R. Braun2, Matthew J. Douglass3

  1. Human Paleobiology Doctoral Program, The George Washington University, Washington DC, USA;
  2. Center for the Advanced Human Paleobiology, The George Washington University; Washington DC, USA;
  3. University Nebraska Lincoln, Nebraska, USA;


The majority of the Early Stone Age record is a spatially continuous palimpsest comprised of thousands, if not tens of thousands of years of behavioral episodes. Despite this, most recent Early Stone Age research continues to employ methods better attuned to a more temporally resolved record. This includes large excavations of few or single dense concentrations of artifacts across a relatively small spatial scale. Sites are often compared using measures of artifact density and the frequencies of different typo-technological units. While variation in these units of analysis are informative in records that represent short-term events of human action, they are less so in more spatiotemporally averaged records. Archeologists of the Early Stone Age require a better understanding of the behavioral processes that contribute to the formation of the archaeological record at broader scales. Here we investigate the regional structure of the archaeological record through the lens of hominin movement. Movement is often structured by broad scale factors such as abundance and distribution of essential resources making it a potentially robust proxy for understanding the formation of archaeological assemblages at a regional scale. We apply measures of cortex ratio and reduction intensity to quantify the movement of stone across the Okote Member in the Ileret and Karari regions of the Koobi Fora Formation. Results demonstrate that hominid movement patterns structure the Early Stone Age record at relatively large spatial scales (>2km.). Regional differences in these measures also appear to track environmental differences between the Ileret and Karari sub-regions of the Koobi Fora Formation. We suggest that a movement ecology framework is better suited for understanding the Early Pleistocene record than an activities facies model.

Subject Communication
Language of text English
Topics AFR.001: Recent Advances in Early Stone Age Studies in Africa, New Insights on the Oldowan and the Acheulian Stone Technology
Keywords Koobi Fora; archaeological site formation; paleolandscape; Early Pleistocene;
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