Oldowan transport and use of stone resources: Insights from Kanjera South, Kenya

David R. Braun1, Jonathan S. Reeves2, Thomas Plummer3, Emma Finestone4

  1. Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, George Washington University, Washington DC, USA;drbraun76@gmail.com
  2. Human Paleobiology Doctoral Program, George Washington University, Washington DC, USA;
  3. New York Consortium for Evolutionary Primatology, Queens College, City University of New York, NY, USA;
  4. New York Center for Evolutionary Primatology, Graduate Center, City University of New York, NY, USA;


Oldowan tools represent the earliest evidence of hominin-environment interactions at a landscape scale. Research has shown that many Oldowan sites form as the result of repeated events of transport and discard of stone tools over time. However, research on this topic does not always account for the time-averaged nature of the archaeological record. Thus, measuring the influence of this process on archaeological assemblages provides a way to investigate how hominins use space at the landscape scale. Experimental and simulation-based research has provided templates for time-averaged archeological patterns that can identify when hominins transported materials into and out of archaeological sites. Here we describe a series of generative models that identify important factors to consider when describing landscape-scale movement patterns. This includes measures of artifact reduction intensity and transport. These models provide predictions that are directly applicable to the archaeological record. We use these predictions to investigate archaeological patterns in the ca. 2-million-year-old lithic assemblage from Kanjera South, Kenya. We test different models of transport and their application to the previously documented diversity of raw materials at Kanjera South. Previous studies have documented that a variety of rock types from a wide geographical region were incorporated into the Kanjera South assemblage. Evidence from stone tool reduction and transport indicate that hominins transported particular rock types to Kanjera South and preferentially reduced certain rock types. Differential treatment of certain rock types indicates patterns of selection that are reflective of overall understanding of general patterns of rock mechanics. This suggests that artifact selection, transport and reduction were part of cohesive technological adaptation.

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 Kanjera South; Oldowan; raw material transport; paleolandscape;
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